The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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What makes Tom's speech in chapter 28 of The Grapes of Wrath so important?

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mrerick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This speech shows that Tom has recognized the importance of Casy's work.  Tom has realized that in order for things to change for the Okie's, actions must be taken.  The one thing that Tom knows that Casy hadn't quite figured out, though, is that it would take more than words to complete this task.  Casy had a tendancy to speak a lot about what could and should be done, but it ended there.  In this speech, Tom makes it clear that he means to actually get the drive started.  He speaks about forcing cops off of people's land, organizing large groups of people to do some yellin', and generally organizing the people (think of Tom as fictional Cesar Chavez).  Then, when Ma voices her concern about losing Tom, Tom's reply is unclear to both of them.  Tom relives the words of Casy in speaking about all of the people harboring one large soul, and this his work will be a part of all of that.  He (his soul) will be present where hungry people fight to eat, where people resist cops, where kids laugh when they can eat again, and when folks can once again build their own buildings and grow their own food.  Tom has subdued Ma's fears by placing himself at a level larger than most people.  Ma can take comfort in the fact that if and when things start to improve for all of the Okies, Tom had something to do about it.

Depending on how far you want to take the similarities, if Casy was Jesus Christ, Tom would be the apostle Paul.

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antoniojoseesp | Student

i just want to ask: which were john steinbeck political ideas? To what extent do they affect this plot and particulary this ideas? This speech is filled with iner communist sentiment and has too this liberation theology taste. It is remarkable that this theology emerged in Latianoamerica only in the 60'. This discurse is an early father of this form of understantanding christ's message. Finally, i understand this text was written on the depression years and won early the pulitzer. How on earth could that had happen? Eventhough capitalism wasn't fashionable those days and the New Deal was a reality, EEUU was the capitalist country that ruled the way of the world with a social darwinism ideology, it strikes me as more than farely odd that this manuscript was acclaimed.

Does anyone has some insights on this matter?

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