What does Steinbeck mean (in The Grapes of Wrath) when he writes, "In the souls of the people The Grapes of Wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage?"

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19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 

20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

Revelations: 14:19-20

A Biblical allusion as well, the title, The Grapes of Wrath recalls the final acts of God for justice. Said Steinbeck himself:

I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression].

The oppressed such as the Okies are "ripening" in their understanding of their oppression. The fruit of their anger is ready to be harvested--the "grapes of wrath" are fully ripe. At the end of Chapter Twenty-Five, harvests of potatoes are thrown into the river, and crates of oranges are dumped after being sprayed with kerosene. And,

in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

Greatly angered at the purposeful spoilage of food in order to drive prices up, the oppressed migrant and other migrant workers, then, begin to organize and effect justice. This growing anger at their disenfranchisement is what Steinbeck felt would foment the lower classes to revolt against their capitalist oppressors.

Thought of by his wife, the title was approved by Steinbeck because the novel itself, he declared, is a "kind of march" as it is in the American tradition of revolution. In fact, Steinbeck's short lyrical chapters of exposition are punctuated with the narrative chapters in a short one, longer two beat. The intercalary chapters were called "pace changers" by the author and were designed, he said,

"to hit the reader below the belt [because] with the rhythm...of poetry [which can]--open him up and...introduce things...which he would not or could not receive unless he were opened up."

As Steinbeck himself said, The Grapes of Wrath is, in tone and scope, "symphonic." It is, indeed, like the words of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the powerful passage from Revelations, both impressive and stirring.

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John Steinbeck, at the end of chapter 25 of The Grapes of Wrath, the following quote is found: "In the souls of the people The Grapes of Wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage." The idea of the grapes of wrath came from Julia Ward Howe's "The Battle Hymn Republic." In the song, the grapes of wrath are being trampled by the Lord. 

In the novel, Steinbeck's reference to the grapes of wrath growing heavy for the vintage refer to the continuing struggle the people are facing. As their struggles grow, their souls become heavy. Metaphorically, Steinbeck is providing readers with an image of a grape so full that it is about to burst. The characters are so burdened by inhumane treatment, hardship, and death that they feel as if they are about to burst from the weight they carry. The reference to the vintage illustrates the time when they can be "pressed" or relieved of their weight (to live lives with fewer burdens). 

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