What opinions does Reverend Casy have about sin and using "bad words" in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter Four of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Tom Joad, who has been paroled from prison and is returning home, runs across Jim Casy and recognizes him as the preacher.  Casy replies that he no longer is a preacher because he now has "a lot of sinful idears--but they seem kinda sensible."  Whenever he would preach, for instance, Casy always went out in the grass with a woman afterwards, then felt like a hypocrite.  His action worried him because the women should have been filled with the Holy Spirit, but Casy now decides that "there ain't no sin, and there ain't no virtue."  There are only the actions of human beings:  "There's just stuff people do.  It's all part of the same thing."

Obviously, Casy is not offended by Tom Joad's use of vulgarity and cursing because he makes no comment to Tom. With no sin, Casy's view is that the Holy Spirit is in everybody:  "'maybe it's all men and women we love."  This concept is much like that of the Over-Soul of Emerson, and is in harmony with the socialistic ideals of Steinbeck.  The holiness of fellowship is certainly a motif that of The Grapes of Wrath.


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