The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Who is telling the story, and what is the value of having alternative voices in the narration?

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mrerick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Also keep in mind that this style of storytelling was slightly out of character for Steinbeck.  Compare this novel to his other more famous ones, and you'll find much more historical context in GOW than any other novel.  There are some critics that believe this method of switching between plot chapters and intercalary chapters takes away from Steinbeck's ability to accentuate characterization (one of his strongest assests as an author).  Other critics believe that providing these historical scenes actually does the opposite: makes his GOW characters more real as the audience is able to connect them to previous knowledge or experience.

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The value of having alternative voices is that Steinbeck can change the tone and mood of the point of view to suit his purpose, whether it's to include social and historical information or to dramatize what the Joads are feeling.

Through the different voices, he is able to better reflect the theme of the novel. The Joads represent the need of all men and...

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