The Grapes of Wrath Suggested Essay Topics
by John Steinbeck

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Suggested Essay Topics

Chapters 1–6
1. Compare and contrast the characters of Jim Casy and Tom Joad as revealed in their first conversations.

2. Explain the three-fold symbolism of giving the name Muley Graves to the dispossessed farmer.

Chapters 7–11
1. Compare the behavior of the used car salesmen and the buyers of the belongings of the dispossessed farmers.

2. Discuss what the family council meeting, before they set out, tells about the way of life and culture of the Joads.

Chapters 12–16
1. Describe and comment on the emerging changes in Tom Joad’s character as shown in his behavior with the gas station man, the one-eyed man, and the camp proprietor.

2. Explain and illustrate the ways in which Ma Joad’s character remains essentially unchanged, with one exception, as she is confronted with new situations.

Chapters 17–21
1. Describe the different ways the migrants banded together along the highway and became a cohesive society.

2. Compare the social and economic conditions the migrant families encountered in the California farm country with the conditions in the places they left.

Chapters 22–26
1. Describe and explain the effect the migration from the Dust Bowl had on the different classes of people already living in California.

2. Describe how the behavior in the stops along the highway was later reflected in the government camp.

Chapters 27–30
1. Trace the steps by which Tom Joad’s character changes during his journey from Oklahoma to California.

2. Discuss the irony of the migrants who were driven from their hereditary home by drought being driven from even the temporary shelter they found by flooding rains.