Purpose Essentially, The Grapes of Wrath is a novel of social protest. It was designed to inform the public of the migrant’s plight. It is a plea for the land owners of California and the banks in the dust bowl states to be more tolerant. It shows how the migrants were made to starve by the California land owners and banks just so they could turn a profit. It shows many of the methods that they used to cheat the migrants out of money and keep them from organizing.
Ma Joad Ma Joad is the backbone of the Joad family. When things were really bad the family turned to her and not to Pa. The family gauged their own emotions by looking at her reaction. She knew that if she faltered then the whole family would collapse. She is always concerned for the welfare of her own family, but still tries to help others as much as possible as show by her helping of the Wilsons and when she gave food to the children in the camp when she barely had enough to feed the family anyway. She fights throughout the book to keep the family together, and without her the family would have fallen apart quickly.
In spite of this she still sees that the family is breaking apart. She fights this as much as possible, but isn’t completely successful. She knows that if Pa ever gives up, the family will collapse, so sometimes she goads him into anger so that he doesn’t. Jim Casy The preacher, Jim Casy, can be seen as a modern day Christ figure, except for without the Christian Doctrine. The initials of his name, J.C., are the same as Jesus Christ.
When he is saying grace in chapter eight, he compares himself to Jesus: I been in the hills, thinkin’, almost you might say like Jesus wen into the wilderness to think His way out of troubles.(pg 70-71) Casy believed in the Emersonian Over-Soul, that we are all have a small part of a larger soul, and everybody is holy. As Tom said, one time he went out in the wilderness to find his soul, an’ he foun’ he jus’ got a little piece of a great big soul.(pg 373) He just wants to be around people because he sees everybody as being holy. He also thinks that people working in cooperation is holy: When they’re all workin’ together, not one fella for another fell, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang — that’s right, that’s holy(pg 71). In the first half of the book Casy is thinking and forming his ideas. He changes from a thinker to an man of action when he sacrifices himself for Tom.
When in prison Casy sees the advantage of organizing people to achieve a common goal. When Casy tried to put his ideas into action he, like Christ, aroused the antagonism of the people in authority and was brutally slain. He died, like Christ saying to his crucifiers, You don’ know what you’re a-doin. Bibliography none.