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The Grapes of Wrath – Literary Analysis Paper

The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 during the Great Depression, is a classic novel written by John Steinbeck. Throughout the book, we follow the Joad family on their expedition to California and watch as they go through struggle and loss. In the ending of the book, Steinbeck leaves us with a creepy, yet beautiful, scene of Rose of Sharon feeding a grown man with her breast milk. Although it’s a disturbing image, John Steinbeck gives us a sense of hope for the Joad family as well as other families during the Great Depression.

A reoccurring theme throughout the novel is the idea of community, “twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss and the golden time in the West was one dream” (264). Throughout the book Steinbeck’s reader sees the Joad family continue to sacrifice their lives for friends, and random strangers, who are in need of help. While on the road the Joad family ends up meeting the Wilsons, another family seeking work. When the Joads meet the Wilsons, we witness a great deal of community as both families share each other’s hardship and loss. This event, as well as many others, allows the reader to understand that community and honor defined the Joad family. When Rose of Sharon is feeding the stranger in the ending scene of The Grapes of Wrath the theme of community is emphasized, as we are reminded that the Joad’s did not know the man she is feeding. Then, to make the theme more prominent, Steinbeck acknowledges the fact that Rose of Sharon is feeding this man from her own, bare, breast. The theme of community in the ending scene takes a toll as it shows the Joad family’s strength, their perseverance, and their caring hearts that had carried them as far as they had come. It is a powerful theme that lets the reader believe that there is more than death in the near future for the Joads.

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Rose of Sharon’s character plays little significance in th…

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