نقد و بررسی رمان خوشه های خشم اثر جان اشتاین بک (بخش دوم)


نوع مطلب :مطالب مفید درسی و مقالات ،

The Grapes of Wrath Analysis and (part two)

Summary: Chapter One

The cornfields of Oklahoma fade in a long summer drought. During the day the farmers have nothing to do but stare dazedly at their dying crops, wondering how their families will survive. Their wives and children watch them in turn, fearful that the disaster will break the men and leave the families destitute. They know that no misfortune will be too great to bear as long as their men remain “whole.”

Summary: Chapter Two

Into this desolate country enter Tom Joad, newly released from the McAlester State Penitentiary, where he served four years on a manslaughter conviction. Dressed in a cheap new suit, Tom hitches a ride with a trucker he meets at a roadside restaurant. The driver reports that much has changed during Tom’s absence: great numbers of families have been “tractored out” of their small farms.

Summary: Chapter Three

In the summer heat, a turtle plods across the baking highway. A woman careens tries to avoid hitting the turtle, but a young man veers his truck straight at the turtle, trying to run it over. He nicks the edge of the turtle’s shell, flipping it off the highway and onto its back. Legs jerking in the air, the turtle struggles to flip itself back over. Eventually it succeeds and continues trudging on its way.

Analysis: Chapters One–Three

The Grapes of Wrath derives its epic scope from the way that Steinbeck uses the story of the Joad family to portray the plight of thousands of Dust Bowl farmers. The structure of the novel reflects this dual commitment: Steinbeck tracks the Joad family with long narrative chapters but alternates these sections with short, lyrical vignettes, capturing the westward movement of migrant farmers in the 1930s as they flee drought and industry.

This structure enables Steinbeck to use many different writing styles. The short (usually odd-numbered) chapters use highly stylized, poetic language to explore the social, economic, and historical factors that forced the great migration. Steinbeck’s first description of the land is almost biblical in its simplicity, grandeur, and repetition: “The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the gray country.” The chapters devoted to the Joads’ story are noteworthy for their remarkably realistic evocation of life and language among Oklahoma sharecroppers. Here Steinbeck displays his talent for rich, naturalistic narration. Expertly rendered details place the reader squarely and immediately in the book’s setting, quickly drawing us in after an interlude of more distanced poetics.

The opening of the novel also establishes several of the novel’s dominant themes. Steinbeck dedicates the first and third chapters, respectively, to a historical and symbolic description of the Dust Bowl tragedy. While Chapter One paints an impressionistic picture of the Oklahoma farms as they wither and die, Chapter Three presents a symbolic depiction of the farmers’ plights in the turtle that struggles to cross the road. Both chapters share a particularly dark vision of the world. As the relentless weather of Chapter One and the mean-spirited driver of Chapter Three represent, the universe is full of obstacles that fill life with hardship and danger. Like the turtle that trudges across the road, the Joad family will be called upon, time and again, to fight the malicious forces—drought, industry, human jealousy and fear—that seek to overturn it.

      Summary: Chapter Four

As Tom plods along the dusty road, he notices a turtle. He picks it up, wraps it in his coat, and takes it with him. Continuing on, he notices a tattered man sitting under a tree. The man recognizes him and introduces himself as Jim Casy, the preacher in Tom’s church when Tom was a boy. Casy tells Tom how he decided to stop preaching. He has come to the decision that “[t]here ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. No longer convinced that human pleasures run counter to a divine plan, Casy believes that the human spirit is the Holy Spirit.

As Tom prepares to continue toward his home, Casy asks if he can come along. They walk to the farm, but upon arriving at the site, they realize it has been deserted.

Summary: Chapter Five

The landowners and the banks, unable to make high profits from tenant farming, evict the farmers from the land. (Tenant farming is an agricultural system in which farmers live on the property of a landowner and share in the profits.) The farmers protest, complaining that they have nowhere to go. The owners suggest they go to California, where there is work to be done. Tractors arrive on the land, with orders to plow the property.

Summary: Chapter Six

Tom and Casy find the Joad farm strangely untouched, other than a section of the farmhouse that has been crushed. The presence of usable materials and tools on ground, signifies to Tom that the neighbors, too, must have deserted their farms. Muley Graves a neaighbor reports that the Joads have moved in with Tom’s Uncle John. The entire family has gone to work picking cotton in hopes of earning enough money to buy a car and make the journey to California.

Analysis: Chapters Four–Six

As the novel unfolds, the short, descriptive chapters emerge like a series of thesis statements on the conditions of life in the Dust Bowl. The chapters recounting the story of the Joad family can be seen as illustrations of or evidence for the claims made in the shorter chapters. In Chapter Five, Steinbeck sets forth an argument strongly supportive of tenant farmers. Notably, however, he does not directly reject the landowners and bank representatives as they turn the tenant farmers off their land. He asserts that the economic system makes everyone a victim—rich and poor, privileged and disenfranchised. All are caught “in something larger than themselves.”

The Grapes of Wrath openly and without apology declares its stance on the events it portrays. This sense of commitment and candor stems from Steinbeck’s method of characterization, as well as from his insistence on setting up the Joads and their family as models of moral virtue.

Tom Joad emerges as the novel’s moral consciousness, and Jim Casy emerges as its moral spokesman. Although he claims he has lost his calling as a preacher, Casy remains a great talker. At many points, Steinbeck uses him to voice the novel’s themes. After several sexual affairs with young women in his congregation, Casy realized that the immediate pleasures of human life were more important than lofty concepts of theological virtue. He thinks that simply being an equal among one’s fellow human beings was sacred in its own way. This philosophy is lived out by the Joads, who soon discover that open, sincere fellowship with others is so precious. Casy believes that togetherness and cooperation should always take precedence over practicality.

     Summary: Chapter Seven

The narrator assumes the voice of a used-car salesman explaining to his employees how to cheat the departing families. The great westward migration has created a huge demand for automobiles, and dusty used-car lots spring up throughout the area. Crooked salesmen sell the departing families whatever broken-down vehicles they can find. The salesmen fill engines with sawdust to conceal noisy transmissions and replace good batteries with cracked ones before they deliver the cars. The tenant farmers, desperate to move and with little knowledge of cars, willingly pay the skyrocketing prices, much to the salesmen’s delight.

Summary: Chapter Eight

As the men travel to Uncle John’s, Tom relates a story about his curious uncle. Years ago, John dismissed his wife’s complaints of a stomachache and refused to hire a doctor for her. When she subsequently died, John was unable to deal with the loss.

At Uncle John’s house, Tom is reunited with his family. They tell him that they are about to leave for California. At breakfast, Granma, who is devoutly religious, insists that Casy say a prayer, even though he tells them he no longer preaches. Instead of a traditional prayer, he shares his realization that mankind is holy in itself:

I got thinkin' how we was holy when we was one thing, an' mankin' was holy when it was one thing. An' it on'y got unholy when one mis'able little fella got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' an' draggin' an' fightin. Fella like that bust the holi-ness. But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella. But one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang_that's right,that's holy.

These words constitute, in short, the philosophy that governs the novel: holiness of mankind in his fellowship. When sixteen-year-old Al arrives at the house, his admiration and respect for Tom is clear. Tom learns that his two youngest siblings, Ruthie and Winfield, are in town with Uncle John. Rose of Sharon, another sister, has married Connie, a boy from a neighboring farm, and is expecting a child.

Summary: Chapter Nine

The narrator shifts focus from the Joads to describe how the tenant farmers in general prepare for the journey to California. For much of the chapter, the narrator assumes the voice of typical tenant farmers, expressing what their possessions and memories of their homes mean to them. The farmers are forced to exchange most of their belongings with a low price because they cannot take everything with themselves.

Analysis: Chapters Seven–Nine

Chapter Eight introduces us to the Joad family. Steinbeck does not render the Joads as particularly complex characters. Instead, each family member tends to possess one or two exaggerated, distinguishing characteristics.

The short chapters that bookend the introduction of the Joad family develop one of the book’s major themes. The narrative’s indictment of the crooked car salesmen and pawnbrokers illustrates man’s inhumanity to man, a force against which the Joads struggle. Time and again, those in positions of power seek to take advantage of those below them. Later in the novel, there is nothing that the California landowners fear as much as relinquishing their precious land to the needy farmers. This behavior contradicts Jim Casy’s belief that men must act for the good of all men. In The Grapes of Wrath, moral order depends upon this kind of selflessness and charity. Without these virtues, the text suggests, there is no hope for a livable world.

      Summary: Chapter Ten

Tom and Ma Joad discuss California. Ma worries about what they will find there but trusts that the handbill she read that advertised work was accurate and that California will be a wonderful place. Grampa agrees, boasting that when he arrives there he will fill his mouth with grapes and let the juices run down his chin. Pa Joad has gone to town to sell off some of the family’s possessions. Now he returns discouraged, having earned a mere eighteen dollars. Casy helps Ma Joad salt the meat. Despite her protests that salting is women’s work, Casy convinces her that the amount of work facing them renders such preoccupations invalid. Rose of Sharon and Connie arrive, and the family piles onto the truck. When the time comes to leave, Muley Graves bids the family good-bye, but Grampa suddenly wants to stay. The Joads are forced to make him sleep and move west.

Summary: Chapter Eleven

When the farmers leave their land, the land becomes empty. The narrator explains that even though men continue to work the land, these men have no real connection to their work. Possessed of little knowledge or skill, these corporate farm workers come to the farm during the day, drive a tractor over it, and leave to go home. Such a separation between work and life causes men to lose wonder for their work and for the land. The empty farmhouses are quickly invaded by animals and begin to crumble in the dust and the wind.

Summary: Chapter Twelve

Long lines of cars creep down Highway 66, full of tenant farmers making their way to California. The narrator again assumes the voices of typical farmers, expressing their worries about their vehicles and the dangers of the journey. When the farmers stop to buy parts for their cars, salesmen try to cheat them. They are met with hostility and suspicion. Still, one finds rare instances of hope and beauty, such as the family that possesses only a trailer—no motor to pull it—and waits by the side of the road for lifts.

Analysis: Chapters Ten–Twelve

In these chapters, Steinbeck continues to develop his picture of the farmers’ world, with flashes of the desolate farms they flee, as well as of the many adverse circumstances that await them. Steinbeck suggests that the hardships the families face stem from more than harsh weather conditions or simple misfortune. Human beings, acting with calculated greed, are responsible for much of their sorrow. Such selfishness separates people from one another, disabling the kind of unity and brotherhood that Casy deems holy.

Steinbeck identifies greed and covetousness as the central cause of the tenant farmers’ dislocation from the ground they have always known. The corporate farmers are interested only in getting their work done quickly and leaving with a paycheck, they treat the land with hostility, as an affliction rather than a home, and put heavy machinery between themselves and the fields.

As the Joads depart, the traditional power dynamic shifts. This process is prefigured in Casy’s insistence that he help Ma Joad salt the meat. Faced with dauntingly difficult work, the group can no longer cling to gender-based divisions of labor.

      Summary: Chapter Thirteen

One the way, Al asks Ma if she fears that California will not live up to their expectations, and she wisely says that she cannot account for what might be; she can only account for what is. They stop at a service station, where Al argues with an attendant who thinks that the family has no money to pay for gas. While the family drinks water and rests, their dog is hit by a car. They pass through Oklahoma City. At the end of a day’s travel, the family camps along the roadside and meets Ivy Wilson and his wife, Sairy, whose car has broken down. Grampa is sick and very soon he dies. The Joads improvise a funeral and bury their grandfather, despite the fact that it is against the law and continue the way with the Wilsons.

Summary: Chapter Fourteen

People who live in the West do not understand what has happened in Oklahoma and the Midwest. Amid the deluge of poor farmers, the citizens of the western states are frightened and on edge. They fear that the dislocated farmers will come together; that the weak, when united, will become strong—strong enough, perhaps, to stage a revolt.

Summary: Chapter Fifteen

A waitress named Mae and a cook named Al work at a coffee shop on Route 66. Mae watches the many cars pass by, hoping that truckers will stop, for they leave the biggest tips. A tattered man and his two boys enter, asking if they can buy a loaf of bread for a dime. Mae brushes them off. She reminds the man that she is not running a grocery store, and that even if she did sell him a loaf of bread she would have to charge 15 cents. From behind the counter, Al growls at Mae to give the man some bread, and she finally softens. Then she notices the two boys looking longingly at some nickel candy, and she sells their father two pieces for a penny. The truckers, witnessing this scene, leave Mae an extra-large tip.

Analysis: Chapters Thirteen–Fifteen

As the Joads set out for California, the second phase of the novel begins: their dramatic journey west. Almost immediately, the Joads are exposed to the very hardships that Steinbeck describes in the alternating expository chapters that chronicle the great migration as a whole; the account of the family provides a close-up on the larger picture. Thus, in Chapter Thirteen, at the gas station, the family encounters the hostility and suspicion described in Chapters Twelve, Fourteen, and Fifteen. Corporate gas companies have preyed upon the attendant; the attendant, in turn, insults the Joads and is initially loath to offer them help. The system in force here works according to a vicious cycle, a cycle that perpetuates greed as a method of sheer survival.

The dog’s gruesome death stands as a symbol of the difficulties that await the family. Because Grampa was, at one point, the most enthusiastic proponent of the trip, dreaming of the day he would arrive in California and crush fat bunches of vine-ripened grapes in his mouth; his death foreshadows the harsh realities that await the family in the so-called Promised Land. With Grampa, something of the family’s hope dies too.

Still, even in this forlorn world, opportunities to display kindness, virtue, and generosity exist. In this section, the narrator’s statement from the end of Chapter Twelve is validated: there will be instances both of bitter cruelty and life-affirming beauty. The story of Mae, in its simplistic illustration of morality and virtue, functions almost like a parable, and considerably lightens the tone of these chapters. The lesson Mae learns is a simple one: compassion and generosity are rewarded in the world.

      Summary: Chapter Sixteen

The Joad and Wilson families travel for two days. The Wilsons’ car breaks down again. Tom and Casy offer to stay behind to repair it, but Ma refuses to go on without them. Instead, the whole group waits while Al and Tom go into town to find parts at a local car lot. At the crowded camp that night, Pa Joad tells a man that he is traveling to look for work in California. The man laughs at him, saying that there is no work in California. Wealthy farmers, the man reports, may need 800 workers, but they print 5000 handbills, which are seen by 20,000 people. The man says that his wife and children starved to death because he took them to find work in California. This worries Pa, but Casy tells him that the Joads may have a different experience than this man did.

Summary: Chapter Seventeen

As masses of cars travel together and camp along the highway, little communities spring up among the migrant farmers: “twenty families became one family.” The communities create their own rules of conduct and their own means of enforcement. The lives of the farmers change drastically. They are no longer farmers but “migrant men.”

Summary: Chapter Eighteen

After traveling through the mountains of New Mexico and the Arizona desert, the Joads and Wilsons arrive in California. They still face a great obstacle, however, as the desert lies between them and the valleys they have been expecting. A man cautions the Joads about what awaits them there: the open hostility of people who derisively call them “Okies”. Despite these warnings, the Joads decide to continue on, and to finish the journey that night. Noah decides to stay behind, saying he will live off fish from the river. Granma, whose health has deteriorated since Grampa’s death, lies on a mattress hallucinating.

The Joads must pack up and are forced to leave the Wilson's behind: Sairy’s health is failing, and Ivy insists that the Joads move on without them. When they cross into the valley, Ma reports that Granma has been dead. Ma lay with the body all night in the back of the truck.

Analysis: Chapters Sixteen–Eighteen

The Joads’ dreams about life in California stand in bold relief against the realities that they face. Rose of Sharon believes that Connie will study at night and make a life for her in town, but this fantasy rings rather hollow against the backdrop of Grampa’s and now Granma’s death. Before the Joads even set foot on its soil, California proves to be a land of vicious hostility rather than of opportunity. The cold manner of the police officers and border guards seems to testify to the harsh reception that awaits the family.

The sense of foreboding in this section is heightened as we witness the fulfillment of Ma Joad’s greatest fear—the braking of the family. Family is the foundation of the Joads’ will to survive, for, as Chapter Seventeen makes clear, migrant families were able to endure the harsh circumstances of life on the road by uniting with other families. Collectively, they share a responsibility that would be too great for one family to bear alone. Moreover, whereas to share a burden is to lighten it, to share a dream is to intensify and concentrate it, making that dream more vivid. The statements about the importance of togetherness serve not so much as an affirmation of the Joads’ circumstances as an indication of what they are in the process of losing.  Now Ma Joad demonstrates her strength as never before. She suffers privately with the knowledge of Granma’s death so that the family can successfully cross the desert.

     Summary: Chapter Nineteen

The narrator describes how California once belonged to Mexico but was taken away by hungry American squatters who believed that they owned the land because they farmed it. The descendants of these squatters are the wealthy farmers who defend their land with security guards and protect their wealth by paying their laborers extremely low wages. They resent the droves of “Okies” flooding into the state because they know that hungry and impoverished people are a danger to the stability of land ownership. For their part, the Okies want only a decent wage and freedom from the threat of starvation. Settling in workers’ camps, they try their best to look for work. Sometimes one of the them tries to grow a secret garden in a fallow field, but the deputies find it and destroy it.

Summary: Chapter Twenty

Ma and Pa Joad rejoin the family at Hooverville, a large, crowded, and dirty camp full of hungry families unable to find work. One young man, Floyd Knowles, tells Tom that there are no jobs. Tom wonders why the men do not organize against the landowners, but Floyd says that anyone who discusses such possibilities will be labeled “red” and dragged off by the police. Casy discusses the injustice of the situation with Tom and wonders what he can do to help the suffering people. Ma cooks a stew that attracts a bevy of hungry children. After feeding her family, she hands over the meager leftovers, which the children devour voraciously.

A contractor recruit workers for a fruit-picking job. When Knowles demands a contract the man summons a police deputy, who arrests Knowles and then begins threatening the others.Knowles runs off, and the deputy shoots at him. Tom trips the deputy, and Casy, coming from behind, knocks him unconscious. Casy volunteers to be caught by police. The sheriff announces that the whole camp will now be burned.

Rose of Sharon asks if anyone has seen Connie, and Al says that he saw him walking south along the river. Pa insists that Connie was always a good-for-nothing, but Rose of Sharon is beside herself with grief at his absence. The Joads depart, leaving word at the camp store for Connie in case he returns.

Summary: Chapter Twenty-One

The hostility directed toward the migrants changes them and brings them together. Property owners are terrified of “the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants.” California locals form armed bands to terrorize the “Okies” and keep them in their place. The owners of large farms drive the smaller farmers out of business, making more and more people destitute and unable to feed themselves or their children.

Analysis: Chapters Nineteen–Twenty-One

Chapters Nineteen and Twenty-One act like a refrain in their repetition of the novel’s social criticism. Both present history—especially California’s history—as a battle between the rich and the poor. The landowners fear that history will repeat itself, and that the migrant farmers, who crave land and sustenance, will take their livelihood from them. The migrants’ simple desire to produce, and the landowners’ resistance, receives particularly poignant illustration in the tale of the man who plants a few carrots and turnips in a fallow field.

Chapter Twenty finds the Joads in Hooverville, where harsh reality further intrudes upon their idealistic vision of solidarity. Disillusioned by their experiences, other people openly doubt and even mock the Joads’ optimism. This unfriendliness, combined with an intensifying scarcity of resources, makes it increasingly difficult for the Joads to honor bonds other than those of kinship. The scene in which Ma Joad prepares her stew offers a powerful illustration of this. Here, the scarcity of food forces her to walk a thin line between selfish interest in her own family and generosity toward the larger community. Yet, while Ma looks to the needs of her family first, she does manage to do what she can to alleviate some of the hunger of the onlooking children. Her compassion toward these strangers, whom she nonetheless considers her people, elevates her above the bleak and hateful circumstances that surround her.

The incident surrounding Floyd Knowles and the fruit-picking contractor signifies the beginning of Tom and Casy's involvement in the burgeoning movement to organize migrant labor, to protect workers against unfair treatment and unlivable wages.

Connie’s decision to abandon his wife and unborn child affects Rose of Sharon deeply and constitutes a turning point for her. His departure disabuses the girl of all notions of a charmed life in the big city and forces her to come to terms with the conditions in which she lives.

      Summary: Chapter Twenty-Two

Later that night, the Joads come across the Weedpatch camp, a decent, government-sponsored facility where migrants govern themselves. At the ranch, the boss, Mr. Thomas, tells the men about the Farmers’ Association, which demands that he pay his laborers twenty-five cents an hour and no more. In hopes of shutting the facilities down, Mr. Thomas says, the association is planning to send instigators into the camp on Saturday night to start a riot. The police will then have the right to enter the camp, arrest the labor organizers, and evict the migrants.

Back at the camp, the rest of the Joad men go to find work, and Ma is visited by Jim Rawley, the camp manager, whose kindness makes her feel human again. She says:

"We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody. Grampa's granpa, he fit in the Revolution.We was farm people till the debt. And then_them people. They done somepin to us. Ever' time they come seemed like they was a- whippin' me_all of us. An' in Needless, that police. He done somepin to me,made me fell mean. Made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't ashamed. These folks is our folks_is our folks. An' that manager, he come an' set an' he says, 'Mrs. Joad' this, an' 'Mrs. Joad' that_an' 'How you getting' on, Mrs. Joad?' " She stopped and sighed. "Why, I feel like people again."

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