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The John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath Essay

August 06, 2015 - Posted to Writing Tips

Content essay

The John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath Essay

Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck is an American classic which can be read on many levels. For high school students, it is largely a historical novel, depicting the conditions of migrant farmers in California who had left the “Dust Bowl” of Oklahoma and Texas and traveled to find work on farms and in grape vineyards. The work is far more than that, however, and college students who study this novel as a part of an American literature course, will be involved in a great deal of analytical study of themes and symbols. The inevitable Grapes of Wrath essay will follow, in which you will be asked to discuss a theme or some of the symbolism in the work.

You may have liked the book as a story, although it is certainly depressing. Now, however, you have this essay assignment, and you are not looking forward to it. And maybe that is because you are struggling with identifying a topic that will “work” and that will just get you through this assignment with a decent grade. Here are some potential topics that you might want to consider.


There are important themes in this work that will make an excellent The Grapes of Wrath essay. Steinbeck was a strong critic of both the government of the time and of the wealthy landowners whose greed drove all of their behaviors. Thus, his themes all related to these conditions.

  1. Discuss the theme of man’s inhumanity to his fellow human beings within the context of the landowners’ treatment of the “Okies.” Find other examples in history that demonstrate that his is a universal theme.
  2. Privilege and Poverty: Discuss the political, economic and social comments Steinbeck makes about government and the rich who serve one another to the detriment of the poor, downtrodden members of society. Compare this condition in the late 1930’s with conditions in the U.S. today in which the few wealthy seem to control everything, including the government.
  3. Injustice: Steinbeck is particularly wrathful about the injustices that exist in a society in which a very few control all of the wealth. Again, many comparisons could be drawn to the current treatment of the poor in the U.S.
  4. Altruism: The hope that Steinbeck sees for man is portrayed by the many examples of unselfishness on the part of the workers, contrasted with the utter selfishness of the landowners.


Steinbeck’s novels always include symbolism of that were a trademark of his creativity and writing skill. The Grapes of Wrath essay that addresses symbolism should consider the following:

  1. Rose of Sharon’s baby was a symbol of new hope to the Joad family. The fact that the infant was still born is symbolic of the death of that hope as well.
  2. The method of the burial of the baby approaches the image of Moses in the Old Testament, being placed in the river by his mother in an attempt to save him from death.
  3. What symbolism might be found in the death of the Joads’ dog at the hands of a wealthy driver?

John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath essay may be a bit difficult for you if you are pressed for time. This is not an essay that you will write easily and quickly, as you must make your thesis statement and as each point you make must be supported by examples from the novel. Sometimes it might be a better idea to get some help from a professional writing service, and this may be one of those times.

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