Steinbeck’s Biblical Allusion in The Grapes of Wrath Many novels written contain parallels to the Bible. This couldn’t be truer in the case John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck alludes to Biblical characters and events with the use of Sin Watchers, Jim Casy, and also the Joad’s journey to California. There are other events in the book that parallel the Bible, although the portrayal of the Sin Watcher and Jim Casy are the most obvious. Throughout The Grapes of Wrath, religious symbols crop up, further explaining the significance of the section.
One use of symbolism is that when on the road to California, Tom encounters a snake. Already established in the novel is the fact that to the Goads, California represents a place of great wealth, freedom, and prosperity. It is a Garden of Eden, so to speak. The Garden of Eden had a serpent who brought the Wrath of God upon Adam and Eve. The serpent supplied them with the forbidden fruit. California is forbidden to outsiders and migrants. No Okies allowed. The snake represents the Eden Serpent and its betrayal to Adam and Eve. California will betray the Goads. The Sin Watchers represent the religious zeal.
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They force their ideals on 2 others, and they point out the sinful ways of their fellow camp-mates. Steinbeck presents them as evil people who disrupt the otherwise peaceful life at the government camp. The most viewed Sin Watcher was the woman who berated Rose Of Sharon for her “sinful” ways. This horrid woman told Rose Of Sharon that because of the hug-dancing and other fun activities, the baby would be stillborn. Sadly, the baby was born dead, but not necessarily due to Rose Of Sharon’s activities.
This woman gave Rose Of Sharon the idea that it was her fault that the baby did not survive. Jim Casy’s actions resemble the actions of Jesus Christ. In the time the book was published, this was viewed as an act of blasphemy. Many of the acts, trials, and tribulations of Jim Casy (along with the initials JC ) parallel those of Jesus. Jim Casy represents personal reverence, despite his renunciation of preaching. This resemblance to Jesus serves as the force behind Tom’s character as it changes throughout the novel from self-absorbed to one who thinks about the future and what he can do to help.
Also, Casy utilizes his organizational skills when he unites some of his fellow “reds”, and they discuss the changes that need to be made. In this scene of the novel, deputies begin to harass the men and Casy cries out, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re helpin’ to starve children. ” He is killed while preaching what he believes and therefore becomes a martyr for all the migrant workers, as Jesus became to The Christians In The Grapes of Wrath the author, John Steinbeck, presents religion in several ways including the fanaticism of the Sin Watchers, Jim Casy’s parallel character to Jesus 3
Christ, and through the use of symbolism throughout the novel. Through these methods, Steinbeck presents religion as a double-edged blade; one can be truly devout, a kind person, or one can choose the path of zealotry, condemning those who would go against their views. Steinbeck uses biblical allusions and references throughout his novel, from the very beginning to the climax and the end. The novel becomes a more meaningful and complex book with the use of these allusions and causes it to relate more and more with the Great Depression where many problems with authorities and social problems arose.