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Grapes of Wrath A Symbolic Narration

Hope is the only way to survive in this world for any man .He hopes for a new life, new world, new land..etc. But what he expects through this hope is the scope for everlasting happiness, and in order to find it, he is always on a journey or a quest. It may be the Promised Land, the green chapel or the Holy Grail .There might be different names and different paths, but where they want to end up is the same place. through out history we find this quest for ever lasting happiness or something man think is the ultimate .man who was once being living in the Eden is how in search of that Eden history repeats like a gyre and literary geniuses were able to recognize and represent this cyclic action of man in their works. American literature traces this quest out of their history. The intellectuals named the Americans quest for the Eden, as American myth.

Steinbecks use of and fascination with what has been termed the American myth- the myth of the American continent as the new Eden and the American as the new Adam-appear again and again throughout his fiction-Cup of Gold.(1929,Steinbecks first novel, offers a fictionalized account of the private Henry Morgans conquest of Panama. The primary symbol of this new world in the novel is the chalice or golden cup that suggest the Holy Grail, Purity, Promise and Innocence all come under the symbols of the Grail but, as Steinbecks conqueror discovers the New World-America-loses its innocence in the

process of being discovered. In the pastures of Heaven, 1932 he makes a small California valley a microcosm for America and the people of that valley, with their fatal insistence upon a kind of illusory innocence, microcosmic America. His message in the novel is that, fallen man brings his own flaws into Eden.

In The Short Reign of Pippin IV (1957), Steinbeck; takes a young ideal American to France in order to contrast the public and private moralities of the two nations. Four years later, in his final novel, The Winter of Our Discontent, Steinbeck turns his scrutiny upon his own nation in a dark study of the American conscience through deep embedded symbols. East of Eden (1952), his most

allegorical novel has an explicit American dream in the character of Adam Trask , who , in a self destructive search for own unfallen Eden ,flees from his Calvinistic ,Jehovah-like father on the eastern seaboard and settles in the Salinas valley in California .

Steinbecks novels are thus connected with his obsession with America as a subject. Each of his novels are engraved with the hidden ink of symbolism .To narrow down this quest for the promised land or Eden or ever lasting happiness he uses the conventional technique of symbols along with the allegorical American Myth .He has placed in each of his work ,the biblical symbols, character symbols, animal

symbols ....etc in a unique as well as in an intelligent way He has used Bible extensively throughout his career .

Steinbeck kept the Bible firmly in both the background and foreground of The Grapes of Wrath ,for he has written not simply about an isolated historical and sociological event the Dust Bowl migration ,but about a nation favored solidly upon a biblical

consciousness, as the novels title indicates .From the first writings of the colonial founders ,America was the New Jerusalem ,and the colonists were the chosen people who consciously compared themselves to the Israelites .Their leaders were repeatedly likened to Moses ,for they ,too had fled from persecution and religious bondage in England and Europe for the new promise of a place called America .The settlement of America may be seen as a process of ever westward expansion in search of that Eden which seemed to recede always before the eyes of the first colonists .The process became one of despoiling the garden in search for the Garden until ,finally , Americans stood at the edge of the Pacific ,having slaughtered and driven from their lands the original inhabitants ,having deforested enormous portions of the continent ,and having fought and gouged with all their claimants to the continent in order to reach the western shore .Surely ,if there were ever to be a Garden, it must be at the Western edge. And the beauty and fecundity of California seemed to fulfill that promise.

Steinbeck, draws the character of Winfield to put the valley into this generalized perspective and locates its firmly within the American dream of Eden rediscovered: Theres fruit, he said aloud (251).

When a rattle snake crawls across the road and Tom drives over it and crushes for entry into the Garden; the serpent the symbolic evil of the Promised Land has at long last been removed. To emphasize quintessentially American idea of a new beginning, a kind of return to the Garden, Steinbeck has Tom laugh and say, Jesus, are we gonna start clean! We sure aint bringin nothin with us (254). Steinbeck recognized deep within the American and the universally human psyche a need to believe in the possibility of beginning anew, of returning symbolically from the exile of maturation and experience to a lost Eden and lost innocence. Through the biblical symbols, he tries to bring the images in Exodus, of the wandering, the plague, hostile Canaanites which is parallel to the Joads wandering, the draught, the hostile Californiansetc. Not just the biblical stories could render

beautification to Steinbecks masterpiece; a comparison with The Waste land myth of T.S Eliot ensures the readers the similarity in history and the mesmerizing intelligence of the two elites who thought alike. The symbols recurring in The Waste land could also be found in The Grapes of Wrath too. The draught, the water, the quest etc. what Steinbeck tries to bring is the cyclic way history repeats and how all those incidents happen again and again in the world.

He almost postulates through the symbols that American man is no different from the age old mythological Israelites, as well as the modern day waste Landers. Man always goes in search for a new beginning, once it was for a new land, later they became wretched

enough not to know what they wanted, and the same happens to the American man, while they go in search for the Promised Land, but they dont know whether it is the land itself they wanted. Man continues his quest as his quest never ends, or he never finds solace anywhere.

But in Steinbecks novel Rose of Sharons act symbolize that new beginning they wanted. She feeds a stranger with the milk from her own breast is reenacted the primal act of human nourishment and the most intimate expression of human kinship. That the stranger is an old man and that, for physical reasons, Rose of Sharon is glad to give the milk, which continues to gather painfully in her breast although her baby is dead makes it symbolic assertion all the stronger. The significance of this final act is further magnified by the facts that the old man is weak from giving his share of the food to his son, and the son had stoled some bread for him but the father had puked it all up. The ultimate nourishment is the sharing of oneself, as Rose of Sharon symbolizes by literally giving of her body. This act takes on religious overtones by the still, mysterious and lingering quality of the scene as her lips came together and smiled mysteriously, suggesting a common subject of religious paintings the Madonna nursing her child whom she knows to be the Son of God. These overtones do more than enhance a humanistic symbol.

In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck evokes this pattern of universal thought and universal expansion, a pattern that begins with

thoughts of a new Eden and moves inexorably to a new land. This is the illusory hope voiced by a representative migrant is one of the novels interchapters: May be we can start again, in the new rich land in California, where the fruit grows. Well start over (95).