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Holism in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

Bechir Saoudi, PhD, English Literature

Holism, the principle that a part is fathomable only in relation to the whole, is a major theme in
John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. At the beginning of the novel, Casy, a former
preacher, expresses his newly-embraced belief that maybe its all men an all women we love;
maybe thats the Holy Speritthe human speritthe whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big
soul everbodys a part of (32-33). Casys philosophy is based on the idea that all living beings
are intrinsically linked with compassion and empathy. When Casy dies, Tom, the main character,
adopts his way of thinking, promising to take Casys cause to the displaced migrant workers who
need to come together. In this respect, it is extremely important to examine the concept of holism
through which Steinbeck provides a sense of belonging that fights the fragmentation and
alienation brought on by a terrible Great Depression aftermath.