What Are Some Similarities Between the Bible and "The Grapes of Wrath"?


Quick Answer

John Steinbeck, the author of "The Grapes of Wrath," depicts the Joad family's trip to California as a parallel to the Israelites' trek to the Promised Land. The actions of Tom Joad, the leader of the trip, sometimes recall Moses' development into the leader of the Israelites.

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Full Answer

Like the Hebrews in slavery in Egypt, the Oklahomans in the novel feel that staying in their state is a hopeless situation. As a result, the Joads decide to follow the masses en route to California, escaping from the encroaching desert. The Israelites also were eager to leave Egypt for the Promised Land, which offered hope for a better life.

As the Joads make their way toward California, they hear rumors from other migrants that California does not hold great prospects for those trying to gain a job; the Joads persist anyway. This part of the story parallels the Israelite spies returning with unfavorable reports from Canaan and inspiring doubt in the Israelite people. When the Joads arrive in California, they encounter a hostile environment with many inhabitants fighting over jobs. The Israelites also reached a land inhabited by Caananites who wouldn't give up their land without a fight.

Smaller actions in the book also have some relationship to biblical accounts. For example, Tom Joad kills a man who beats his companion Jim Casy, which resembles Moses killing an Egyptian who beat a Hebrew slave. Also, Uncle John Joad sends his niece's stillborn son down a river, which recalls what happened to Moses as a baby in Egypt.

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