Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Ghost of Tom Joad and The Grapes of Wrath Essay Example for Free

The Ghost of Tom Joad and The Grapes of Wrath Essay Through the The Ghost of Tom Joad and The Grapes of Wrath, Springsteen and Steinbeck, in their respective works, comment on the state of social distress and despondency existent within their individual societies. Through making parallels with the depression related issues of the 1930s addressed by Steinbeck and those of the early 1990s recession, Springsteen connects the people and social quandaries of both time periods to remark on the necessity of mans spirit. To this end, through investigating each works characterization of human resolve and unification, employment of Tom Joad and Jim Casy to embody mans spirit, and similar social atmosphere, the connection between the thematic force of the novel and Springsteens subsequent writing is made evident. Throughout his lyrics, Springsteen consistently parallels ideas presented by Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath in order to exhibit past American spirit in social struggles and the need for such resolve to engender change in his own time. Springsteen achieves this rhythmically through keeping the refrain in a constant ABAB rhyme scheme and other stanzas in an AABB rhyme scheme; this provides a consistency and repetition in the speakers message to the reader, and links his own dilemma in Searchin for the ghost of Tom Joad (R), or mans spirit, to the overall plight of the people made evident the non-refrain stanzas. Additionally, this mirrors Steinbecks effort in The Grapes of Wrath to characterize the migrant struggle through both the microcosm of the Joads and then more broadly in the intercalary chapters. Moreover, Springsteens actual description of the current plight parallels Steinbecks ideas on the downtrodden American. In saying Men walkin long the railroad tracks, Goin someplace, theres no goin back (1-2) the speaker is alluding Steinbecks writing of the tenant men came walkingmaybe we can start againBut you cant start. Only a baby can start (119). Additionally, like The Grapes of Wrath, the depiction of social struggles in The Ghost of Tom Joad becomes gradually stronger in tone and more visceral in visualization as made evident by both artists use of various literary devices. The speakers description In a cardboard box neath the underpass, Got a one-way ticket to the promised land, You got a hole in your belly and a gun in your hand(12-14) provokes imagery of man ready to bring about change through violence. This is also concurrent with Steinbecks depictions of the migrant as said in one intercalary chapter -the rifle? Wouldnt go out naked of a rifle. When shoes and clothes and food, when even hope is gone, well have the rifle.(120) Also, Springsteens employment of personification The highway is alive tonight(R) and metaphors Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock (15) augments his attempt to connect and make more vivid, the plights of those depicted by the speaker in the song. Overall there is a building that occurs within the stanzas; from the beginning depictions of the disposed to the pledges made by Tom in the last non-refrain stanza, there is a progression toward exhibiting the need for mans unification. As Steinbeck builds this idea through the exploits and sacrifices of Ma, Tom, Casy and Rose of Sharon, Springsteen does likewise through his lyrics to transport that idea to the modern day. Furthermore, both works use the characters of Tom Joad and Jim Casy as vehicles for expressing the spirit the destitute need to attain in dealing with their troubles. Through juxtaposing images of the impoverished with those of his own introspection, the speaker (who is himself needy) makes evident the importance of what the characters of Tom Joad and Casy embody and how that representation is needed in society. Throughout the work, the speaker gives various descriptions of the downtrodden American Shelter line stretchin round the corner (5), Families sleepin in their cars in the Southwest, No home no job no peace no rest (7-8), Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock, Bathing in the city aqueduct (15-16). These descriptions, inter-cut with the refrain of Searchin for the ghost of Tom Joad (R), Waitin on the ghost of Tom Joad (R) quite clearly show the speakers desire for a change in condition and will. Moreover, when scrutinizing the diction that references Tom Joad as a ghost the absence of his spirit from humanity is made apparent; a spirit both Springsteen and Steinbeck find paramount in ending the plight of the destitute. Springsteen furthers this point in referencing Toms saying Mom, wherever theres a cop beatin a guy, Wherever a hungry newborn cries, Where theres a fight gainst blood and hatred in the airOr decent job or a helping hand, Wherever somebodys struggling to be free, Look in their eyes Mom youll see me (17-24) Though this typifies what the speaker wishes to see in his contemporaries, it also indirectly alludes to Toms ideals as presented in the novel by paraphrasing his last conversation with Ma. Ill be everwhere-wherever you look.when our folks eat the stuff they raise an live in the houses they build -why, Ill be there(572). The use of allusion is key to Springsteens aims here as when characterizing Casy and evidencing the biblical ties made to him. He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag, Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag, Waitin for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last(9-10) The preacher reference is clearly Casy, yet there is a biblical allusion made that is concurrent with idea behind the phrase The meek shall inherit the Earth (Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount). The saying implies that those who forgo worldly power will be rewarded in the kingdom of heaven. This idea plays to the thoughts that both Springsteen and Steinbeck are trying to get across in their respective works and the selfless nature that Joad and Casy embody. Springsteens use of these two characters in his lyrics propel the thematic spirit of Steinbecks work while serving as an inspirational ideal for those he is trying to reach in his own society. Moreover, the overall similarities between the social climates of the early 1990s and 1930s allow Springsteen to illustrate the need for renewed spirit in his own time. The economic recession that characterized the early 1990s with skyrocketing unemployment, declines in housing starts, and slashes in social-welfare programs, mirrored greatly the atmosphere surrounding the Great Depression over six decades before. With over 34 million Americans below the poverty line, the nation was hardly a new world coming into view as characterized in George Bushs post-Gulf War speech. The presidents promising that the prospect of a new world order would utilize the principles of justice and fair play [to] protect the weak against the strong is denoted with sarcasm by Springsteen lyrics saying Shelter line stretchin round the corner, Welcome to the new world order(5-6). Springsteen utilizes a dire description of the disposed in 1990s America (as well as 1930s) through saying No home no job no rest (8) in order to exemplify their strife and the need for change. Steinbecks describing the Three hundred thousand, hungry and miserable; if they should ever know themselves, the land will be theirs(325) typifies the idea Springsteen is trying to get across; that if the disposed of his time attain a renewed will, they can engender change and end their strife. Both the The Ghost of Tom Joad and The Grapes of Wrath exhibit commentary on the social conditions of their time and the need for change among the people. Though the afore mentioned works have been written in vastly different eras, they comment on very similar social climates. Through creating parallels in the characterization of humanity, using Tom Joad and Jim Casy to embody that characterization and recognizing social similarities between the two time periods, Springsteen generates a work that calls for the return of the human spirit to a despondent society in the same vein Steinbeck does in The Grapes of Wrath.

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