Notes on Grapes of Wrath Themes

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Grapes of Wrath Topic Tracking: Holiness

Topic Tracking: Holiness

Topic Tracking: Holiness

Chapter 4

Holiness 1: A former preacher, Jim Casy, tells Tom Joad why he gave up the gospel. He says that even when he was in spirit he would commit sins, like sleeping with girls after leading a meeting. So after some consideration, Casy reconciles his experiences by creating new definitions of spiritual things. He decides that just living is what is holy, and that what he had previously called the spirit was simply love for other people. He also decides that there is no sin or virtue.

Chapter 8

Holiness 2: When asked to say grace before breakfast, Jim Casy, launches into an explanation of his new beliefs which is treated as a prayer by the Joad family. He says he went into the wilderness, like Jesus had, to think, and he discovered that there was no god. There was only the hills and he, and they were one. Casy decided that oneness was holy, but he is still not sure what he means by holy.

Chapter 12

Holiness 3: Amidst the harsh conditions and cruel treatment the migrants endure on their trip west, rare acts of kindness also exist. A man in a sedan picks up a migrant family in their trailer, pulls them across the country, and feeds them as well. This is a beautiful thing, which rekindles faith in the human race.

Chapter 13

Holiness 4: As Grampa nears death, Granma demands that Casy say a prayer. She yells "Pray, goddamn you!" So Casy recites the Lord's prayer mechanically, but Grampa dies before it is finished and Casy cuts the prayer short.

Holiness 5: Casy gives a strange eulogy at Grampa's burial in which he says it does not matter whether Grampa was good or bad. He explains that the dead are unimportant and that all that is living is holy.

Chapter 18

Holiness 6: Sairy Wilson asks Casy to say a silent prayer for her when she is on her deathbed. She says she used to sing, and felt very close to the people she sang to. She says singing is like praying; it brings people together.

Holiness 7: Uncle John talks about his sins with Casy. He says he believes he is bringing bad luck to the family. He asks Casy for advice. Casy tells him that no one can tell him what is a sin and is not a sin. He tells him to decide for himself.

Chapter 19

Holiness 8: The oppressed migrants pray that they may find an escape from their suffering, but one day they will stop praying and do something about their situation.

Chapter 20

Holiness 9: Casy used to think prayer could ease the migrants' troubles, but now he sees that they need leadership to solve their problems.

Chapter 22

Holiness 10: Mrs. Sandry, the only religious figure of significance in the novel, is portrayed as a fanatic. She condemns everyone in the government camp as a sinner. She condemns dancing and music and theatrics as the vilest of sins, and warns that God's retribution will be harsh.

Chapter 23

Holiness 11: Migrants on rare occasions find pleasure in alcohol. Drinking softens the pains of the migrant life and exaggerates the pleasures. When drunk everything and everyone is holy.

Chapter 28

Holiness 12: While Tom is in hiding, he thinks about every thing that Casy has told him and decided he too will try to lead the migrants. He quotes scripture that supports the idea that men should work together and says that every man is really part of every other man.

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