Grapes of Wrath: Awakening Of Tom Joad


Grapes of Wraith by John Steinbeck portrayed the awakening of a man\'s
conscience dealing with his troubling trials throughout the novel. The character
that goes through this monumental change is Tom Joad, son of two tenant farmers
from Oklahoma. Tom\'s conscience was changed from a loner who cared nothing about
the people to a hardy leader of them. He first looked after his family on their
trip that evolved into including the impoverished migrant farmers in California.

At the beginning of the novel Tom Joad has just been paroled after
spending four years in a state prison. He stops at a roadside cafe looking for a
ride when he sees a truck with a "No Riders" sticker on it. Tom\'s conversation
with this trucker is his first witness to the suppression of an honest working
man by the larger more wealthy corporations since his release from prison. The
trucker tries to socialize with him at this point but Tom is too absorbed into
his own interest in keeping to himself.
Arriving at his house with Jim Casey, Tom visits the abandoned house
with one corner having been knocked in by a tractor. His family had been
compelled to leave their land through repossession by the large corporations
another example in Tom\'s life how the larger are trying to control the less
fortunate. This land had been his family\'s source of pride and livelihood
throughout his life with them and it\'s loss was the first sizable impact on
Tom\'s conscience that would lead him to an awakening.
After visiting the land the Joad family had lived on for many years Tom
and Jim traveled to his uncle John\'s house nearby. There Tom meets his family as
they are making preparations to leave for California. Tom\'s family has already
sold off every valuable possession they own while living under cramped
conditions on old and soiled mattresses in a house not built to accommodate the
size of the entire family. Tom realizes that a family cannot survive under these
destitute conditions unless they cling together as one unit. Because of this
realization Tom becomes protective of his family, leaving casting off portions
of his selfishness for the betterment of his relatives.
Tom\'s final awakening comes when he meets Jim Casy for the final time
outside a work camp in the midst of a strike. There Jim Casy tells Tom that the
only way the worker\'s can obtain law and order as well as, fair wages, is to
unite all the migrant workers together and fight against the larger controlling
companies. The statement is driven home when he witnesses Jim Casy\'s passive
resistance in response to the threatened violence by the cops. As the police
advance on Jim Casy he yells towards them, " Listen, you fellas don\' know what
you\'re doin\'. You\'re helpin\' to starve kids." moments before his head is
brutally crushed by a pick handle. Enraged by the actions unfolded before him
Tom grabs a pick handle and clubs one of the officers to death before hastily
fleeing from the scene.
This event finally made possible the awakening of Tom Joad. He
recognized that if a common man were to ever get a fair chance to live their
life, they would be forced to do so under a united cause. Tom\'s awakening came
slowly as he struggled to understand the toils of needing, not only to care for
his family but organize the migrant workers into a force where they can achieve
fair rights. During the final chapters of the novel Tom recognizes the
importance of Jim Casy\'s work to unify the people bringing about a final
awakening of his conscience.

Category: English