Grapes of Wrath Non-Teleological Essay

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Ashton Pickell 11/4/12 APLAC A3 John Steinbeck, in the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, suggests that every person, no matter who they are, lives their life in a non-teleological way. Steinbeck supports his suggestion by illustrating the plight of the migrant, the employed, and the bank through metaphor, symbolism, and repetition. The author’s purpose is to illustrate the revolving pattern of Man in order to reveal its reality. Steinbeck writes in an informal tone for curious intellectuals. Steinbeck uses metaphor to give a description of what is happening in the country and uses it as one of the main plot drivers of the non-teleological mindset in the novel. Steinbeck writes, “The bank—the monster has to have profits all the time…When the monster stops growing, it dies” (32). Comparing the bank to a monster that cannot be stopped or allowed to be slowed down, he emphasizes the magnitude of size of the bank, as if it were a huge demonic being that cannot be approached by any mortal. The bank’s growth can be said to be a non-teleological existence, because while the bank’s goal is to grow, its growth is taken step by step, farm by farm, not seeing any real future, but just to keep on doing what it has been doing since its existence. Metaphors can also be found on page 162; “He went to the third slot machine and played his nickels in, and on the fifth spin of the wheels the three bars came up and the jack pot dumped out into his cup...’Number three gets more play’n the others’”. Steinbeck’s use of the slot machine at the diner is a reflection of mass movement of migrant workers; all moving west on the same routes, wanting to hit the “jackpot of life” working out in the so-called good life state, only to not win at all and those winnings taken away by those who already have enough to live on. Although this quote isn’t necessarily non-teleological, the use of the

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