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"Tom, I ain't a goin' on." Tom sat up. "What you mean?" "Tom, I ain't a-gonna leave this here water. I'm a-gonna walk on down this here river." "You're crazy," Tom said. "Get myself a piece a line. I'll catch fish. Fella can't starve beside a nice river." (284)

This conversation that took place between Noah and Tom in chapter 18 of The Grapes of Wrath supported my notion that Noah may function as a Christ figure. I suppose Noah's misshapen head as a result of being pulled from his mother's womb can be likened to being wounded in the head, or wearing a crown of thorns. We already compared Noah to the biblical Noah. Noah's loading of the truck bed is comparable to the loading of the arc, although there was no flood. Noah is also described as lacking sexual urges, meaning he could be celibate. In the above passage, Noah expresses his wishes to remain in the wilderness, to walk down the river and to catch fish. However, I am struggling to decide why Noah would leave his family. Noah said he knew the family was nice to him, but did not really care for him; nevertheless, he seemed to be forgiving. Perhaps leaving the family was a self-sacrificing act;especially, since Noah knew the load was too heavy and resources were scarce. Maybe the notion that Noah is a christ figure is far-fetched. Did any of you connect these ideas? or do you disagree?


I completely agree with you. I picked up on the fact that his name was Noah, no sexual desires, the truck thing, and how he wanted to stay behind and be his own and do his own thing. I think there is a lot of biblical references in this book that we're supposed to connect the characters in the book to people in the Bible. I, just like you, do not understand why Noah decided to stay and not continue with his family because although he says they were nice but didn't really care that was also because Tom just came back recently. So I do agree with the Christ-figure being Noah in this story.
Also, this is nothing to do with your passage except for the Christ-figure part, but I thought of Casy as a Christ figure when he took the fall for Tom tripped that guy and he went to jail and not Tom. That's just me.

Alicia Campbell said:

It is interesting to think of Casy as a Christ figure. I agree that he definitely has qualities that portray him as such, but the opposite is also true. Foster says that a character need not be exactly like Christ to be a Christ figure. Casy comes across as sinful and lost, but maybe we are supposed to look past these qualities and consider those that matter more. For example, Casy shows consideration for others when he lets the family meet in private. I suppose his taking the blame to spare Tom can be seen as a self-sacrificing act, so maybe you're right, and Casy is a Christ figure, too. Maybe I failed to notice since it wasn't as obvious as Noah...

There doesn't have to be a single Christ figure in the novel... Rose of Sharon's unborn child promises hope, like the Christ Child... and Jim Casey's initials "JC" may also be a hint. Alicia has pointed out some of the ways that Noah fits the pattern of Christ, and I think when we notice the pervasive self-sacrifice from the poor characters, and the unrelenting persecution from the rich characters, we begin to see how Steinbeck uses the concept of sacrifice to tell his story. Thanks for starting a good discussion, Alicia.

Joshua WIlks said:

I didnt even see this kind of connection with noah. I like all of the facts presented to support him as a "christ figure" I never made that connection with the celibacy. The way that Noah is first introduced we see him as someone who just does what he does and doesnt really care. It is strange that he would want to leave the family but he doesnt really care about anything in particular so it really isnt that surprising.

Rebecca Marrie said:

I don't believe Noah was a Christ figure, personally, I feel that he represents the actual biblical Noah. Like the biblical Noah who spent 40 years on arc, he too feels a connection to water and decides to live off the river. Both Noahs' sacrifice for the good of their family. The biblical Noah undergoes much mocking for building an arc which no one found necessary, and Steinbeck's Noah leaves his close-knit family in order to fend for himself so that they don't have to feed another person.

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Recent Comments

Rebecca Marrie on Self-sacrifice???: I don't believe Noah was a Chr
Joshua WIlks on Self-sacrifice???: I didnt even see this kind of
Dennis G. Jerz on Self-sacrifice???: There doesn't have to be a sin
Alicia Campbell on Self-sacrifice???: It is interesting to think of
Chelsie Bitner on Self-sacrifice???: I completely agree with you.