It's not all a wash...

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Turning Wine to Water: Water as a privileged signifier in The Grapes of Wrath-

Cassuto, David


In reading this article I must admit is seemed difficult to follow, and I know that it is because I am not on the level that a person is that would be writing this type of academic paper, which is fine.  However I did seem to pull some things from what I read.


I believe that the obvious is the Garden of Eden, American dream, land of the plenty, the significance of water, laws of nature, laws of the government and capitalism.  What I found to be intriguing was that fact that Cassuto states,

            The sight of faceless corporate "monsters" intentionally destroying the land's

            Fertility moved the tenants to violence.  Yet the Joads and their neighbors had

often planted cotton and were at present sharecropping frenziedly in order to build

up a stake to take west: "The whole bunch of us chopped cotton, even Grampa"

(90).  The differences between the Okies and the banks lay more in scale and

philosophy than methodology and eventual result.  Both sides participated in the

capitalist mechanism, but the banks had better adapted to thrive within it.  (78)

I see this statement as an unobvious claim, I would not have considered the tenants as exploiting capitalism as well, but reading this article it has given me another thought, and I can now see this POV.  I know that I had stated in my paper 1 a quote from page 205 about the tractor being considered the evil enemy of capitalism because it turns the tenants off of the land.  But really this does not support capitalism being evil, as Dr. Jerz pointed out to me, it is a type of communal ownership of the means of production, a type of farm co-op in a socialistic society.  So just because the characters Steinbeck writes of may not seem to intend to take on the selfish role it seemed of capitalism, they often did and Cassuto does not seem to accurse them, even if it was in ignorance.

Cassuto also states,

            This ideological evolution progressed naturally from the dominant myths.  As

industrialism began to dominate the West, the accompanying mindset fit a unique

niche in the Amercian dream of rugged individualism and merit-based


This statement shows that the people have to become educated and leave behind the myths, in order to survive in the new era.  To me Cassuto often confused me, but actually made me think more about certain pieces that he was touching on that seemed relevant to me.  He also did though have many pieces that I just could not relate to, but that is to be expected at my level I suppose.  But I do not consider it a wash, it had good points.



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