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Give me that old-time religion

"Granma, not following the conversation, bleated, 'Pu-raise Gawd fur vittory.'"
--The Grapes of Wrath, page 79
I chose this quote for two reasons: first, because I think Granma and Grampa are hilarious, and second, because religion is depicted very uniquely in the story so far. Granma seems to be devout because she constantly invokes God and wants a grace to be said at the table, but her religiousness does not appear to be extremely sincere; she repeats "Pu-raise Gawd fur vittory" over and over again, even in situations where it is not appropriate such as in the passage I've pointed out. They treat Jim Casy like a profound holy man, although he's given up the preaching game. He too appears to have been going through the motions, preaching about Christian values and then fornicating with the local church girls immediately afterward. He mentions that he never really felt sincere when praying for forgiveness. Granma, while certainly enthusiastic, does not really seem to be religious out of a deep need for spiritual enlightenment but more out of habit; look at that awkward scene in which Casy attempts to say grace, and Granma, not noticing that he's talking about experiencing doubts and going through a spiritual crisis, exclaims "Hallelujah" and rocks herself, "trying to catch hold of an ecstasy" (81). It's interesting to note that Granma often "bleats" these things, like a sheep following the shepherd Jesus referred to himself as. Like a mindless sheep, she follows the shepherd no matter where he leads.
All of the people in this novel appear to be going through an intense amount of social and economic upheaval. In losing their homes and having to uproot themselves to the other side of the country, it makes sense that the characters would struggle with or at least reevaluate their faith. However, Casy's concept of humans and nature being "one thing" that is holy may be a form of faith that the characters will find a more genuine connection with. Steinbeck, in bringing the family together and sending them on a journey (or, as Foster would call it, a quest), certainly seems to be stressing that groups of people, rather than the lone Muley who is losing his grip on sanity, are more likely to survive. Maybe Granma's "herd" mentality will win out in the end. Will this togetherness help them succeed? We shall see...

Comments (1)

Granma and Grampa are by far my favorite characters in this book so far. But I found it interesting how Jim Casy decided he wasn't a preacher anymore? I wanted to know how or why he became a preacher and then why he didn't want to be anymore. And because he says he's not anymore he didn't want to say grace. I found that oddly interesting.

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