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March 23, 2009

Comments on David Cassuto's Essay

"The flooding that climaxes the novel is thematically situated to provide maximum counterpoint to the drought which originally forced the Joads to migrate west. Disenfranchised and dehumanized, the Joads can only curse the rising floodwaters even as they once prayed for a deluge to feed their parched crops. The cycle of alienation appears complete; people whose humanity was once integrally tied to the land and the weather now care nothing for the growing season or the health of the earth. Their survival has come to depend on shelter from the elements rather than the elements themselves."(Cassuto)
I think Cassuto makes a valid argument in this essay, claiming that: " The Grapes of Wrath represents an indictment of the American myth of the garden and its accompanying myth of the frontier."
He offers an exstensive explanation to his thesis and backs it up with Biblical references as well as quotes taken from witnesses of the plight of American agriculture during the era of The Great Depression. The quote I used from his essay stuck out to me because of the irony we see. When I came to this part in the novel I felt very much like what Cassuto explains. I do however feel that this essay could have been based around a more non-obvious claim, since the lack of water or hydration is such a big aspect of the novel that it is difficult to argue against Cassuto's claim. The length and depth of his research in this essay is probably a tactic used by Cassuto in order to overwhelm the reader with valid fctual evidence in support of his thesis so that they aren't really thinking about how obvious his claim is. The quotation I borrowed from his essay is a section that I felt wasn't so obvious and the close reading that he did was accurate and interesting to think about.

Posted by QuinnKerno at March 23, 2009 10:31 AM


I am glad to see that I am not the only one that feels that Cassuto did not get to the point quickly. I noticed that he seemed to stray away from talking about the actual novel at hand just to give all these facts about the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. It does not seem that many of his points were relvant.
Quite honestly, the quote that u chose was one of the very few sections that actually kept my attention and actually seemed to have any relevance.

Posted by: Nikita McClellan at March 23, 2009 12:42 PM

It seemed he was just going on and on about it(dustbowl/depression/etc.) so much so that, as you say, much of the time he lost the relevence of his thesis. I tried to figure out why he would write this essay the way he did, do you agree with my assumption that he was trying to avoid the fact that his thesis was obvious by using so much wording?

Posted by: Quinn Kerno at March 23, 2009 2:42 PM

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