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Education Of The Heart Essay, Research Paper

John Steinbeck shows the readers many themes in “The Grapes of Wrath”. One

of the most apparent is as Steinbeck stated, “The Joads passage through a process of

education for the heart.” Many characters in “The Grapes or Wrath” exhibit this theme,

but it is valiantly apparent in the actions of the Joads as a family, Tom, Casy, and Rose of


Although each person in the Joad family is a separate individual, the family often

acts as thought it were one person. As one might expect the experiences they incur

change the family personality. At the end of the book the Joads have lost their family

identity, but they’ve replaced it with something equally worthy: they’ve found kinship

with other migrant families. The Joads merge with the Wainwrights and the Wilsons,

because each family needed the other and the fragmented family becomes whole again.

The members don’t share last names, but they give support to each other in the form of

food, blankets, a kind word, medicine, advice, and even love. As Casy says, “nobody has

an individual soul, but everybody’s just got a piece of a great big soul.” By opening their

hearts the Joads transformed into members of the universal family.

Rose of Sharon, the eighteen year old daughter goes through a miraculous

transformation of the heart as the journey progresses. When the Joads first begin their

torrid journey Connie, Roses husband, and Rose set themselves apart from the mundane

matters that occupy the rest of the family. They focus solely on the baby and dwell in the

future instead of the present. They dream of the house they’ll buy for the baby in

California, about the car they’ll drive, and about Connie’s schooling and job. When the

going gets tough, Connie abandons his young wife, which may have been the turning

point in Roses life. As time the birth approaches, Rose of Sharon does a surprising thing

for someone in her delicate state, as she insists on picking cotton with the rest of her

family. After a few days the baby is born dead and she seems relieved to know that she

won’t have to raise a child in awesome poverty. Suffering through childbirth has perhaps

opened her eyes. Throughout the book we have seen her concerned almost exclusively

with herself and her problems. Now she looks out at the world and turns completely

about. In an act of extreme charity, she suckles a dying man with the milk of human

kindness. Rose of Sharon discovers that everybody must be treated as family if they are

to endure. It’s a message of love, which Rose of Sharon powerfully dramatizes for us in a


Jim Casy, one of the three most important characters in the Grapes of Wrath only

appears in about one third of the book, yet we rarely forget him. Although Casy was

never a Joad, even Tom had stated he’s close enough to be a Joad. Casy, a former

preacher, retreats from organized religion because hypocrisy and a weakness for women

have forced him to reexamine his beliefs. He…

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