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The theme of hope develops through the character of Ma Joad who struggles to keep her family together despite that the Joads have encountered many deaths, hardships, and deprivations.In fact, at the end of the narrative, the author describes the family as barely surviving (Steinbeck 455).
Another major theme in The Grapes of Wrath entails class conflict.
A conflict exists between the poor migrants, native Californians, and the powerful business people (Steinbeck 23).
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The most dominant theme of The Grapes of Wrath is that of the oversoul.
In the Hooverville, for instance, Ma is at first reluctant to share her stew with hungry children who are not her own; in the end, however, she does share it.
The novel's final scene offers the fullest image of "the oversoul," in which Rose of Sharon-who for so long before the delivery of her child was concerned only with her own (legitimate) needs-offers the milk her body made for her own stillborn baby to a man dying of hunger.
Just as all people must come to know their place in the "oversoul" of the human family, so must people recognize that all life, physical and spiritual, is holy.
For this reason, perhaps, Casy tells Uncle John repeatedly that the only "sin" is what people decide is "sin." It may also be the reason John is presented as such a tortured character: Were he able to simply acknowledge his past, both its good and its bad, rather than judge it, he might live more at peace with himself.
In the first few chapters, the author gives the reader an opportunity to participate in the story of the Joads by exploring their experience in their traditional life and their new found life, but in the last sixteen chapters; the author takes a broader look at the experience of displaced migrants in America as a whole.
As a result, the novel portrays the issue of land ownership in California and America at large, the conflicts between the Haves and the Have-nots, people’s reactions to injustices, and the strength of a woman (Steinbeck ix).