The Grapes of Wrath

Society and Collectivism 11th Grade

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s experiences in life create a pathway that guides the development of his morals and values. Through his journey, he establishes a unique interpretation towards life that he culminates in “Self Reliance.” By understanding Emerson’s philosophy, John Steinbeck accomplishes his desire to spread collectivism though The Grapes of Wrath. Realizing the superfluous amount of conformity and consistency in society, Steinbeck utilizes his characters to stress the importance of self-reliance because it broadcasts the benefits of collectivism while igniting the development of original ideas that could change society.

The notion of self-reliance invokes change in Jim Casy’s life. Throughout his life, the preacher relies on religion to dictate his life and his decisions because society stresses devoutness, thus influencing his decision to preach. Along with the desire to create happiness for the people that he encounters, conformity hinders Casy from reflecting on his own morals. His inability to act on his own opinion causes religion to consume his life. Emerson argues, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”(24). Since mankind “are loath to disappoint,” Casy constantly preaches “somepin [he] thought...

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