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Eco-critical Study on the Grapes of Wrath

Author ZhangJinQiu
Tutor OuYangZuo
School Harbin Engineering University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords The Grapes of Wrath ecocriticism Steinbeck
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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John Steinbeck remains one of the most significant realistic American writers in the 20 th century. As a Nobel Prize winner, his prestige is mainly associated with The Grapes of Wrath, which was published in 1939. This novel symbolizes Steinbeck’s summit in literature creation ideologically and artistically, which is also a piece of work with special meaning. This immortal masterpiece faithfully records social conditions in 1930s America and exposes the darkness and the injustice during the Great Depression.The novel describes the desperate plight of the Joads, an "Okie" family, joining the thousands of farm families to march to California. They encounter hatred, violence, and grinding poverty even worse than they have known in Oklahoma. Since its publication, there have been divergent comments on this book. This thesis attempts to apply ecocriticism to studying this masterpiece in order to probe into Steinbeck’s severe criticism of the long-standing ideas of anthropocentrism in the western world, and disclose the political, social and economical roots of the eco-disaster in the United States in the 1930s and express the idea that human destiny is closely associated with that of nature. Therefore, the work can also be regarded as a great work of eco-literature.

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