General Parallels • “On one level it is the story of the family’s struggle for survival in the Promised Land. . . . (Abraham, Isaac, and Sarah) • On another level it is the story of a people’s struggle, the migrants’. (Israelites--Exodus from slavery in Egypt) • On a third level it is the story of a nation, America. (Biblical Nation of Israel) • On still another level, through . . . the allusions to Christ and those to the Israelites and Exodus, it becomes the story of mankind’s quest for profound comprehension of his commitment to his fellow man and to the earth he inhabits.” • (Louis Owens, qtd. in xiii)
The Joads and the Book of Job • The Biblical story makes an example of people whose faith is tested through struggle. • Satan visits God and God asks him, 'Have you seen my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth - a man of complete integrity. He fears God and has nothing to do with evil.' (Job 1:8). • God permits Satan to test Job in any way, without harming him physically. After losing all his material processions and family, Job remains strong in his faith, although he struggles and wrestles with such dramatic changes in his life. • We observe a similar situation with the Joad family, who experience drastic changes and great suffering, and who, like Job, survive due to their inner strength or faith.
Noah and the Flood • When the Joad family crams their car with their processions, it can be likened to Noah and his family in Genesis, who spend time loading the ark with animals, as God has ordered. The Joads must also gather all the important things they need in order to ensure survival. • As we continue reading the novel, consider Noah Joad’s connection to the river and the water, as well as his relationship to the Joad family as a whole.
The Promised Land • The Book of Numbers in The Hebrew Bible tells of the arduous journey of the Israelites, who had suffered under slavery in Egypt and left to seek the Promised Land. • “When they came to what is now known as the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also took samples of the pomegranates and figs.” (Numbers 13:23)
Jim Casy as Christ-like Figure • The most obvious indicators are the shared initials between the two of them and also the religious agenda they both explore. • Casy is the voice of the modern faith, constantly thinking and re-evaluating his ideas about how people live their lives. However, despite his initial questioning and self-doubt, he also becomes a powerful champion of the poor. • Casy is likened to Jesus Christ as an advocate for change, and in his generosity and love for the common people
Rose of Sharon • Her name is likely an allusion to this line from the The Hebrew Bible: "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys" (Song of Solomon 2:1). The Song of Solomon is a collection of love poems that has been interpreted by many Jewish and Christian scholars as allegorical. • The poems are not about sexual or romantic love between humans, but about God’s love for humanity. • The character Rose of Sharon seems to be a sexually active young woman, but she is also described as having been transformed by her pregnancy into someone who is almost saintly in demeanor and appearance.
Others • Uncle John puts Rose of Sharon’s stillborn baby in an old apple crate and floats it downstream. Moses, a Jewish leader was saved in a basket placed in the bullrushes of Egypt. • The family starts out as a family of 12-including Connie; Connie represents the betrayer, Judas. • The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground...” (Genesis 2:7a). • No doubt the most obvious subject in the novel is dust. In fact, the dust that comes from the land defines the people who tend it, care for it, cry for it, and love it. Steinbeck uses this particular allusion to show the deep connections between the people and the land.