The Grapes of Wrath and religious symbolism

The title of The Grapes of Wrath is a reflection of the phrase used by Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored . . .”), a reflection itself of the Bible verse at Revelation 14:19 (“And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast [it] into the great winepress of the wrath of God”).

What are some reasons John Steinbeck might have chosen this for his title? Does it fit the book well?

What other allusions to religious imagery or symbolism does Steinbeck make in The Grapes of Wrath? How does he use it and why? Is it effective?

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2 responses to “The Grapes of Wrath and religious symbolism

  1. As well as the religious symbolism referred to, agriculture plays an important role in the story. The agricultural disaster of the dustbowl that moved people out of Oklahoma and other states, and the fruit farms that offered them employment in California.
    I think this also refers here to the anger of Americans at the economic failure and corruption they were forced to live through during the depression.

    • albanypubliclibrary

      I think nature itself can be elevated nearly to the point of being another character in the book… could nature be interpreted as “the great winepress of the wrath of God”?

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