Steinbeck's Okies: Three Critical Perspectives Term Paper

Total Length: 1546 words ( 5 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: -14

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Ed. Peter Lisca and Kevin Hearle. New York, NY: Penguin, 1997. 604-615.



The three critical appraisals this essay will examine shows a changing "magnification." Each of our three critics has the "Okies" under the microscopic; but they employ three different lenses to examine their subjects. As we move from Reed to Owens to Gladstein, the calibration of the microscope moves steadily away. The movement starts with a narrow aperture, and "zooms out" to encompass a universal perspective: the "Okies" however, remain solidly in the center of our lens' field of vision.


John R. Reed, in his article "The Grapes of Wrath and the Esthetics of Indigence" close scrutiny of life & language of the migrants.

A reveals their dignity focus firmly on them, no need for archetypal / biblical interpretation

Louis Owens, in his article "The American Joads," widens the lens of perspective symbolic of the entire American ethos: the westward search for the Biblical "Eden.
" need for larger vision to understand Steinbeck's Okies centrality of bible to U.S. expansion centrality of bible to Steinbeck's vision

Mimi Reisel Gladstein, in her article, "The Grapes of Wrath: Steinbeck and the Eternal Immigrant," goes one further and backs the lens off even more

Okies as a universal metaphor for immigrant workers throughout the world

Gladstein's immigrant background - her reading reflects her own experience she employs sociological terms like "ethnophaulism" her examination of language contrasts to Reed's examination of language summing up….....

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