The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
Contributed by Vernita Mires
Chapter 3

At the side of the road, a turtle crawls, dragging its shell over the grass. This animal comes to the road embankment and, with great effort, climbs onto the road. As the turtle attempts to cross the road, it is nearly hit by a sedan. A truck swerves to hit the turtle, but its wheel only strikes the edge of the turtle's shell and spins the turtle back off the highway. The turtle finds itself on its back, but finally sets itself right.


The turtle is a symbol of the working class farmers whose stories and struggles are recounted in The Grapes of Wrath. The turtle plods along dutifully, but is consistently confronted with danger and setbacks. Significantly, the dangers posed to the turtle are those of modernity and business: the intrusion of cars and the building of highways both endanger the turtle. The truck that strikes this creature is a symbol of big business and commerce. The Joad family -- which will soon be introduced in its entirety -- will experience travails analogous to those of the turtle as the family members plod along, wishing only to survive yet brutally pushed aside by corporate interests.

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