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Allusions of Exodus in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

Promised Land

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Baby in a Basket
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Passing of the Elders
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Allusions to paradise-like destination

3:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

-Book of Exodus, Old Testament
 
13:20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.

-Book of Numbers, Old Testament

 

These passages from the Old Testament describe the land of Canaan, the destination of their exodus from Egypt.  It is described as the land of "milk and honey," the ideal land and essentially paradise for the Israelites, driving them to continue on their long and arduous journey. 

"But I like to think how nice it's gonna be, maybe, in California.  Never cold.  An' fruit ever'place, an' people just bein' in the necest places, little white houses in among the orange trees.  I wonder- that is, if we all get jobs an' all work- maybe we can get one of them little white houses.  An' the little fellas go out an' pick oranges right off the tree."
 
-The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 10, page 124
 
This passage, spoken by Ma, summates the general idea of all the Oklahoma farmers looking to move West to California.  It is described as an ever prosperous place of warmth, fetility, and fruitfulness.  The connection between the two texts is uncanny.
 
 

"An' I got to thinkin', Ma- most of the preachin' is about the poor we shall have always with us, an' if you got nothin', why, jus' fol' your hands an' to hell with it, you gonna git ice cream on gol' plates when you're dead."
 
-The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 28, page 571

This quote from Tom happens to state "ice cream on gol' plates when you're dead," a direct reference to milk and honey in the land of Canaan.  Ice cream, being a dairy product of frozen milk, and gold plates, being a form of 'golden honey,' is obvious.  Being received in death, at the end of a long journey such as life, relates the gifts of ice cream and gold plates to the gifts of milk and honey at the end of a long journey to Canaan.

Created by Phil, Jesse and Ben