Messages can be conveyed to an audience in a number of different ways, whether it is a poem, a written story, or a movie. These different methods have the ability to convey similar messages but one method in particular will tend to be more successful than the others. A common example of this is the argument concerning the comparison of a book and a movie, which is better? Popular books that have been recently made into movies are Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games and fans tend to have a strong opinion of which version they prefer.
Specific people have their own reasons for choosing which they favor, but the trend seems to be that books are preferred to the respective movie due to the incorporation of detail and narration within the text that isn’t able to be included in movie dialogue. This is displayed in an obvious manner when looking at the John Ford’s movie made for the classic book The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck.
Although both texts follow a similar story line, a stronger rhetorical message is delivered to the audience in the book compared to the movie.
Both the book and the movie portray parallel themes, however, specific illustrations in the book both strengthen and sensitize the meaning derived from the text, making it easier for the audience to fully grasp the emotion of the story. These specific illustrations found in the book include the diction used in dialogue, the apparent division between the rich and the poor, the importance of unification as a family, and the benefits of being resilient.
While these ideas are touched upon in the movie, they are included in a more passive fashion, taking away from the dominance of the message. Steinbeck’s version of The Grapes of Wrath was very thorough in creating an experience for the audience that took them through the harsh reality of the Great Depression. When analyzing the rhetorical messages, there were four persuasive ideas that were presented to the reader. The first was achieved by the use of diction in the dialogue between the characters.
The dialect that was used throughout the text gave the readers a true sense of the times; the broken English made it clear that the level of education was very low and that the people who were migrating to the West were those of the lower class. An excerpt such as, “No. Go on. Ain’t goin’. Gonna res’ here. No good goin’ back. No good to nobody—jus’ a-draggin’ my sins like dirty drawers ‘mongst nice folks. No. Ain’t goin’” (Chapter 20), is a good representation of the dialect used throughout the book. This use of language made it evident that proper English was not a priority for these people.
Instead, they used their energy and intellect to find food to eat for that particular day. The message received from this aspect of the book was that this story plot is from a very different time period compared to today and the people involved were clearly focused on simply surviving from day to day rather than being grammatically correct. The second idea established in the book was one that presented a battle that called on survival of the fittest, not in terms of human versus weather, illness, or bad luck, but against other humans.
After the low-class farm workers were forced off of their land by high-class corporation workers, families started to make arrangements to travel across the country to California where jobs could be found. Car salesmen took advantage of the high demand by drastically increasing prices and purposefully putting in bad parts to deter the families later down the road, “If we sold that bargain at that price we’d hardly make a dime. Tell ’em it’s jus’ sold. Take out that yard battery before you make delivery. Put in that dumb cell” (Chapter 7).
This is a prime example of one group of people taking advantage of another group to survive and make money. The migrating families had no choice but to pay outrageous prices for poorly conditioned cars in order to travel to work to feed their family, a vicious cycle to say the least. A more obvious instance of this conflict between two groups of people is seen in Chapter 24 when men were paid by the police to start a riot in the government funded camp (a place where police aren’t allowed without a warrant) at a Saturday dance so the police could arrest Okies, slang for the migrators.
Although unsuccessful, this type of forced riot exemplifies the Westerners having a vendetta against the migrators and trying to interfere with their life to force them out of their homeland. An additional example is the issue of weighing cotton for pay; owners fixed the scales to avoid paying workers the correct amount. At the end of the day, people need money to eat and provide for their families and those with the most money have the easiest time surviving. The message taken from this is that, in order to survive, these people had to fight and outsmart each other in human versus human type nteractions; may the best man win. The third idea working to persuade readers was the importance of people staying together. In regards to the Joad family and all migrating families as a whole, it seemed most beneficial to remain unified and to work as a team. Ma Joad was always very concerned that her family stuck together. It was important that Grandpa traveled along with the family when they were first leaving in Chapter 10 and she felt the same about Tom when he wanted to leave in Chapter 26, even though it was safer for the family she wanted her son to stay.
Not only was it important for the Joads to remain compact, but everyone who was traveling as well, “In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream” (Chapter 17). With the earlier explained idea of the survival of the fittest, it was most advantageous for all who were struggling to help each other out and beat the odds together. The fourth idea that was made extremely evident at the end of the book was the importance of being resilient.
After countless mishaps, deaths, and struggles, the Joads never stopped helping others. Despite their continuous struggles, they always showed resilience and found a way to lend a helping hand. When Ma Joad made stew for the family after setting up at a new camp, starving children eyed her. Instead of saving leftovers for the family, she selflessly fed the children, “You little fellas go an’ get you each a flat stick an’ I’ll put what’s lef’ for you. But they ain’t to be no fightin’. ” The group broke up with a deadly, silent swiftness.
Children ran to find sticks” (Chapter 20). Even more honorable was Rose of Sharon at the end of the book, who breast-fed a dying, malnourished man despite her heartbreak of giving birth to a stillborn baby. This last scene undoubtedly inspires readers to find the good in people, especially those who can be as resilient as the Joads, who continued to give to others even when their situation was terrible. Ford’s version of The Grapes of Wrath was similar to Steinbeck’s novel in a few ways.
The dialect was authentic and brought the audience to a time period where the intelligence level of the lower class was very poor. There was an evident disconnect between the upper and lower class, which provided the survival of the fittest feel. This was seen all along, starting from the two men who drove up to Uncle John’s house in a luxurious black car informing the family they were to be evacuated by seven the next morning, all the way to the police who staged a riot to have the ability to arrest innocent people.
Also apparent in the movie was the importance of staying together as one. The Joads worked in a cooperative manner as a family, made sure to stay together, and also helped others who they could see needed help. While there were similarities between the novel and the movie, there were many differences that separated the two texts entirely. There were many scenes that were left out of the movie entirely, which changed the feel of the story line.
These scenes include the death of the family dog, which provided an element of foreshadowing of hardships to come, the car dealership, which amplified the hype of the issue of money and danger of travel, and the ending was entirely different; rather than having Rose of Sharon breast feeding a starving man, the movie left things on a positive note with the Joads finding a safe camp to live at. Additionally, the movie didn’t demonstrate the sense of chaos in the large number of migrators traveling on Route 66 or show any scenes of actual work being done on the farms.
Instead, it focused more on the Joads, taking away from the large demand for work for these families. Yes, there were elements of division between the rich and poor, the importance of working together, and the benefits of being resilient present in the movie, but they didn’t reach the audience in a demanding manner like they did in the book. After a thorough analysis of the two texts of The Grapes of Wrath, it is with great confidence that the book is deemed the better form in comparison to the movie. It is true that the movie closely follows the plot of the book, but it is done so in a very nonchalant fashion.
Many details are left out; where was the Wilson family? Was Rose of Sharon pregnant? The scenes of the movie left the audience content and encouraged, while the novel left readers slightly uncomfortable and worried about what would happen next. Yes, the book went into extreme detail about certain things, but that is what makes the experience and the message so much more realistic and comprehendible. The four points previously discussed that were found in the book are present in the movie, but at a much lesser level of detail and expression, leaving the rhetorical messages dull.
A better understanding of what actually occurred during the Great Depression and what it meant to survive as a family was portrayed in Steinbeck’s piece because of his articulation and attention to detail, something that wasn’t as superior in Ford’s movie. It seems unnecessary to decide which one of these two texts was “better”, Steinbeck’s novel won the Pulitzer Prize and Ford’s movie was nominated for an Oscar, however, these two methods of telling The Grapes of Wrath presented two different messages for the audience to interpret.
With that, it is necessary to look at which text was more successful at delivering specific messages to the audience. The level of detail and harsh realistic feel of the novel made the messages more profound in comparison to the movie, which was more optimistic. As previously stated, both Steinbeck and Ford were working with the same plot and aiming to deliver relatively the same message, but Steinbeck was able to engage his readers to a stronger extent because of the true feel that he incorporated through dialogue, background information provided by a narrator, and the raw ending of the novel.
The way in which the messages of the division between the rich and the poor, the importance of unification as a family, and the benefits of being resilient were merged in Steinbeck’s piece was more successful overall than the way they were displayed in Ford’s piece. While both pieces are world renowned and respected, the movie gave a pleasant feel that wasn’t quite true for those who lived through the Great Depression. With that, John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath best gives the audience to the ability to grasp and understand the emotion of the story. Work Cited Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Viking, 1939. Print.
Cite this Grapes of Wrath Movie vs. Book
Grapes of Wrath Movie vs. Book. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/grapes-of-wrath-movie-vs-book/