Almost all writers, for many centuries, have acquired their very own unique style of writing literature; this style is the approach an author takes to address the subject matter and the theme of a narrative; as a result, it adds power to a piece of literature. One possible way to add this power is to use figures of speech; it not only gets the message across but it also entertains the readers. Other types of narrative technique include the following: structure of the narrative, diction, tone, symbolism, and imagery. There are many great examples of fiction that use these techniques to convey its message, and at the same time they are quite enjoyable and compelling to read. Some of these techniques are used by John Steinbeck in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, which focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, who are driven away from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. Steinbeck adds power to the theme of the novel by his effective use of metaphors, bold imagery, and journal-like historical entries.
In chapter three, Steinbeck describes a turtle trying to cross a highway and he provides a rather vast amount of detail. The turtle makes his way gradually “turning aside for nothing;” it stubbornly climbs the embankment of the highway which shows the amount of arduousness and the marvellous effort put in by the turtle as described by Steinbeck. While crossing the highway, the turtle crushes an ant; likewise, it almost gets crushed by a car itself. The following passage enlightens the turtle’s desolation as well as Steinbeck’s style:
And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, the driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it. His front wheel struck the edge of the shell, flipped the turtle like a tiddly-wink, spun it like a coin, and rolled it off the highway. The truck went back to its course along the right side. Lying on its back, the turtle was tight in its shell for a long time. But at last its legs waved in the air, reaching for something to pull it over. Its front foot caught a piece of quartz and little by little the shell pulled over and flopped upright. The wild oat head fell out and three of the spearhead seeds stuck in the ground. And as the turtle crawled on down the embankment, its shell dragged dirt over the seeds. (17)
It is extremely evident that Steinbeck used a great amount of detail in this description. A truck is going down the highway and its front wheel struck the turtle which sends it spinning off the highway “like a coin” and it lands on its back. Undeterred, the turtle tries to get back on its feet and resumes its slow journey again. As the turtle moves, clump of oats fall out of its shell and the turtle inadvertently buries it because its large shell drags soil over the oats. This turtle is similar to the migrants in many ways.
The description of the turtle in this chapter is a metaphor that foreshadows the hardships endured by the migrants. Very similar to the migrants from Oklahoma, the turtle faces the hostile world but it is persistent and learns to overcome all of its hardships and finally completes its journey. Later on in the novel we learn that the migrants face many challenges as well ranging from economic hardships to family despair and they too will learn to overcome these challenges. Steinbeck uses a few more animal references as metaphors towards the middle of the novel and it really gets the readers’ attention to this aspect of the novel.