The Grapes of Wrath

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Animals Symbol Icon
Animals often embody the same important character traits that are valued in humans, and people’s treatment of animals is often used to illustrate human capacity for both kindness and arbitrary cruelty. For example, the intrepid land turtle that appears in chapter three represents the unyielding resolve that the migrants display when traveling to California. Like the Okies, the turtle is shown both kindness and malice by humans: some swerve to avoid it on the road while others swerve to hit it. Additionally, Tom’s moral maturation is shown through his treatment of animals. Early in the story, he goes out of his way to kill a rattlesnake on the road, but later on, he reprimands Al for swerving to hit a gopher snake.
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Animals Symbol Timeline in The Grapes of Wrath

The timeline below shows where the symbol Animals appears in The Grapes of Wrath. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
A turtle moves slowly across a run-down highway, struggling to climb a steep embankment. As it works... (full context)
Chapter 26
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...man who offers them work picking peaches nearby. On the way to the worksite, Al deliberately runs over a gopher snake , and Tom reprimands him. (full context)