The Grapes of Wrath Discussion Questions

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

This lesson provides discussion questions that can be used to help your students analyze the trials and issues portrayed in ''The Grapes of Wrath''. It also includes a few questions to help you gauge your students' opinions of this story.

The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath is a fictional story about the real issues that California migrant workers experienced during the Great Depression. This novel addresses oppression, death, hard labor, starvation, human rights, and other significant issues.

Since The Grapes of Wrath was written in the 1930s, some students may struggle to relate to the characters or setting. Discussion questions will help you engage these students and get them talking about different topics in this story.

Discussion Questions on Feelings

The best way to start a novel discussion is to open with questions that focus on the feelings student have about different aspects of the story. There are no right or wrong answers to these sorts of questions, which can make it easier for students to speak up.

  • The Grapes of Wrath was considered one of Steinbeck's best works. How did you feel about the story? Why?
  • Why do you think people wanted to ban this book when it was published? If it was written today, would people still want to ban it?
  • How did you feel about the characters? Was there a specific character you found to be more relatable? Which one? Why?
  • Which trial did you think was the worst for the Joads? Why?
  • What did you think about the ending of The Grapes of Wrath?
  • What did you think about Rose of Sharon's act of breastfeeding the old man?
  • Do you think the Joads made the right choice to travel to California? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions on Symbolism

There is a lot of religious and non-religious symbolism in The Grapes of Wrath. Discussing this symbolism will help students gain a deeper understanding of the story.

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