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Page Number______

Section 3: Unit 1 Economics

Mrs. Kearney
AP English Language and Composition
Date ________________________________

Socratic Seminar Questions for East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath
Instructions: With your groups identify five questions you will prepare to discuss in tomorrows
Socratic Seminar. Consider the novel you read, the film you watched, and the short Steinbeck
work you read. You do not all have to agree on the questions you will prepare to discuss;
however, you should spend time in your small group discussing the questions from various
Objective: Your goal will be to determine a claim about Steinbecks work and find textual
evidence to support your claim.

How are symbols used?

How do we feel about characters, and why?
How do characters interact? How do they compare/contrast?
What theme(s) are embraced in the reading?
What is setting used?
How are Biblical allusions applied?
Select a compelling quotation to discuss. What commentary is being proffered in this
What is the effect of point of view in the novel? How and why does it shift?
Why does Steinbeck say that we have only one story that is built upon the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil (543). In what ways do the other readings
from this unit prove or disprove Steinbecks assertion?

Definition of America/Historical biographical:

How would Steinbeck define America? The American Dream?

What does the author add to the ongoing conversation/definition of America?
In a historical sense in The Grapes of Wrath, is the rise of corporate capitalism good, evil
or neither, just an inevitable evolution of a free market system that seeks to maximize

profits and hopefully create a better standard of living for the majority of Americans
while some are left behind? What does Steinbeck appear to be suggesting?
How does the motif of inheritance and fortune in East of Eden reflect the economic
landscape of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries? What is Steinbeck saying
about America in relationship of the sons successes to the fathers failures? What do the
Hamiltons and the Trasks represent?


Pay attention to the type of language used in any given chapter. Is it formal or informal?
Are any words repeated, and, if yes, to what effect?

How are women viewed by the male characters? by the author?
What roles do women play?
Are their passages where women talk to each other? About something other than men?
Why or why not?

What elements are phallic, and which yonic?

Are masculine/feminine elements positive? negative?
Is Mother Nature a positive force, or a negative one?
According to Jung we are all on a journey (or can be) towards individuation, we have to
reconcile our shadow self with our persona and come to terms with a valid identity that is
real for us in a complex world.
o In Grapes the characters are faced with a fundamental societal shift from an
agrarian, small farm, tenant/landlord identity to one with corporate farms,
technology replacing much of the traditional labor force and work determined by
technocrats concerned with the bottom line and a system that tries to maximize
productivity while lowering costs, in short the modern capitalist system. Do the
Joads succeed in forming a new identify that works in their new world? If so what
is that identity and how odes is serve the self?
o In Eden we see the next generation abandoning the ideals of the previous
generations commitment to the land. Does Adam succeed in forming a new
identity? Cathy? Cal?


What political or social statement is the author making, and is he making them directly or
What political and social ramifications does Steinbeck forebode? What warnings are
given/promises made, and through what means?

Who has power, and who does not?

What creates power? What leeches it?
What ideology does Tom Joad embrace? Jim Casy? Ma Joad? What ideology does Adam
embrace? Cathy? Cal? Aron? Mr. Hamilton?