from The Grapes of WraTh .steiNbeck stUdies articles Thomas harT BenTon’s depicTion of Jim casy.

and it is he who shall form the basis of this study. by amalgamating the portrayals of all four. however. it is The Grapes of Wrath’s Jim Casy in whom the imitatio Christi may most fully be discerned. on the other hand.“thAt’s him. despair and anger. These differing portrayals of Jesus are known as christologies. extent they provide us with four different Christs. significant. emphasizes Jesus’ divinity: his dignified aloofness. without its consolations. no doubt. 15 . and Juan Chicoy (The Wayward Bus) to name just three. Our disappointment that his plan was never realized is not. Mark. Jim Nolan (In Dubious Battle). his serene foreknowledge. Among Steinbeck’s characters. as well as fear. 1948. According to Steinbeck scholars Christlike figures pervade his literary output: Joseph Wayne (To a God Unknown). or. thAt shiny BAstArD. but to a certain. Steinbeck expresses his desire to do “one more film—the life of Christ from the four Gospels—adding and subtracting nothing. create a new christology of his very own. John.2 Had Steinbeck attempted to bring his wish to fruition he would have been faced with the decision of whether to adopt the christology of a particular evangelist.”: Jim CAsy AnD Christology steiNbeck stUdies by stePheN bUlliVaNt In a letter dated 19 november. depicts a very “human” Jesus—a Christ subject to pity and compassion. however. In neither event could he rightly be said to be “adding and subtracting nothing.” Steinbeck’s own take on the “greatest story ever told” would. have been an intensely interesting piece of work.”1 The task would have been a formidable one. for example. and it comes as no surprise that his wish was never fulfilled. Not only do the gospels provide us with four different (sometimes very different) lives of Christ.

6 In a neat piece of literary irony. one of whom (Connie) ends up “betraying” the group in pursuit of the “thirty pieces of silver” earned daily by the Oklahoma tractor drivers he wishes he had joined (on the reckoning that thirty silver dimes equals three dollars5). .3 literary critics have delighted in combing the novel for gospel allusions. As was mentioned above. but both become disillusioned with contemporary “piety. Casy himself seems vaguely aware of the parallels between them. thinkin’.34. In October 1938. underlies Jim Casy? In order to answer this question. has legions of angels at his disposal should he wish to escape (Mt 26.” fall foul of the authorities. The Grapes of Wrath. and die a martyr’s death for the supposed advancement of a greater good. but by itself leaves only a superficial understanding of Casy’s “christlike” nature. What christology.steiNbeck stUdies Ever since the “Christlike” depiction of Casy was noted by the more perceptive of the book’s early reviewers.7 and (in perhaps the most striking affinity between the two) he twice tells those about to kill him “You don’ know what you’re a-doin’” [401]. Not only (we are told) does Casy share Jesus Christ’s initials. perhaps.4 Furthermore. This—for the most part8—is all well and good. Jesus. .54). Steinbeck wrote to his agent to request that the music and lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” be published at the beginning of his new book. His funeral oration to Grampa recalls. almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to think His way out of a mess of troubles” [82-3].60). Casy sets out west with twelve of the Joads. then. His grace at Uncle’s John’s place begins “I been thinkin’. we are told. this study shall explore parallels between Jim Casy and depictions of similar Christlike figures (including some of Christ himself) in both antecedent and contemporary American literature. albeit in “Okie speech. The same applies to “Christlike” characters also. paraphrasing Jesus’ words of Lk 23. In so doing. a deliberate act. any attempt to depict Christ presupposes a commitment to a certain “christology”. we shall attempt to trace the “christological tradition” to which Casy belongs. and it is a death both might have avoided. that is to say.” Jesus’ command to “Let the dead bury their own dead” (Lk 9. I been in the hills. Casy (admittedly rather less well-equipped) is said to duck “down into the swing” (my italics) which kills him—suggesting. He explains his reasoning: 16 articles . a certain notion of the “Person” of Jesus.

when read in light of the novel it is the final verse of the song which seems most strikingly “pertinent”: In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea. let us die to make men free. They’re all pertinent and they’re all exciting.”). In interpreting Christian discipleship in terms of aligning oneself with the cause of temporal liberation. The title. will save it. The second line of the song (“He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored”) is echoed not just in the book’s title but also in the cautionary note at the end of chapter 25: “In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy. it is a frequent theme of the gospel writers). Mk 8. Battle Hymn of the Republic. With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As He died to make men holy. Against the pious poeticism of the rest of the stanza. and as you read the book you will realize that the words have a special meaning in this book. Or. . That one ought to follow Christ “even unto death” is not. The following February. .9 The “special meaning” alluded to is not difficult to divine.steiNbeck stUdies This is one of the great songs of the world. is. the concrete reality provides the basis for a new christological response. While God is marching on. an innovative suggestion (indeed. The christological tradition expressed by (if not. Pat. growing heavy for the vintage. in fact. . of course.” (363). not corporal liberation (e. in itself has a special meaning in the light of this book. to put it theologically. originating in) the “Battle Hymn” may be traced in other American literature right up to the time of Steinbeck’s writing 17 sthePeN bUlliVaNt .34b-35: “For those who want to save their life will lose it. and for the sake of the gospel. The first verse notwithstanding. who speaks of martyrdom as a means to personal salvation. the “Battle Hymn” adapts Jesus’ example to the contemporary situation. and those who lose their life for my sake. . the third line here is especially noteworthy. to print all all all the verses of the Battle Hymn.g. ”10 Such eagerness on the part of the author warrants a little attention. Steinbeck remained adamant that the whole song should be published as a frontispiece.” however. . Such a concept is wholly foreign to the gospel Jesus. That the purpose of so doing is “to make men free. He writes to his editor and life-long friend Pascal Covici: “I meant.

With suspicions that Hill was framed on account of his political activities. He was executed by firing squad on November 15. a local grocer.11 and—most significantly for our present purposes—two songs by Woody Guthrie. 1915.” Sarah Cleghorn’s “Comrade Jesus” published in 1938. him standing by my bed. was a prominent member and organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW. Of particular significance to the arguments of the present essay are stanzas four and five of the poem/song: 18 articles . and his son Arling were shot dead in a robbery by two men masked by red bandanas. controversy surrounds the trial and execution of Joe Hill to this day. His last words to his supporters are said to have been: “Don’t mourn for me. “They framed you on a murder charge. This notion of Christ as a liberator (depicted by Steinbeck in such political militants as Jim Casy and In Dubious Battle’s Jim Nolan) is represented in several works which we shall survey here: Alfred Hayes’ 1925 poem “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night. was found on the doctor’s steps with a bullet wound—one he claimed he’d suffered following an argument with a friend. Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.steiNbeck stUdies of The Grapes of Wrath (and beyond). He traveled widely with the IWW. Morrison. John G.” The poem was set to music in 1936 by Earl Robinson. and went on to achieve wide currency—most notably in the fifties and sixties in the repertoires of Paul Robeson. he was duly arrested and—refusing to testify at his own trial—was sentenced to death. Joe. or as they are perhaps better known. carrying a pistol. “the Wobblies”) whom he joined around 1910 whilst working as a docker in California. Although Hill vehemently denied his involvement.” Says Joe. Very much in this vein is Hayes’ 1925 poem “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night. “But I ain’t dead. On January 10. a Swedish born émigré.” says I to him.” Says Joe. Organize!” Despite the apparently strong case against him. a red bandana was found in his rooms.” the second stanza of which goes: “In Salt Lake. “Jesus Christ” (1940) and “Christ for President” (undated). That same evening Hill. and by early 1914 found himself in Salt Lake City. he was quickly revered as a martyr to the workers’ cause. Joe Hill. “But I ain’t dead.

not even to a single charge. and his last words to them are: “And remember. Quite how John conceives the role of the Spirit is a point of scholarly dispute.38b.g.steiNbeck stUdies sthePeN bUlliVaNt And standing there as big as life and smiling with his eyes. I am with you always.” (Mt 27. Lk 23. to the end of the age” (Mt 28. I am there among them” (Mt 18. he says.”12 Of course. but may instead be found wherever working men are organized to “defend their rights.13-5).20). where working-men defend their rights.” In the gospel of Matthew. Also relevant here are the Johannine discourses on the coming of the Holy Spirit which.13-14). it’s there you find Joe Hill. but as we saw with the 19 . Jn 19. Jesus tells his disciples “where two or three are gathered in my name. cf. [and] you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14.15-16). ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave no answer. Jesus makes no mention of working men defending their rights (as does Hayes’ Joe Hill).” The mention of him being “framed” calls to mind the gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin—which. but on a simple level it may be well to regard it as being “the presence of Jesus when Jesus is absent. It should also be mentioned that Hill’s silence at his trial (although not mentioned by Hayes) makes his story particularly conducive to “christologization”: “Pilate said to him. in fact. according to Luke and John at least. in every mine and mill. The strongest parallel between “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” and the gospel record is to be found in Hill’s declaration that he is not. will “be with you for ever” on the condition that “you love me. it’s there you find Joe Hill!” We need not look very far to find support for the claim that Joe Hill’s portrayal here is “Christlike. dead. went on to organize. says Joe “What they can never kill went on to organize.20). so that the governor was greatly amazed. “From San Diego up to Maine. was conducted after Pilate’s cross-examination had found “no case against him” (e.

Seems like I can see him sometimes. I’ll be ever’where— wherever you look. whom the Father will send in my name. . 20 articles . In “Joe Hill” (that is. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy. An’ when our folks eat the stuff raise an’ live in the houses they build—why. At Jn 14. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ when they know supper’s ready. the Joe Hill of the poem/song as opposed to what he might have been in reality) we have almost a prototype for Steinbeck’s Casy. who had been At mass meetings in Palestine.” [As a slight aside. I’ll be there. will teach you everything. Comes of thinkin’ about him so much.13 not to mention his alleged parallels to figures such as Moses14 and St Paul. and remind you of all that I have said to you. why. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat. . I’ll be there. we might well add the Holy Spirit of John’s gospel to the list. Both encourage the workers to “organize. Thanks to Saint Matthew. Sarah Cleghorn’s “Comrade Jesus” does precisely the opposite. although not (at least. Here it is Jesus himself who is the (unsurprisingly) “Christlike” labour leader. I’ll be there.” die a martyr’s death. (436) Much work has been done on the Christlike nature of Tom himself.] While Hayes’ “Joe Hill” takes a well-known political figure and “christologizes” him. We know whose side was spoken for When Comrade Jesus had the floor. I’m talkin’ like Casy. Tom Joad. and are depicted as “Christlike.” . not directly) this time in his portrayal of Casy. In light of the biblical passages we have been considering above. on the subject of Joe Hill’s promise to be wherever men fight for justice. it will be noted that the theme is also employed by Steinbeck. See? God. If Casy knowed. I’ll be aroun’ in the dark.26 Jesus tells his disciples: . . in his farewell speech to his mother. such a reinterpretation of Jesus’ words is a natural one (regardless of strict textual justification) in light of certain circumstances.steiNbeck stUdies “Battle Hymn” (and we shall see again in other texts).” Needless to say. this is precisely the role Tom takes upon himself with regard to the words of Jim Casy. the Holy Spirit. declares: .

steiNbeck stUdies This mention of Matthew is noteworthy. cold-shoulder me. in Steinbeck’s California “a red is any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty cents an hour when we’re payin’ twenty-five!” [309]).” This obvious allusion to Jesus’ own words of Lk 23. for it is on words recorded by him that Cleghorn primarily bases her christology. Among the great unwashed. The direct equation between Jesus and socialism embodied in the poem’s title is a bold one. I was in prison and you visited me. Cold-shoulder him. The tramp. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”17 Moreover. Indeed. “The most devoutly Christian of the Joads”15] could a heard. You’re helpin’ to starve kids. Nor is this the only link it is possible to make between “Christlike Casy” and Communist ideology. Where sore they toil and hard they lie. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was naked and you gave me clothing. according to some of the book’s earliest reviewers The Grapes of Wrath is nothing more than an odious. the convict. who comments “I wisht Granma [i.”16 (That said. for they do not know what they are doing”) is promptly answered with “Shut up.34 (“Father. you did it me”: For I was hungry and you gave me food. such an “unsympathetic” reading of the text finds a rather more modern proponent in the guise of Stephen Railton—he writes: 21 sthePeN bUlliVaNt . (Mt 25. she draws strongly on Mt 25.e. Just prior to his murder. Casy cries to the approaching vigilantes “You fellas don’ know what you’re doin’. Prefiguring the Latin American liberation theologians by almost three decades.” (401) The importance of this exchange is reiterated later in the text as Tom repeats it to Ma. I am he.35-6) This suggestion that Christ is to be identified—and in a sense more real than the purely figurative—with the poor and afflicted is paraphrased in the poem. forgive them. dwell I.31-46 and its claim that “whatever you did to the least of these my brothers. of course. I was sick and you took care of me. It also has its—rather subtler— parallels in The Grapes of Wrath. you red son-of-a-bitch.” Visser is correct when he comments that this is “a roundabout but unmistakable association” of being “red” “with Christ. lying piece of “Red Propaganda.

” Preacher Casey (as Guthrie—who probably never read the book23—consistently spells it) retains his role as the pivotal figure. There is the will of a people to endure and fight against oppression. and there is nothing sweet about the songs he sings. after having seen Ford’s The Grapes of the Wrath and finding it to be “best cussed pitcher I ever seen. R. the feeling was more than mutual. He is just a voice and a guitar. But there is something more important for those who will listen. He sings the songs of a people and I suspect he is.”22 In “Tom Joad. the most successful (Steinbeck aside) attempts to represent the kind of “liberation christology” we have been tracing occur in the work of Woody Guthrie.”21 Guthrie set about composing his own version of the Joads’ story. his guitar hanging like a tire iron on a rusty rim. Harsh-voiced and nasal. that people. Thousands of people do not know he has any other name. Preached about the rich and the poor.20 If Steinbeck admired Guthrie’s work. Guthrie’s précis of Casy’s ideology is striking both in its perceptiveness and its brevity: I preached for the Lord a mighty long time. it may be worth quoting Steinbeck’s own appraisal of Guthrie: Woody is just Woody. in a way.18 By far the most famous and. however. Stoneback. Indeed. The result was one of Guthrie’s more famous songs. and need not be repeated here. Instead. I think we call this the American Spirit. 22 articles .19 As something of a preamble to this section. The relationships (both personal and literary) between Guthrie and Steinbeck have been detailed at length by H. In 1940. the seventeen verse epic “Ballad of Tom Joad”—of which Steinbeck is reported to have said “Took me years to do Grapes of Wrath and that little squirt tells the whole story in just a few stanzas.steiNbeck stUdies “Large numbers of readers” could not be expected to endorse militant socialism. from an artistic perspective. Steinbeck shrewdly insinuates his revolutionary vision by presenting it [in the character of Jim Casy] in the familiar guise of Christianity. there is nothing sweet about Woody.

Casy’s character evidently made a strong impression on Guthrie. ‘Cause we ain’t got a chance any more. And he said. some strange man. Was that a vigilante man? It was in 1940 also that Guthrie penned yet another of his more famous songs. he features in another of his songs from that year. “Vigilante Man”: Preacher Casey was just a working man. “Unite.” The lyrics (of which there 23 .steiNbeck stUdies sthePeN bUlliVaNt dusT JackeT of The VikinG firsT ediTion of The Grapes of WraTh. We ain’t got a chance anymore. “Jesus Christ.” Killed him in the river. Us workin’ folks got to all get together. all you working men.

He said to the rich “Give your goods to the poor. Then a railroad scab.g. it is not too far a stretch of the imagination to speculate as to how far Casy may have influenced Guthrie’s Jesus. But they found that Frank and Jesse wouldn’t run. a preacher of economic equality.3) is introduced with the words: Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land. “Jesse James” (as so frequently in the “outlaw” genre. Now the railroad bullies come to chase them off their land. A hard working man and brave. So Jesse grabbed a big forty-four.” Guthrie’s own. Mk 6. one presumes was it intended to. the “statement” made by making Jesus its new subject (new wine into old wineskins?— cf. “Billy the Kid” and “Pretty Boy Floyd. he went and got a bomb. partially rewritten. liberation christology we have been considering. Moreover. And he throwed it at the door – And it killed Mrs.” But they laid Jesus Christ in His grave. With a silver-haired mother and a home. The eponymous hero of “Jesus Christ” is especially instructive to the present study. e.” not to mention the myriad songs about Robin Hood in the British tradition) is portrayed in the song as “a friend to the poor” who would “never see a man suffer pain.” This in itself is significant in light of the politicized. James a-sleeping in her bed. version of the song brings such elements to the fore with the addition of such verses as the ones below: They was living on a farm in the old Missouri hills. (We need not be overly concerned that the song was written marginally later than The Grapes of Wrath— both works attest to the same broad christological tradition. “Jesse James” was a popular song with a familiar melody.) Here “the carpenter” (cf. and a martyr at the 24 articles . The opening words emphasize the humanity of Christ. and the subsequent ones in turn cast him as an industrious migrant worker.22) can hardly have gone unnoticed. nor. Mk 2.steiNbeck stUdies are several variants) were set to a traditional tune in the Guthrie repertoire—the traditional outlaw ballad “Jesse James.

Moreover. In other (later?) versions. he went to the poor. the mystery is resolved. Guthrie emphasizes the social content of Jesus’ ministry: He went to the sick.14’s “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life.” (363): When the love of the poor shall one day turn to hate.” And so they laid Jesus Christ in His grave.17-22. When the patience of the workers gives away. Guthrie’s Jesus not only quotes Mt 11. however. Said that the poor would one day win this world.steiNbeck stUdies hands of a shadowy “they. / The rich can scarce get through at all” (which seems to draw both on the passage mentioned above and Mt 7. but also threatens in verse eight what. and there are few who find it.” So they laid Jesus Christ in His grave. “What must I do to be saved?” “You must take all your goods and give it to the poor. might be put as “the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy.” A more Casylike Christ it would be hard to imagine.” the blame 25 sthePeN bUlliVaNt . Similarly.34 (“I come not to bring you peace. receives a fuller expression in the sixth stanza: One day Jesus stopped at a rich man’s door.”) The idea of Jesus making “a preferential option for the poor” is a popular one in the texts we have been considering. in Steinbeck’s parlance. It is perhaps worth remarking here on the similarity between this verse and a couplet in Cleghorn’s “Comrade Jesus”: “The kingdom’s gate is low and small. Aided and abetted by “a dirty little coward named Judas Iscariot. but a sword”) in verse three. And so they laid Jesus Christ in His grave. “Would be better for you rich if you never had been born. growing heavy for the vintage. In the original version of the song quite who this “they” who “laid Jesus Christ in his grave” are remains obscure. And he went to the hungry and the lame.” recalling Mk 10. Jesus’ command to the rich to give their “goods to the poor.

They’d lock Him back in jail as sure as you’re reading this. In the archives of the Woody Guthrie Foundation. written for an anthology of his entitled Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People: I wrote this song looking out of a rooming house window in New York City in the winter of 1940. neither this manuscript nor the typed copies with it are dated. and I got to thinking about what Jesus said and what if He was to walk into New York City and preach like He used to. As far as Guthrie is concerned.” “the cops and the soldiers. cops. you have done it to me. of course. “Even as you’ve done it unto the least of these little ones.”24 “Jesus Christ” is not Guthrie’s only song evincing a christology of the kind with which we are concerned. more sadly. Again. I saw how the poor folks lived and then I saw how the rich folks lived and the poor folks down and out and cold and hungry. is a manuscript entitled “Christ for President. “the landlord and the soldiers that he hired. Helpfully.e. precisely those doing to the Okies now what was done to Jesus two thousand years before.” Sadly. Of rich man. New York. They would lay Jesus Christ in His grave. and the rich ones out drinking good whiskey and celebrating and wasting handfulls of money at gambling and women. Jesus’ blue-collar credentials are stressed—most 26 articles . no tune for the song survives. the bankers. preachers.” and finally. preacher and slave.steiNbeck stUdies for killing Jesus is lain at the doors of—in turn—“the bankers and the preachers. on this theme he provides his own commentary on the song. soldiers and landlords are still very much at large. The song—in all its versions—concludes with a verse making it quite plain (as if it was not already!) that Guthrie does not just have in mind past events: This song was written in New York City.” It is interesting to compare these groups with those groups in The Grapes of Wrath who conspire against the migrant workers—i. But if Jesus was to preach like He preached in Galilee.

for example. he puts Christ’s example up as a mirror against which to judge contemporary piety and politics (as indeed do the gospel writers). And we shoot it down with wars. the self-confessed “lamb’-blood Christian” Lisbeth Sandry and the preachers she so admires: “Went to a meetin’ in Weedpatch las’ night. Here Guthrie’s proposed solution would ensure “a job and a pension for young and old” and a reversal of the current situation in which: Every year we waste enough. a hallmark of Guthrie’s output (not that he is averse to giving credit where credit’s due. “Christlike Casy” could scarcely be more at variance with. 1960). 1963’s “Dear Mrs Roosevelt”).steiNbeck stUdies notably with him being referred to as “the carpenter” at several points during the song. 1997).’ He says. Steinbeck employs a similar device. of course. as here: The only way we could ever beat These crooked politician men. ‘The poor is tryin’ to be rich. Jackson Browne (“Rebel Jesus”. As a postscript to this section it is worth noting that the kind of christology with which we have concerned ourselves does not end with the work of Guthrie and Steinbeck. 1991). the reader’s full understanding of this brand of “Christianity” comes from hints and asides which occur frequently throughout the rest of the book. Fulminating against corrupt politicians is. Aside from several hints at the beginning. We build our civilization up. of course. and Steve Earle (“Christmas in Washington”. It remains a frequent theme in the folk tradition. Guthrie’s modest proposal is not. as represented by songs from artists so diverse as Ewan MacColl (“The Ballad of the Carpenter”. Is to cast the money changers out of the temple. From the outset of the novel Casy is portrayed as one who has rejected popular religious practice. Know what the preacher says? He says. cf. Rather. ‘They’s wicketness in that camp. Put the carpenter in.’” (332). To feed the ones who starve. This latter song 27 sthePeN bUlliVaNt . wholly serious.

a fruitful exercise—but it is scarcely exhaustive.” This has now. however. a wholly new one. the sort depicted in Guthrie’s “Jesus Christ. it is true. And rise again somehow. as (surely) he also does in characterizing this christology as merely presenting “in the last analysis a kind of melodramatic. Maybe he can help you out. I hope.e. Hayes and Guthrie—and beyond. is such a Christ figure in this novel. What I have tried to do in this essay is to establish Casy’s position in a christological tradition. Come back to us now. the quest for literary antecedents and parallels for Steinbeck’s portrayal of Casy has largely been confined to trawling through the gospels. Already in the 1960s Edwin Moseley noted parallels between Casy and a particular sort of “Christ figure of the ’thirties”—i. as stated at the close of the introduction. This is. errs in suggesting such a narrow time-frame. Come back Woody Guthrie to us now. Jim Casy. Hitherto. ___________________ The purpose of this study. came as a herald of a new consciousness. as a leader of the oppressed masses. and as a sacrificial figure whose death would offer man a new beginning and a second chance. hero who represents the potential goodness in man.26 28 . with his eye-catching initials. it must be remembered.” Moseley. largely been achieved. a tradition stretching from the evangelists themselves. no doubt. to writers such as Cleghorn. This realization is not.”25 Far nearer the mark was Louis Owens. writing in 1989: Christ. if moving. via the battlefields of the Civil War. Tear your eyes from paradise.steiNbeck stUdies articles is of particular interest—suggesting as it does Jesus’ return as a side-kick to Woody Guthrie: So come back Woody Guthrie. was to “attempt to trace the ‘christological tradition’ to which Jim Casy belongs. If you run into Jesus.

).” in Heavilin.” The phrase which they do in fact recall (Lk 23. 2 Christology being. & S. Rahner & H. Vorgrimler. 19 November. remarks on Casy’s transformation into “a Christ-like labour leader. Charles Lee makes fleeting reference to “Christ-like Casy” in “The Grapes of Wrath: The Tragedy of the American Sharecropper. Steinbeck & R. 1996) 166-7. ed. 247-67.. John Steinbeck: The Contemporary Reviews [hereafter TCR] (Cambridge: Cambridge UP. “The Grapes of Wrath. 1983) 70.14-16). H.” Boston Herald (22 April 1939. for example. 3 Malcolm Cowley. 4 An interpretation suggested (tentatively) by C. A. Concise Theological Dictionary (Burns & Oates. 71-86. although according to John the Twelve did include two men named Judas (see Jn 14. 2000) 47-9. Fontenrose. R. in the words of eminent Catholic theologian Karl Rahner: “That part of theology which deals with Jesus Christ. the attempt to wrest meaning from the fact that among the twelve Joads are two men named Thomas (cf. . however. 82. 7). The synoptists concur on there being only one Thomas among Jesus’ entourage (Mt 10. Wallstan (eds.34) is not. CT: Greenwood Press. 82-3). 29 . S. Heavilin. ” See K. at 343. A. p.16-19. Lk 6. Crisler.” See “American Tragedy. Jesus’ last—cf. 8 For example. Sec. 2001) 341-44. The Novels of John Steinbeck (Columbia : University of Missouri Press. The Critical Response to John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath [hereafter Heavilin] (Westport.. Fontenrose.” New Republic 98 (3 May 1939): 382-3 (reprinted in J. McElrath. Mk 3. Pacific Grove. J.steiNbeck stUdies notes 1 sthePeN bUlliVaNt To Bo Beskow. John Steinbeck: A Life in Letters [hereafter SLL] (New York: Penguin. at 82.2-4.” in Heavilin. Similarly.). at 257). . and in a strict sense with his Person.22). printed in B. Also. All Biblical quotations (excepting those quoted from other authors) are from the NRSV translation. at 47). 1948—reprinted in E. 5 6 7 J. or Rose of Sharon Meets Oedipa Maas. Levant. both Levant and Visser remark on how Casy accepts his martyrdom “with a phrase that recalls Christ’s last words. Page references (given in square brackets) are to the 1967 Viking edition of The Grapes of Wrath. Shillinglaw (eds. Kocela (“A Postmodern Steinbeck. Ibid.

12 R. Section 1. 128. Noble (ed.” Collier’s 104. . The claim. Brown. pp. 30 . “Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath Branded as Red Propaganda by Father A. New Essays on The Grapes of Wrath (New York: Cambridge UP. Los Gatos. D. SLL. E.” San Francisco Examiner. 21 Sez (New York: Grosset & Dunlap. Shillinglaw & J. 16 17 Visser. Spearman. 20 In S. L. 2002) 225-6. 1972) 44. Benson (eds. 171). 1979). reprinted in SLL. but I saw the movie. Stoneback. 174-5). 4 June 1939. it seems. at 38. The book is now. It is not certain when the poem was written. difficult to find. however. 13 Promised Land (New York: Twayne 1989) 41. 201-19. 103. It was. 14 15 Wyatt (ed. p. Woody Guthrie and Me (Berkeley. N. edited by Selden Rodman.Y. D. 2 September 1939. “No. Visser.: Whitston Pub. The Steinbeck Question (Troy. Owens. Robbin. Spearman.). Railton. Fontenrose.” in D. p. R. does not go uncontested—cf. 53 (TCR.” in Heavilin. p. at 146. CA : (London: Allen Lane. see also “Grapes of Wrath. p. Seeger. 12 (reprinted in TCR. 209.). and Folksong.. “The Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel. Of Men and Their Making In one of his columns for People’s World—helpfully reprinted in Woody Reported in E. Studies 13 (1966-7). Good movie”” —see P. John Steinbeck. N. 158-9. The Grapes of Wrath: Trouble in the Fontenrose. 9 To Elizabeth Otis. 23 Pete Seeger recalls a conversation he had with Guthrie: “I asked him if he had read the book and he said.). p. 1938. 1990) 27-46. J. p.g. 22 Lancaster-Miller Publishers. at 209. pp.” New Testament E. 18 19 Railton. R. Co. “Pilgrims’ Politics: Steinbeck’s Art of Conversion. . S. “Audience and Closure in The Grapes of Wrath. 40. 1975) 133. 80-1. p. p. 173. A. 84. pp. New York: Simon and Schuster. Stoneback.steiNbeck stUdies articles 1974). H. 175. The Incompleat Folksinger. however. 1993) 143-70.” in D. published 10 11 as part of a 1938 collection entitled A New Anthology of Modern Poetry. “Rough People. Are the Best Singers: Woody Guthrie. p.

). Lomax & P. Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People. sthePeN bUlliVaNt Oak Publications 1967. Stephen bullIvant is a doctoral student in Theology at Oxford University. 25 A Casebook on “The Grapes of Wrath” (New York: Crowell. E. Seeger (eds. 40. 31 .). “Christ as the Brother of Man.” in A. 1968) at 216-17. Moseley. Aside from his current research (the salvation of atheists in modern Catholic theology) he is particularly interested in the works of Steinbeck. M. Hemingway and Dostoevsky. p. 26 stUdies 24 A. Donohue (ed. He can be contacted at: chch. Owens.