by Joni Abilene
The other day I was thinking about The Grapes of Wrath and that whole butchering scene at the start of the book after Tom comes home from prison. Upon first reading it the scene held little significance other than being a celebration, but now I’ve come to realize it has a deeper, and more sinister relevance to the entire novel. When they section off the pig’s carcass and Ma gets to work salting, preserving, seasoning, parboiling, cooking and packing, what she’s really doing is foreshadowing the journey yet to come and how some parts of the trip will be well-salted and palpable, and some left to turn rotten. Their lives will be compartmentalized, one by one; some to die, and some to leave. She’s doing her best to prepare events to withstand whatever the weather, but the truth is, we cannot foretell anything in life. Ma is the strongest person in the entire family, because she does understand this, I think. By the end of the book she has proven to be the only one who could shoulder life’s events square on. Even Tom, with his heartbreaking philosophy learned from failed rebellion, still has yet to learn. His musings are dreamlike, yet sad. We all know what happens to the underdog, the fool. It’s never good. And yes, Ma knows this too. She’s strong enough to allow Tom his musings and escape into his own peril.
That’s all. It’s just something I thought about, and probably some else thought of it before me. Thanks for reading.