The great mother in grapes of wrath
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The Great Mother in Grapes of Wrath. Henderson.

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Presentation Transcript

The final scene

“For minute Rose of Sharon sat still in the whispering barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the comfort around her…Her hand moved behind his head and supported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.”

  • Evocative of both The Pieta and Madonna and Child imagery

  • Goes way deeper – and way older – than, as C.S. Lewis might say, “mere Christianity”

The final scene


Michelangelo s pieta
Michelangelo’s Pieta barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the comfort around her…Her hand moved behind his head and supported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.”


Duccio s madonna and child
Duccio’s barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the comfort around her…Her hand moved behind his head and supported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.” Madonna and Child


The incident of the earth mother feeding by the breast is older than literature
“The incident of the Earth Mother feeding by the breast is older than literature.”

~ John Steinbeck


Earth goddess great mother

  • Pagan cultures identify with the earth older than literature.”

  • “Feminine principle focuses on seasonal cycles of birth, growth, death, and renewal

  • The fecundity and compassion of the earth goddess manifest her as a maternal figure

  • Physical & spiritual sustenance

Earth Goddess/ Great Mother


The archetypal feminine

WOMAN = BODY = VESSEL = WORLD older than literature.”

The archetypal feminine


Minoan snake goddess

Minoan Snake Goddess


Three ages of the great mother

Three ages of the Great Mother


Echoes elsewhere

Echoes elsewhere


Application to angry grapes

  • In and mythologyThe Grapes of Wrath, the Great Mother manifests herself both in the positive and negative aspects of nature:

    • Soft sunlight/scourging drought

    • Gentle rain/destructive flood

    • Food and shelter/famine and deprivation

Application to Angry Grapes


Womb to tomb

WOMB to TOMB


I am the resurrection and the life

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.”


More motifs to consider

  • Cyclical = primitive, matriarchal life Great Mother’s life-giving quality.

  • Linear = modern, patriarchal life

  • Religious ecstasy is akin to sexuality

  • The stick – masculinity, utility, aggression

  • The river = femininity, flowing, sustaining, continuity, perpetuity

  • The FINAL SCENE embodies the Bible’s 3 main symbols of PURIFIED ORDER:

    • Old Testament deluge

    • New Testament stable

    • Continuing ritual of communion

More motifs to consider