© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath


by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath Theme of Betrayal

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

In the face of loss and poverty, the Joads band together to survive and make do. Thousands of other similarly heartbroken families in The Grapes of Wrath also recognize the power of community.

However, there are several characters who, overcome by fear, choose to serve themselves rather than their community at large. Willy Feeley, an old family friend of the Joads, accepts a job working for the landowners and helps to drive many sharecropping families away.

Questions About Betrayal

  1. Does Muley Graves betray his family by not following them to California?
  2. Does Willy Feeley betray his community by accepting a job as a tractor driver, or is he merely supporting his family?
  3. What kinds of betrayal do we see in The Grapes of Wrath?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Betrayal becomes the only means of survival in The Grapes of Wrath.

To betray is to become less human in the world of this novel.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...