Study Guide

The Grapes of Wrath Criminality

By John Steinbeck


(Click the themes infographic to download.)

By virtue of the fact that Tom Joad is on parole and cannot leave the state of Oklahoma, the Joads are constantly aware of the law and of trying to adhere to the law. Much of The Grapes of Wrath deals with families who are treated poorly by the law, whether in their hometown or in their California towns. We begin to question the validity and the value of the law as we watch the Joad family, and many other families like them, fight tooth and nail to survive.

Questions About Criminality

  1. Who commits a crime in this novel, and how are they punished?
  2. How is crime defined in The Grapes of Wrath?
  3. Who is "dangerous" in this novel?
  4. What is prison like?

Chew on This

The Law prevents survival in the world of The Grapes of Wrath.

Without self-imposed laws, the migrant families would not be able to co-exist or survive.