Grapes Of Wrath

The novel tells of real, diverse characters who experience growth through
turmoil and hardship. Jim Casy- a personal favorite character- is an ex-preacher
that meets up with a former worshiper, Tom Joad. Casy continues a relationship
with Tom and the rest of the Joads as they embark on a journey to California in
the hopes of prosperity and possibly excess. Casy represents how the many
situations in life impact the ever-changing souls of human- beings and the
search within to discover one’s true identity and beliefs. Casy, however, was
much more complex than the average individual. His unpredjudiced, unified,
Christ-like existence twists and turns with every mental and extraneous
disaccord. Jim Casy is an interesting, complicated man. He can be seen as a
modern day Christ figure, except without the tending manifest belief in the
Christian faith. The initials of his name, J.C., are the same as Jesus Christ.

Just as Jesus was exalted by many for what he stood for was supposed to be ,
Casy was hailed and respected by many for simply being a preacher. Casy and
Jesus both saw a common goodness in the average man and saw every person as
holy. Both Christ and Casy faced struggles between their ideals versus the real
world. (Despite Casy’s honesty, goodness, and loyalty to all men, he would not
earn a meal or warm place to stay. Although Jesus had many followers, still
others opposed his preaching until the very end. ) These prophets attempted to
disengage man from the cares of the world and create a high spiritualism that
stemmed joy from misery. (All the migrants found pleasures along their trips and
kept their hope and spirit throughout the journey. Thanks to Jesus, the saddest,
dullest existence has had its glimpse of heaven.) Casy once remarked, “I
gotta see them folks that’s gone out on the road. I gotta feelin’ I got to see
them. They gonna need help no preachin’ can give ’em. Hope of heaven when their
lives ain’t lived? Holy Sperit when their own sperit is downcast an’ sad?”
Casy wished to reach out to others in spite of his own troubles. He wanted to
give them sprit, hope and rejuvenate their souls. Jesus too felt that need and
can be considered “the great consoler of life.” The Life of Jesus by
Ernest Renan tells of Pure Ebionism, which is the doctrine that the poor alone
shall be saved and the reign of the poor is approaching. This secures a definite
parallel to Jesus Christ and not only Jim Casy, but the entire book, The Grapes
of Wrath. The rich people, banks, owners, and institutions have taken control of
the country and nature, but as the book says, “And the association of
owners knew that some day the praying would stop. And there’s an end.” This
means that these people will always carry on, one day they will take action,
there will be a fight, and quite possibly an end to the misfortune and a reign
of prevailing prosperity. Christ once said, “When thou makest a dinner or
supper, call not…thy rich neighbors…But when thou makest a feast, call the
poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed.” John
Steinbeck and Jim Casy along with many other migrants believe in charity,
helping others and an end to the insatiable appetite for money and
self-indulgence. When Casy is saying grace in chapter eight, he compares himself
to Jesus: “I been in the hills, thinkin’, almost you might say like Jesus
wen into the wilderness to think His way out of troubles.” Casy was
beginning to feel confused, troubled and stressful about his faith, but when he
went into the wilderness and rediscovered nature, he was a new man with a
new-found faith. (Eventually Christ was no longer a Jew and strayed from the
traditional Hebrew idea of God. Casy’s beliefs did not precisely follow
Christianity.) Like Christ, Casy was jailed and later aroused the antagonism of
the people in authority and was brutally slain. He died, like Christ saying to
his crucifiers, “You don’ know what you’re a-doin.” Jim Casy was
similar to Jesus Christ but his personality traits did not end there. Jim Casy’s
personality is one of the most unprovincial, nonjudgemental in the world. He
believed that every one is created equal no matter what their physical
differences, political class, or position in the world might be. He shows this
by never uttering a hurtful word at anyone, sacrificing his own welfare to
picket and raise the wages of other workers, and not faltering when he or his
groupmates were called derogatory names. Jim Casy was forever grateful to the
Joads for travelling with him and talked of going off by himself to pay them
back several times. He once said, “I wanna do what’s bes’ for you folks.

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You took me in, carried me along. I’ll do whatever.” Casy never asked for
money while he was preaching because he knew the position his listeners were in,
even though he was also desperate for money. Casy said in chapter four, “I
brang Jesus to your folks for a long time, an’ I never took up a collection nor
nothin’ but a bite to eat.” Since Casy believes that we all have a small
part of a larger soul, and everybody is holy, we are therefor equal. As Tom
said, “one time he went out in the wilderness to find his soul, an’ he foun’
he jus’ got a little piece of a great big soul.” Once and for all stating
equality, and universal holiness. Casy is also a harmonious man. He believes in
unity and that because people are all part of something greater than themselves,
we should help one another out, and work together because otherwise we are all
lost. “Why do we got to hang it all on God or Jesus? Maybe,’ I figgered,
‘maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love: maybe that’s the Holy Sperit- the
human sperit- the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a
part of.” He thinks that people working in cooperation is holy: “When
they’re all workin’ together, not one fella for another fell, but one fella kind
of harnessed to the whole shebang — that’s right, that’s holy”(pg 71). Tom
once said Casy recited to him Ecclesiates 4: “Two are better than one;
because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will
lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath
not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but
how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand
him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. Tom Joad also said,
“maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a
piece of a big one. … I’ll be ever’wherewherever you look.” Casy was a
Christ-like, unprovincial, and harmonious man albeit he still had personal
conflicts. Although Jim Casy has always seemingly been a man of God and Jesus,
he battles with his faith throughout The Grapes of Wrath. He feels like he is
contending with the very ideals he has spread to others- traditional ideals of
God and Jesus. Casy started to question his own beliefs and what was said in the
Bible. Casy lost many hours of sleep just thinking about this, and went through
many days without even speaking. He began to have doubts about God, Jesus, and
about the afterlife altogether. He went from a man of God to a man of everyone.

Casy once said,”An I says, ‘Don’t you love Jesus?’ Well, I thought an’
thought an’ finally I says, ‘No, I don’t know nobody name’ Jesus. I know a bunch
of stories, but I only love people.’ ” After Casy challenged his inner
belief of God and Jesus, he began to openly accept and tolerate unorthodox
behavior. In fact some of Casy’s new beliefs not only questioned the basic
belief in God and Jesus, but also the content of the Bible and what a regular
preacher (or ex-preacher) would say or do. Casy felt you should not judge anyone
but yourself, where as the Bible openly condemns certain situations, labels,
sexual orient, behavior, and practices. Casy believes you should do what you
feel and doesn’t believe in right or wrong. Casy once said, “I didn’ even
know it when I was preachin’, but I was doin’ some consid’able tom-cattin’
around.” He told of times when he lacked responsibility, filled girls up
with the Holy Spirit by his preachings and then continually took them out with
him to “lay in the grass.” He once said, “There ain’t no sin and
there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same
thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that’s
as far as any man got a right to say.” A hedonistic moral code that tells
of pleasure before rules and presumes to deny punishment is highly unusual for a
one-time preacher. Casy struggled with his personal inner faith, and also his
actions and speeches that defied what a regular man of the faith would do. The
inner being of Jim Casy was evolving and furthermore conflicting when he
metamorphisized from a man of thought to a man of action. Towards the beginning
of the book, Casy spent many a night sleep- deprived and many a day mute
philosophizing to himself. “Say, Casy, you been awful goddamn quiet the las’
few days…you ain’t said ten words the las’ couple days, ” Tom said. Even
Casy himself had trouble speaking at all: “Now look, Tom. Oh what the hell!
So goddamn hard to say anything.” He remarked early on in the book,
“There’s stuff goin’ on an’ they’s folks doin’ things…An’ if ya listen,
you’ll hear…res’lessness. They’s stuff goin’ on that these folks is doin’ that
don’t know nothin’ about- yet. They’s gonna come somepin outa all these folks
goin’ wes’…They’s gonna come a thing that’s gonna change the whole
country.” Later in the book Casy stops predicting “a thing” and
takes part of this revolution by striking outside a peach-picking plant. He had
spent a lot of time pondering the environment at hand, but he finally turns his
anti- authority feelings into physical actions when he kicks a cop causing
trouble in Hooverville. Casy later goes on to spontaneously take the blame for
the fight and was sent to jail, sacrificing his own well-being for others. On
top of Casy’s struggles with himself, he also faced exterior conflicts with the
rest of the world. Jim Casy came across conflicts between himself and the rest
of society. He attempted to organize the migrants but saw great difficulty.

After Casy was let out of jail he (and other wise men) picketed outside a
peach-picking camp for higher wages. Although he managed to organize those few
men, and kept the wages at a reasonable price while on strike, he could not
persuade the others inside the workplace to join him. “Tell ’em the people
who are picking peaches they’re starvin’ us an’ stabbin’ theirselves in the
back. ‘Cause sure as cowflops she’ll drop to two an’ a half jus’ as soon as they
clear us out,” Casy said referring to the fact that unless the people in
the camp did something- like went on strike- they would ‘stab themselves in the
back’ because the wages would go back down. However, the people in the camp only
cared about the five they were making at the time and nothing else. Casy’s
attempts at organizing failed not only because the people cared specifically for
what was happening at the present time, but also because they were afraid to
organize. As soon as there is a recognized leader cops throw him in jail or
threaten him. People put the migrants down and used derogatory terms to attempt
to control them. Society wanted to keep the migrants moving, leaving it
impossible for them to organize. There was once a man who started to unite the
people in jail. Later the very people he was trying to help threw him out,
afraid of being seen in his company. His attempts at uniting fail eternally when
he tells a cop he is starving children and the cop smashes his skull with a
board. Jim Casy encounters more external difficulties when he crosses paths with
cops. In chapter 20, Floyd, John, Tom and Casy have a physical fight with a
deputy. In an unrelated incident, an officer threatened to set fire to the camp
Casy’s friends were staying at. When Casy was trying to organize some men, cops
were continually breaking them down. “We tried to camp together, an’ they
cops druv us like pigs. Scattered us. Beat the hell outa fellas. Druv us like
pigs…We can’t las’ much longer. Some people ain’t et for two days,”said
Casy. “Cops cause more trouble than they stop,” Casy also mentioned.

Thus is a man who has seen animosity and enmity and has not been afraid. In
conclusion, Jim Casy is a rather Christ-like, harmonious, unprovincial, somewhat
realistic charcter who has seen the challenges of organization, authority, his
own faith, reception from others, and his own ever- changing personality. This
man can be looked at as a martyr, ethical, sacred individual, and yet ironically
“Okie”, hobo, or virtue-less bum. However The Grapes of Wrath and Jim
Casy are undisputed symbols of hope, dreams, spirit and the oneness of all
humanity. To me personally, Jim Casy is a role-model to any one who aspires to
think original thoughts. I find his defiance of organized religion
thought-provoking and inspiring. His ideas of nature are prophetic and his
selfless love of people beautiful. Jim Casy’s essence of understanding, dreams,
love, hope and belief in an almighty holiness can be summed up in one quote,
“An’ Almighty God never raised no wages. These here folks want to live
decent and bring up their kids decent. An’ when they’re old they wanta set in
the door an’ watch the downing sun. An’ when they’re young they wanta dance an’
sing an’ lay together. They wanta eat an’ get drunk and work. An’ that’s it-
they wanta jus’ fling their goddamn muscles aroun’ an’ get tired.”