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Allusions Of The Communist Manifesto

Grapes of Wrath & Communist Manifesto Vocabulary

Introduction to the Communist Manifesto
Literary Elements
Symbolic and Allegorical References
Moral and Anagogic Connections

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One method utilized by Steinbeck to convey his message to readers is his use of vocabulary (diction/word choice). Quite often these words are repeated for emphasis, occurring throughout the story. While some of these words are created by Steinbeck himself ("Manself") and others are relatively common ("phalanx"), they are all used to the same end; to convey a specific message or allusion to an audience.

"Manself": First appearing on page 204, the word "Manself" has several important connotations. While the word itself its not in the dictionary (Steinbeck created it himself to describe the singular entity of the human spirit), the meaning of "Manself" is relatively easy to comprehend. "Self" refers to the individual; a singular person with their own desires, fears, and agenda. The first portion of the word, "Man," refers to the human spirit and humanity as a whole. Together, the connotation of these terms is that the individual has a place in collective humanity; each person is their own being while at the same time is a component of collective human soul. The "Manself" is the communal human spirit that all individuals contribute too. Steinbeck holds this idea in an almost reverent manner, evident in how he always capitalizes the word "Manself" as if it were of equal stature as the word "God". The idea of the "Manself" culminates in the transformation from "I" to "we," when the individuals are united by a common need, as is done when it is said "For here ‘I lost my land’ is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate-‘We lost our land,’" (206). It is from this collective need that the human spirit emerges, composing the second important facet of the "Manself;" the human drive for advancement. Steinbeck wrote, "Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live- for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died," (205). Steinbeck feared the time when violence ceased to exist as this would signify the dissolve of the human sprit and therefore the "Manself."

Phalanx: Communicated through the medium of a land tortoise, the idea of a phalanx is used by Steinbeck to describe the collective strength of cooperative humanity. The phalanx described both a Greek battle formation in which shields were systematically placed to protect the entire formation as well as describing a turtle shell, which gains its strength from numerous interlocking plates. By definition a phalanx is "1. a group of similar people or things. 2 a body of troops or police officers in close formation." (Oxford English Dictionary). Steinbeck uses the image of phalanx to convey that people are stronger if they work cooperatively, such as how the Wilsons and Joads are more successful in The Grapes of Wrath by assisting one another.

Oversoul: An idea originally conceived by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the oversoul is the collective soul of humanity. This concept is advocated in The Grapes of Wrath by Jim Casy, who believes in a love of humanity and the holiness of the human spirit, which drives society. Casy said, "Maybe,’ I figgered, ‘maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love; maybe that’s the Holy Spirit-the human spirit- the who shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s o a part of." (33). This idea of every individual being part of a collective soul relates back to the idea of "Manself," in which everyone is an individual and part of society at the same time.

I: By definition the subject ‘I’ refers to "The self; the ego." This subject is used by Steinbeck to describe the singular individuals prior to the unification of the migrant Okies. Before becoming on collective group of people (We), the Okies were struggling as individuals (I). This can be seen in the statement, "For here ‘I lost my land’ is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate-‘We lost our land,’" (Steinbeck 206).

My- My is the possessive form of "I" and is used in the same manner; to demonstrate the singular nature of the individual Okies.

We- By definition we refers to "the plural nominative case of the pronoun of the first person; the word with which a person in speaking or writing denotes a number or company of which he is one, as the subject of an action expressed by a verb." (Oxford English Dictionary). The word we implies cooperation or a collective body, which is how Steinbeck believes that humanity can become a truly significant force. This applies to The Grapes of Wrath in the instance of describing the unification of the Okie families. By coming together, the Wilsons and Joads were able to help each other continue west. They are united by their loss and the need to reestablish themselves. "For here ‘I lost my land’ is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate-‘We lost our land,’" (206).

Our- Our is the possessive form of "we" and is used in the same manner; to demonstrate the unification of the Okies against their oppressors.

Okie- This term was the label applied to the destitute farmers who migrated to California, like the Joads. Previously it had referred to someone from Oklahoma, but gained a distasteful connotation during the mass movement of poor farmers to California. "Offensive Slang. A migrant farm worker from the south-central United States, especially one seeking work in the West or Southwest during the 1930s and 1940s. Slang. A native or inhabitant of Oklahoma." (Oxford English Dictionary). The Joads were called this repeatedly upon their arrival in California.

The Communist Manifesto- Written by Karl Marx, the Manifesto served to critique capitalist society. Because Marx died before he was able to suggest a complete plan for government, the Manifesto is often misinterpreted to be just that. For more information visit the link for "Introduction to the Communist Manifesto" on the navigation toolbar.


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Philosophies of Marx & Engel
Vs. Grapes Of Wrath