Steinbeck uses the land to ground his characters’ sense of self

Hendersen argues that the characters in The Grapes of Wrath must be understood in relation to the places they move: identification with the land is intrinsic to the identities of Steinbeck's “Okie” characters. Hendersen cites Steinbeck's meticulous mapping of the Joad's journey as evidence for Steinbeck's primary thesis that “you cannot understand what is going on inside of California unless you understand what is going on outside.” (213) The novel contains clear geographic demarcations between the spheres of the townspeople—banks, growers, employers--and the spheres of the Okies on the outskirts of town, relegated to decrepit Hoovervilles and migrant camps. Henderson argues that these geographical markers help power the novel's social commentary and reinforce class divisions.

Major themes in The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck can be found at the related link, below.

The Journey Theme in The Grapes of Wrath As a major literary figure since the 1930s, Steinbeck displays in his writing a characteristic respect for the poor and oppressed. ...

The Grapes of Wrath Themes | GradeSaver

Throughout the novel, Steinbeck emphasizes the destructive potential of money The Journey Theme in The Grapes of Wrath As a major literary figure since the 1930s, Steinbeck displays in his writing a characteristic respect for ...

The Grapes of Wrath Homework Help Questions

There are several different themes in The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. Here I will go into depth on those. The three main themes in the story are free will versus necessity, the holiness of every man, and the kinship of all man.

The Grapes of Wrath: Theme Analysis | Novelguide