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Phalanx Allusions in The Grapes of Wrath
Vocabulary | Theme | Literary Elements | Allusion | Symbolic and Allegorical | Moral and Anagogical

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Symbolic and Allegorical

Turtle References

In considering the phalanx allusions in this novel, one of the literary elements used to convey this idea is symbolism. In chapter three of the novel, the turtle crossing the road is a symbol that carries throughout the book. Firstly, the turtle's shell in its own represents a phalanx in that it is strong and provides a shelter for the turtle when danger comes about. As the turtle crosses the road and faces certain trials, he uses his shell to protect him and give him the strength to continue across the road.

The turtle also symbolizes the group of migrant workers, including the Joad family and their struggle against the communists. Again, in chapter three, there is one instance when the turtle comes into contact with an ant. "A red ant ran into the shell, into the soft skin inside the shell, and suddenly head and legs snapped in, and the armored tail clamped in sideways. The red ant was crushed between body ant legs (p. 21)." This occurrence with the red ant symbolizes the conflict between the migrant workers and the communists, hence the fact that the ant is specifically described as red. When the red ant goes into the turtle's shell, trying to interrupt its sense of security and strength, the turtle immediately goes into his shell, employing his phalanx-like protection to destroy the ant. This is exactly what the migrant workers did against the communists. They came together to overcome the communists, and were successful in the end, just like the turtle was.




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