A Linguistic Account of the Protagonist’s Development in the Grapes of Wrath

Document Type : Research Paper


English Department, Shahid Madani University Of Azarbaijan


The novel as a modern literary genre is generally regarded as the realization of its main character's journey from immaturity to a status of maturity. The character, usually an uncomplicated person unable to cope with the complexities of life at first, gains an insight and understanding to handle his/her complex situation accordingly later in the novel. It is usually agreed in both literary criticism and linguistic criticism of literature that everything about a character should be established from the evidence of the text (see Fowler, 1977 & 1996 and Peck & Coyle, 2002, for instance). In the present study, the language of Tom Joad, the main character in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, was analyzed to reveal how his social position is established and how his transformation from a young farm-hand holding a carpe diem philosophy to a socially-wise reformist with a commitment to bettering the future is substantialized. Oriented towards a linguistic study of literature, the present paper employsSystemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) as the analytic framework.  The findings of the study may be useful especially for those involved in teaching English language through literature. 


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