The most dominant theme of The Grapes of Wrath is that of the oversoul. Although the novel never uses this exact word (it is a term used by Ralph Waldo Emerson, though perhaps not precisely in this manner), the concept is clearly present as early as Chapter 4, when Jim Casy speaks of his realization that "all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of." Because all people are connected in this fundamental way, the distinctions between families, which once seemed so important, are radically diminished. Readers will note how Ma Joad-who, it must be pointed out, begins with an understanding that all people must help each other-must fight to hold on to this understanding as the crucible of her experiences tempts her to abandon it. In the Hooverville, for instance, Ma is at first reluctant to share her stew with hungry children who are not her own; in the end, however, she does share it. The novel's final scene offers the fullest image of "the oversoul," in which Rose of Sharon-who for so long before the delivery of her child was concerned only with her own (legitimate) needs-offers the milk her body made for her own stillborn baby to a man dying of hunger. Her cryptic smile suggests that she has come to the same understanding as had Casy: that all folks are "my own folks." Home is being with our "own folks," broadly-and, so the novel argues, most properly- defined as our fellow human beings.
Uncovering The Grapes of Wrath - Major Themes
The Grapes of Wrath Theme of Transience - Shmoop
SparkNotes: The Grapes of Wrath