The novel we’ve been reading in my English class is called The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. The story is about a family, the Joad family, and their trek to California to find jobs after losing their family farm. The family consists of many colorful characters, such as Tom Joad, his brother Al, and their sister, Rose of Sharon.
However, despite the differences in their personalities, each member of the family more or less has hopes of living a better life. Ma Joad even speaks to Tom about “little white houses in among the orange trees”. They expect to be able to find work once they make it to California, to be able to make a living for themselves and start over with their lives. They dream of jobs picking oranges and peaches under the California sun, with nice shade under the trees.
As I was reading this part of the novel, it reminded me of my own hopes and aspirations, as well as those of my peers. At the moment, as high school students, we each have a vision of ourselves in the future. Going out into the world and working as “real adults”. Having the time of our lives in college. Serving our country in the military. Basically, breaking out of whatever restraints that are holding us back in high school and becoming independent.
However, although I have not read that far into the book, I fear that both the Joad’s dreams and those of myself and my peers are just that – simply dreams. The Joads’ picture-perfect expectations of an easier life picking oranges in sun-kissed California seems simply too good to be true. The way Steinbeck depicts such a vision foreshadows that a shocking reality check is yet to come.
I only hope this does not happen in real life, for my own sake as well as for those around me. Many of my friends have a certain expectation of what will happen after they graduate. I think many of them feel as though as soon as they step outside the gates of my high school, they’re going to become the person they’ve always wanted to be, and live the life of freedom, fun and excitement that awaits outside of the high school classrooms. Chances are, though, life will not be able to live up to its expectations once we all graduate.
However, although these dreams all seem very unrealistic and unlikely to occur in my opinion, I see their importance. Without such fantasies, how can the Joads continue pushing through each day that they are living in hardship and struggles. Without such visions of the future, there is nothing to motivate high school students to continue studying, and working hard at school. Sometimes, the reality of a dream or fantasy just isn’t as important as the hope that it can bring, simply with its slightest potential to become real.