Abstract

Drawing upon the writings of Mimi Reisel Gladstein that explore the relationships between Steinbeck studies and immigration, this article illuminates the connections between The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and the experiences of Algerian harragas, who may be considered “contemporary Joads.” Like the Joads, the harragas, or “burners,” burn their identity documents as well as burning the gasoline needed to undertake their perilous voyages. In spite of their treacherous journeys, both the Joads and many Algerian immigrants persist until they arrive at their respective destinations, exemplifying both Steinbeck’s “phalanx” and the Algerian concept of “Twiza.” In the end, the Joads and these immigrants, subjected to slurs and a discouraging economic outlook, find their hopes for a better life dashed. These parallels illustrate the universality of The Grapes of Wrath and Steinbeck’s sure understanding of conflicts between insiders and outsiders, the haves and the have-nots, the smugly comfortable and the suffering who seek better lives for themselves and their families.

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