Chapter 3: A Turtle and a Tale of Courage and Perseverance

As the turtle painstakingly and frantically climbs the embankment, comes in and out of its shell, overcomes obstacles and gets back on its feet, what it is showing are prudence, courage and perseverance, qualities quite indispensable for survival in such a harsh environment. As Joad walks on the highway, he finds the turtle and he thinks that it could be a nice gift to a child; children like turtles. He takes the animal with him, rolling it inside his coat. Joad seems fascinated by the turtle’s struggle to set itself free from the coat and by its determination to keep going, no matter what, in the same direction, wherever the destination is. The tale of the turtle has some morality that can be used in challenging times.

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Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 8:09 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. When he first picked up the turtle, I was afraid he was going to do something mean spirited to it, since I didn’t know much about Joad’s character yet. I was relieved to know he thought it would make a nice gift for his sibblings and not dinner which was a possibility given their dire circumstances. I also found it interesting that the woman driver swerved to avoid hitting the turtle while the next driver, a man, swerved to be able to hit it.

    • WAR & PEACE!

    • I was forming the same words that Marilyn said. I thought it was interesting that the first person swerved to miss the turtle, and the truck driver tried to hit it. It was my belief that the turtle was hit and Joad picked it up to make sure it was okay. Carrying it home for the kids… I wonder if after 4 years, he will be surprizes the the kids aren’t so little more.

  2. After I read this chapter the first time, I needed to reread it a couple of times to think about it. (Wow, I feel like I’m back in Lit class! After a steady diet of mysteries and magazines, my brain is getting a great workout!)

    Anyway, one thing I was thinking was how the turtle in a way can represent ourselves and the loose oats and ants and other creatures and insects, etc. our family members. The turtle is steady, trying to make it through life. The first car, swerving could be circumstances where things go well or disaster is averted. The car that seems to aim at the turtle representing those situations where events/circumstances/hardships are avoidable. The turtle (we) do our best to make it through life, trying to continue safely as we can. Our family members (the loose oats/seeds, ants/insects) try to ride along with us–we try to carry them and protect them. And, hopefully, they make it along with us.

    Ok…maybe I was a little tired when reading this chapter and my mind became a little too analytical….

    • Well-said, WP. I agree. That’s how I see it, too. The turtle is a major symbol of the common person, trying to make it steadily through life, vulnerable to the elements and turns of fortunes. The fact that Joad picks it up and carries it is some pretty obvious (but well-done) foreshadowing of his character.

  3. I’m not sure what chapter we’re currently discussing but I’m on chapter 21. What a great book. Steinbeck touches on so many social issues that aren’t that different from those of today. I’m really glad we’re reading this. I agree with Simone’s comment about how Ma is the family leader and the strength behind everything they do. Tom is also strong and takes after his Ma in that regard. He has said more than once that the only way to get through hard times is to put one foot in front of another. I think that his time in prison has also contributed to this outlook.


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