by Haley Dunn, Southern New Hampshire University

This WebQuest offers reflection on John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath, as well as critical thinking towards concepts such as the American Dream and Manifest Destiny. Students will think critically about these high level concepts as they relate to the text, and they will be tasked to research other examples of American Dream-esque stories.

Introduction

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck follows the Joad family, a poor family of sharecroppers, as they make the trek to California in search of a better life. Without delving any deeper, it may sound like Steinbeck's novel is a portrait of the American Dream, or of Manifest Destiny.  However, underneath the surface readers will find that The Grapes of Wrath is a story of great suffering, sadness, and the displacement of homes and families.

Concepts such as the American Dream and Manifest Destiny may sound grandiose and even alluring.  Stories such as The Grapes of Wrath paint a different picture of a time where people were "following their dreams."  What is the American Dream, really?  What was the reasoning behind the concept of Manifest Destiny?  What are the real stories behind these lofty ideas?