New beginnings and new land, while made out to seem as beacons of hope and chances for prosperity, are complete opposites; new beginnings offer neither success nor happiness, but rather more failures and recurring sorrows. John Steinbeck and Jack Hodgins introduce the idea of new beginnings and settlements just as they emphasize the importance of togetherness as a community and a family in The Grapes of Wrath and Broken Ground. However, it is important to consider that these new beginnings were involuntary and rather forced due to situational circumstances. These circumstances caused drastic changes in the lives of the characters, changes that ultimately led them towards a downward spiral. In both novels, change in location helped
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Upon being given the promise of jobs picking luscious fruits, the Joads had imagined that they would not only be able to make a living, but enjoy this abundance of food as well. These dreams, as well as all other aspirations, were dashed almost immediately upon their arrival in California, showing readers that the idea of prosperity and opportunities through new beginnings is non-existent. In Broken Ground, soldiers returning from war are promised “parcels of land” on which they can settle, for the soldiers have been broken by the war and are not mentally fit to live within a society that hasn’t experienced war like they have. The land they are promised, however, is unfit for settling or farming, as it is strewn with stumps and surfacing rocks. Similar to The Grapes of Wrath, readers realize the absence of the chances ‘new beginnings’ seemed to offer. The returned soldiers are now not only suffering mentally, but also have no place to call home; they are broken people with broken ground. Both novels express the idea of new beginnings, but only prove that they are no new beginnings, but rather the same recurring obstacles and tragedies over and over again.
A major theme in both novels is the importance of togetherness as both a family and a community, but this theme, in combination with the idea of new beginnings, shows us that new families or communities formed through ‘new beginnings’ ultimately fall apart,