Monday, October 15, 2012

The Importance of Music

Michael Sullivan
English 1110 M/W 1:15-3:15
Mr. Lohre
October 15, 2012

Soothing Music

Thus far in our reading in The Grapes of Wrath I have found an underlying theme of the effects of music on the people, particularly the okies. These people were going through tough times, during many circumstances they found themselves doing things they would have previously never imagined, as well as witness such acts indecency done to others. In the new life they found themselves in people were being torn apart, family against family, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, everyone was looking out for themselves. Simple acts of kindness were too far and in-between. But, once these people found out that there were yet others facing the same battles (finding food, work, and a place to live) they would join together in a community, or a Hooverville, if you will. They would group together categorized by their home states and even more importantly their common misfortune. In these little microcosms, there was life, order, and genuine generosity shared amongst it's dwellers. Even more than just sharing common ties through circumstance, poverty, and injustice, they also came together through way of music. 
In recent studies, I have found some very interesting surveys about how people view music. Here are some charts I found of surveys done on people particularly between the ages of 16-24 years old:

As we can see from the charts above, music is very important to people. I don't believe that that fact is new at all but rather is characteristic of all generations. We all enjoy music, and it brings us together. And in The Grapes of Wrath we see many examples of this fact being lived out by these people in their camps. We learn that they favor the guitar, fiddle, and harmonica in chapter 23. For example we see just how they all come near when these instruments are played and even have a special event each week just to enjoy their music and dance and escape the pressures of their everyday lives:

"These three in the evening, harmonica and fiddle and guitar. Playing a reel and tapping out the tune, and the big deep strings of the guitar beating like a heart and the harmonica's sharp chords and the skirl and the squeal of the fiddle. People have to move close. They can't help it. "Chicken Reel" now, and the feet tap and a young lean buck takes three quick steps, and his arms hang limp. The square closes in and the dancing starts, feet on the bare ground beating dull, strike with your heels. Hands 'round and swing. Hair falls down, and panting breaths, Lean to the side now."

This kind of love for music and desire for participating in musically focused events is still alive today. We frequently invite music into our lives via the radio, iPods, movies etc., much of our society today enjoys music all across the board. We have many genres of music and we find music being played most anywhere, our cars, businesses, gyms, and restaurants you name it! Music has always been a big part of my life, and what I listen to often affects my mood and my thought life. Music is also another way I have found to Honor God; He too enjoys music and songs of praise. I can completely relate to the okies, it’s hard to even imagine life without music. So thank you Lord for blessing us with music!

Seen above are two Jewish men celebrating the Feat of Tabernacles, one of the most festive feasts in Judaism, anticipating the return of the Messiah, Jesus! 


  1. I love music. I was in marching band and choir in high school and I still appreciate music that I listen to on the radio.

  2. I completely agree with music being a big part of every body's culture. Music is always being played, shared, created, and always being played at celebrations. It has the power to bring people closer together no matter what the circumstances are.

  3. Music is a huge part of society. It definitely affects our mood and behavior. It also can provide relief from the everyday. Just a the "okies" use it to get away from their troubles. Great research!

  4. I agree with Perry music is a big part of everyone's culture then and now.

  5. I wonder when the first music was created. Was it synonymous with the creation of man or did it come around later as societies and mankind developed?


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