Monday, 26 March 2012

The Grapes of Wrath

Title: The Grapes of Wrath

Author: John Steinbeck

Number of pages: 476

Started: 19 March 2012

Finished: 26 March 2012

Opening words:

To the red country and part of the grey country of Oklahoma the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth. The ploughs crossed and recrossed the rivulet marks. The last rains lifted the corn quickly and scattered weed colonies and grass along the sides of the roads so that the grey country and the dark red country began to disappear under a green cover. In the last part of May the sky grew pale and the clouds that had hung in high puffs for so long in the spring were dissipated. The sun flared down on the growing corn day after day until a line of brown spread along the edge of each green bayonet. The clouds appeared, and went away, and in a while they did not try any more. The weeds grew darker green to protect themselves, and they did not spread any more. The surface of the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the grey country.

Or if you’re looking for The Great Gatsby told in one minute, here’s the place to look (and it’s remarkably accurate!).

Plot summary:

Set against the background of dust bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel West in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.

What I thought:

This is a book I have somewhat avoided as I was nervous that this might be a bit school set text like. Given that this is a book that has been banned by US schools on a number of occasions that is perhaps a curious thought. As it turned out, this was a well-written, although rather depressing, tale of 1930s American life.

This was no rags to riches tale, instead it showed the hopelessness that faced some who sought a better life when the life they already knew was taken from them through bank foreclosures.

It was a well-crafted story and some of the “interlude” chapters were brilliant stand alone pieces that gave a momentary glance at some aspect of 1930s life. The story was about a journey searching for something better and showed the power of the banks and of those who try and break collective action and who allow “market forces” to lead the way. A story for our time.


Sarah said...

I'm glad you liked this. True, it is very depressing, but also has uplifting moments. And Steinbeck's writing is wonderful.

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - It was a really good book, despite the despair that it showed. I agree that Steinbeck's writing is wonderful.