About the Author
No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and the plight of the common man, penning some of the greatest American novels of the twentieth century and winning such prestigious awards as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He received the Nobel Prize in 1962, "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
Date of Birth:February 27, 1902
Date of Death:December 20, 1968
Place of Birth:Salinas, California
Place of Death:New York, New York
Education:Attended Stanford University intermittently between 1919 and 1925
Reading Group Guide
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
Prepared by Dr. Donald R. Gallo
Professor of English
Central Connecticut State University
NOTE TO THE TEACHER
The questions, exercises, and assignments on these pages are designed to guide students' reading of the literary work and to provide suggestions for exploring the implications of the story through discussions, research, and writing. Most of the items can be handled individually, but small group and whole class discussions will enhance comprehension. The Response Journal should provide students with a means, first, for recording their ideas, feelings, and concerns, and then for reflecting these thoughts in their writing assignments and class discussions. These sheets may be duplicated, but teachers should select and modify items according to the needs and abilities of their students.
Life during the Great Depression of the 1930's was extremely difficult for almost everyone. But for those who had little to begin with, it created often unbearable circumstances. By 1935, drought and poor farming practices, especially in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, and Texas, led to the wind erosion of topsoil. So severe was this problem that the affected areas of the Great Plains were labeled the Dust Bowl. At nearly the same time, the development of the all-purpose tractor enabled large landowners to dispense with the labor of farmers who were tenants on their land. By the late '30s, a majority of the approximately 1.8 million tenant farmers in the South had been evicted from their homes. Many of the displaced farmers sought work in the "promised land" of California. Eventually, there were as many as 300,000 migrants in California, several workers for every available job in the fertile farming valleys of that state.
In 1936, John Steinbeck conducted research on the people who had moved to California from Arkansas and Oklahoma; in 1937, he toured the Dust Bowl and traveled with migrants on their relentless drive to California. From those experiences he wrote The Grapes of Wrath, which upon publication in 1939 earned Steinbeck both high praise (including the Pulitzer Prize) and harsh criticism for its strong language and sociopolitical implications. The novel continues to be one of the most highly praised and vehemently criticized pieces of American literature.
PREPARING TO READ
- In American history texts and other library sources, read about the Dust Bowl and other events of the Great Depression. If possible, obtain some of the famous 1930s photographs of poor farmers, migrant laborers, and people on city food lines. With other students, share what you see in the faces of those people.
- Discuss what happens when machines replace people. What alternatives do unskilled workers have when they are replaced?
- What is your definition of family? Is a family made up only of relatives? What keeps a family together? Of what importance is family unity in today's society?
- Obtain a road map of the United States and, as you read the first half of the novel, trace the route taken by the Joads, noting the location of major events along the way
- As you read through the novel, stop occasionally to record your thoughts, reactions, and concerns in a Response Journal. Your journal may be a separate notebook or individual sheets which you clip together and keep in a folder. Include statements about the characters - what you learn about them, how they affect you - and your thoughts about the key issues and events which the book explores. Also, jot down questions you have about events and statements in the book which you do not understand. Your Response Journal will come in handy when you discuss the novel in class, write a paper, or explore a related topic that interests you. In addition, because this novel contains several sophisticated words (e.g., petulant) and unusual expressions (e.g., frawny), you may want to keep a list of some of those words and their meanings in your journal.
UNDERSTANDING THE STORY
Chapters 1-11: The Land
- What does the setting of the opening scene suggest about the rest of the novel? What does it suggest about family structure?
- Animals play an important symbolic role throughout this novel. What important qualities does the land turtle have as described in Chapter 3?
- What opinions does Casy, the former preacher, have about sin and using "bad words"?
- How do the tractors operate? What role does the bank play? What power do the small farmers have against the banks and the tractors?
- Of what importance is Muley in this story? What's the difference between being the hunter and being the hunted?
- Chapters 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 tell the narrative about Tom Joad and his family the way novels usually do. What is the function of the other short chapters (1, 3, 5, etc.)? What does Chapter 7 imply about used-car salesmen?
- What do the faces of the Joad family reveal about them? What are the most important characteristics of Ma and Pa and of the grandparents?
- How does each member of the family feel about going to California? How does each feel about leaving home? What is young Tom's philosophy for dealing with the future? What does Ma's burning of the old stationery box illustrate?
Chapters 12-18: The Migration
- What is the first unpleasant event that occurs on the Joads' journey? What does that event portend about what lies ahead?
- What happens to solidify the family as they drive along? Of what significance is Grampa Joad's death? How does Granma take it? What is Ma's philosophy of "holdin' on"? What is the value of Casy's prayer?
- What does it show about the Joads when they befriend the Wilsons? What is the significance of the change from "I" to "We" (p. 165)?
- What is the function of Chapter 15? What does it imply about businessmen, waitresses, and truck drivers?
- When the car breaks down, what is significant about Ma's reaction? How does the mechanical difficulty affect the relationship between Tom and Al?
- How does the one-eyed man in the junkyard feel about the owner of the yard? What advice does Tom give him?
- In the camping area, what information does the ragged man give to Pa about California? What effect does that information have on the Joads?
- What effect does the nightly camping have on the people heading for California? How does it give them strength and power?
- What is the Joads' first view of California? What impressions of California do the two men from the Panhandle provide? Why does Noah leave? What is Ma's response?
- Why are the migrants called "Okies"? What do the two boys in the service station in Needles say about Okies?
- Of what symbolic value is the desert? Does California look the way the characters thought it would? What do we learn about Granma? What do Ma's reactions again show about her?
Chapters 19-30: The Promised Land
- How has farming changed according to Chapter 19? Why do the local people fear the migrants? What is a Hooverville? How do you suppose a Hooverville got its name? What are the "three great facts of history" (p. 263), and what do they imply about the outcome of the events in this novel?
- Why is it so difficult to obtain work in California? Why do wages fall? What keeps the men from uniting? What advice does Floyd Knowles give? How is Rose of Sharon affected by all of this?
- How do the police treat the migrants? Why? What does Casy's attack on the deputy reveal about him? Why is Uncle John so upset? What causes Connie to leave?
- What does Ma Joad mean when she says "Why, we're the people - we go on"?
- In what ways does the hostility of the local people change the migrants? How are the government camps different from the Hoovervilles? What is effective about the way they are run?
- How does Mr. Thomas (Chapter 22) treat the workers? How does Tom feel about working? In what ways does Mr. Thomas represent the dilemma of the small farmer?
- How do the Joads, especially the children, show their ignorance of "modern" conveniences?
- What do the events in Chapter 22 say about charity, religion, and hard work? What and who are "reds"?
- How is it that people are starving when fruit is overabundant? Why do the owners destroy the surplus?
- Why do the Joads leave the government camp at Weedpatch? How is life at the Hooper ranch different? How is it typical of the lives of migrants? What does Ma's encounter in the store show about the plight of migrant workers?
- What does Tom discover about Casy? How is Casy different from what he once was? How does Tom react to the attack on Casy?
- What do the boxcars provide besides shelter? In hiding, what decision does Tom make? How does Ma feel about that? What conclusion does Ma reach about the family? What keeps them all from giving up?
- How does the rain affect the lives of the migrants? Of what importance is building the dike, even if it breaks? How does Ma know they will survive?
- What impact does the stillbirth of Rose of Sharon's baby have? What does Uncle John do with the dead baby, and what does this act signal about him and the other migrants?
- Why is Rose of Sharon's feeding the starving man an appropriate ending for this novel? Why is she smiling "mysteriously"?
- In the beginning, each character has personal reasons for wanting to go to California. In what ways does each individual's goal change? Which people grow to see a larger purpose in life? What factors contribute to their changes?
- The heroes of The Grapes of Wrath are on the bottom of the social ladder; their language is often vile, their behavior is sometimes as coarse as their language, and they freely discuss bodily functions (which in the 1930s were seldom mentioned in literature). What was Steinbeck's purpose in portraying such unrefined and coarse people? What would be the effect on readers if the Joads spoke "proper" English and did not curse?
- According to statements made in this novel, of what importance is anger in overcoming fear? What must be done with anger in order to make it productive? Do you agree or disagree with that philosophy as expressed in this novel?
- What is the effect of the chapters which come between the narrative about the Joads? How would the elimination of those chapters affect the meaning and the impact of the novel?
- Identify as many Biblical references or parallels as you can find in the novel and discuss their effectiveness as well as their meaning.
- The political implications of this novel have been strongly attacked. In what ways is the novel a criticism of capitalism? Does the novel advocate communism? Defend your opinions with evidence from the novel.
- In what ways is your definition of the term family similar to the meaning Ma Joad gives to the term? In what ways is Ma Joad's meaning different? What do the implications of her meaning contribute to the author's message in the novel?
- If you had been an owner of a large California farm in 1939, how would you have felt about people like the Joads? As the owner of that farm, how might this novel have changed your feelings?
- Steinbeck wrote to his editor about this novel: "I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied." Did he succeed in doing that to you? If, so how did he accomplish it? If not, why weren't you affected in that way?
- Some critics maintain that this novel promotes hatred between classes of people. In what ways does it do that? In what ways does the novel's effect go beyond that?
- What has become of Noah? What does Connie do with the rest of his life? What will Tom become, and will he be successful at it? What will Al do next? How will these events change Rose of Sharon?
- You might have utilized notes from your Response Journal to answer some of the questions above. Now select one specific, unanswered question that you raised in your journal and see if your classmates can shed some light on that issue.
- Explain the importance of the contrast between the dryness of the first part of the novel and the floods of the final part. Note also the frequent references to the sun as a "large red drop" that made a cloud look like a bloody rag and the earth look bloody. How do those images contribute to the meaning of the novel?
- Describe the role women play throughout this novel. Pay particular attention to the dialog between Ma and Pa Joad on page 467, and be sure to comment on the significance of Rose of Sharon's final act in the novel.
- Explain how Tom's imprisonment affected the way he behaved during the journey and throughout his search for work in California.
- Steinbeck describes the migrants as "homeless, hardened, intent, and dangerous" (p. 257). Write a newspaper editorial about those migrants as if you were the editor of a small town newspaper in California.
- Steinbeck admired the poor migrants and believed that from their enduring qualities "will grow a new system and a new life which will be better than anything we have had before." Was he right? What kinds of changes have come about because of the suffering of those migrants of the '30s? In our society today, what similar problems exist? What problems in recent times have been exposed by writers the way Steinbeck did in The Grapes of Wrath?
- Each of the characters in the novel had a dream of what he or she wanted in the future. Describe your own dreams and expectations for the future and explain how you intend to go about attaining them.
- Write a short story to describe what happens to the Wilsons after the Joads leave them behind.
- Write a factual newspaper account of the citizens' raid on the camp at Hooverville.
- Some Americans believe this novel is dirty, blasphemous, advocates a communistic society, and therefore should not be taught in high schools. Explain to parents in your town why you feel the novel should be read and studied in your high school, or explain to a group of teachers why you feel the novel should not be required.
- To learn of the angry reactions of Californians to The Grapes of Wrath, read Frank J. Taylor's "California's Grapes of Wrath," published in 1939. Similarly interesting is Martin Shockley's "The Reception of The Grapes of Wrath in Oklahoma," which appeared in 1944. Both are reprinted in The Viking Critical Library Edition of The Grapes of Wrath: Text and Criticism, edited by Peter Lisca.
- Read a simpler view of migrant workers in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, or about a strike of migrant workers in his In Dubious Battle.
- Research the requirements for and the other recipients of the Pulitzer Prize (for fiction) and the Nobel Prize, both of which were awarded John Steinbeck. Read his Nobel Prize speech.
- Who are the migrant workers today in California? Are they better organized than the "Okies" were? What are the typical wages paid today for picking peaches, lettuce, and other farm produce? Research the housing and living conditions for migrant workers in your state.
- Who picks cotton today? Find out about the capabilities of today's modern tractors and harvesters.
- What is the percentage of small farms in the U.S. today? How do today's small farmers compete against the gigantic land-owners, and what are their relationships with today's bankers? What has changed for farmers since the 1930s and what problems still exist?
- View the 1940 film based on this novel (available on video tape). How closely do Nunnally Johnson's screenplay and John Ford's direction follow the events and the spirit of the book?
- Write an advertisement for jobs for migrant workers of the '30s. To what would you want to appeal?
- Locate and play recordings of some of the music mentioned throughout this book, such as "Ol'' Dan Tucker" and "Chicken Reel." In what ways is the music like the people in The Grapes of Wrath?
- Locate drawings or photographs of some of the different types of automobiles mentioned in the novel, such as Cord, LaSalle, and Zephyr. Find out why those cars are no longer manufactured.
California Dreamer: John Steinbeck, Born a Century Ago This Year, Left Us
with The Grapes of Wrath -- and Its Seismic Effects
From the May/June 2002 issue of Book magazine.
The masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath appeared in 1939, when the Depression had dragged on for nearly a decade and seemed to stretch endlessly ahead. Thousands of families had been dislodged from small farms in the Southwest, their plight exacerbated by drought conditions and a moribund economy. Like the Joads of John Steinbeck's novel, these distraught families piled into old jalopies and headed west, to California, hoping for work and a better life. When they arrived, they discovered that Californians didn't need them or even want them. They were herded into dismal government "sanitary camps," where illness and hunger were pervasive.
Steinbeck was sent by a newspaper to report on the migrant situation. Notebook in hand, he toured the camps in an old bakery truck, driving up and down California's Central Valley, an area that he knew well from his childhood. In one of his first newspaper articles for The San Francisco News, Steinbeck described the predicament of the migrants who would inspire his novel:
They arrive in California usually having used up every resource to get here, even to the selling of the poor blankets and utensils and tools on the way to buy gasoline. They arrive bewildered and beaten and usually in a state of semi-starvation, with only one necessity to face immediately, and that is to find work at any wage in order that the family may eat.In one camp, not far from Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas, he found about 2,000 people crammed into a pathetic shelter, many suffering from typhoid, flu, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. There was little food to be had, and the drinking water was foul. Once, when a riot broke out, the police squashed it brutally. "You couldn't fight back if you didn't feel good," Steinbeck wrote. "That was the secret the bosses and police had, and they knew they'd win."
After publishing his articles on the migrants, Steinbeck correctly guessed that his material was substantial enough to form the basis of a novel, and the first glimmerings of The Grapes of Wrath came into his head. In his journal, he wrote: "If only I could do this book properly it would be one of the really fine books and a truly American book." With eight books under his belt already, including 1937's Of Mice and Men, which had been a huge success as both a novel and a play, Steinbeck felt well prepared for the task at hand; indeed, he set to work with a vengeance.
He planned to write the book on an epic scale and decided it should alternate chapters of exposition and narrative. To keep it focused, he would center the story on one family, the Joads, tracking them from their farm in Oklahoma, along Route 66, and into California, where they would be forced into a camp with thousands of other "Okies" like themselves. The book, Steinbeck noted in the journal that he kept alongside the novel, would be composed "in a musical technique." He would try "to use the forms and the mathematics of music rather than those of prose." It would be "symphonic," he said, "in composition, in movement, in tone and in scope."
Steinbeck struggled to keep his concentration and remain disciplined, and one can follow his ups and downs in his journal. The entry for June 13, 1938, is typical. Steinbeck had been drinking with his friend Martin Ray the night before, and he came into his study the next day with a hangover:
Now a new week starts and unpropitiously for me. Last night up to Ray's and drank a great deal of champagne. I pulled my punches pretty well but I am not in the dead sober state I could wish. However, I will try to go to work. Don't have to because I have a day caught up. All sorts of things might happen in the course of this book, but I must not be weak. This must be done. The failure of will even for one day has a devastating effect on the whole, far more important than just the loss of time and wordage. The whole physical basis of the novel is discipline of the writer, of his material, of the language. And sadly enough, if any of the discipline is gone, all of it suffers. And this slight fuzziness of mine may be a break in the discipline. I don't know yet. But right now I intend to find out.Despite the hangovers and self-doubts, the writing progressed with astonishing speed and fluency. Between May and October 1938, he produced a manuscript of 200,000 words, writing in longhand with Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky playing on the gramophone behind his desk. On September 3rd, he christened the book The Grapes of Wrath, a title suggested by his wife and plucked from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The narrative was completed on October 26th, when Steinbeck wrote in his journal: "Finished this day -- and I hope to God it's good."
Published in April 1939, The Grapes of Wrath became an enormous bestseller, winning critical praise from many of the best reviewers in the country. It also earned the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a film by director John Ford. Not surprisingly, the novel helped to focus national attention on the migrant situation. Popular first lady Eleanor Roosevelt supported the book, and her strong views were widely reported in the press. Soon after, large sums of federal money were directed to California to aid the migrants, and Steinbeck's novel became a catalyst for the change in attitude of Californians themselves, many of whom had not understood the extent of the plight of the migrants.
Steinbeck had, in fact, managed to write his "big book." The Grapes of Wrath became an instant classic, and it has maintained its position over six decades, with a readership in the millions. There are precious few "great" American novels, and this is surely one of them. (Jay Parini)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck is an all time classic novel that depicts the reality of the Great Depression during the 1930's. The story first takes place in Oklahoma where the Dust Bowl had hit many crops and open fields where farmers farmed, children played, and had also hit the worst place to be hit-the lives of innocent people who lived day by day off their land. Because food and jobs were scarce, many families were forced to pack up what ever belongings they had left and move west. The main characters who take on the expedition of a new life are Tom, Ma, Pa, Jim, and Rose of Sharon. Each character has their own special quality's that they carry within that suffices the long and hard journey to California. While on the road the characters find not only how difficult it is to survive, but there are many things that have to be sacrificed in order for the majority to move on. Within the storyline you will find bumpy roads and battles that the characters must endure, thus so does every other book, however, this book will catch your attention very quickly because you will not only feel empathy for each and every character, as they struggle through the day, but you will be able to relive the hardships of the 1930's and think to yourself, "Wow, this tragic event actually happened to ordinary people and they survived." John Steinbeck is an amazing author and has never let his readers down. You will be oh so very delighted to read this book and will not ever want to close it.
At times, I had to make myself plow through this one. It was very depressing, made more so by the fact that things like what the Joads went through actually happened. I'm 'anti-spoiler', so I won't give away the ending, but let me just say that the ending hit me hard. It's as if the whole story came back to slap me in the face, making the power of it much stronger. I'm glad I finished it.
As much a political manifesto as the simple story of a family forced to leave their family farm and seek a new life in California, the Grapes of Wrath is a masterpiece of American literature. Set in the American West at the start of the mass migration to the West Coast, the story follows the Joad family from the foreclosure of their farm through the long road trip along Route 66 and finally to their lives as migrant workers in a land overflowing with workers. Their lives and hardships are vividly painted in Steinbeck's outstanding prose.
Steinbeck alternates styles in each chapter. Every other chapter details the story of the Joads. In the remaining chapters Steinbeck uses a repetitive, haphazard, ungrammatical, absolutely brilliant style to sketch a scene from the life of a migrant family, ostensibly the Joads. In these chapters, he conveys scenes such as the high-paced action of a used car lot, the bitterness of a family receiving foreclosure notice, or the back breaking work of cotton picking with such clarity and color that the words of the book seem to fall away leaving the reader with a tangible world in which voices are shouting or the breeze is tossing the cotton tufts into the air. In my own reading, I've seen many authors try to mimic this unstructured, repetitive style, but never done as well as this.
The story is rich with symbolism and emotion. While there are some spots where Steinbeck seems to be working too hard, the book as a whole is a wonderful read. You will come away a little more educated about that era in America's history, a little more sympathetic to the plight of migrant workers, and maybe even a little more left-leaning in your political views. Regardless of what you intend to get out of it, the Grapes of Wrath is absolutely recommended for anyone of the maturity to understand the deep themes that run through the story. Highly recommended novel.
I had to read this book for a tenth grade summer assignment. To tell you the truth, I thought it was going to be terribly boring? I thought, "What adventures could this family possibly go through that would be worth putting into a book?" I was so wrong! This book is amazing. Not difficult to understand; definitely an ideal American Literature novel. The only thing I disliked about the book was the chapters in between that described in GENERAL the experiences of migrant farmers during the Great Depression. Some of them were interesting, but in general, boring and hard to understand. But don't let that stop you from reading the book. It's great!
Even when I first read this in high scool I enjoyed it, but now it seems eve3n better to me. Maybe it's having such a hard time with finding work or working in such a crap job when I do, but this is a book that holds up to time in both the texture and pleasure of the story and in the subjects it tacles. I recomend it to anyone willing to let a little bit of real into their fiction.
While having been writtin in 1939, John Steinbeck wrote a masterpiece that is as contemporary today in its ideas as it was when it was written. The simple matter is that the "monster" never went away, it only grew and, "it breathes profits. If it doesn't have profits it will wither and die." The more things have changed, the more the banks and asset holders haven't. We've gone from the Great Depression to the Great Denial, now referred to as the "Great Recession." This is a masterpiece that highlights the depth of people in a time of trial, and shows that even if society should lose its humanity, there will still be individuals who will bring hope for the future. The genius of this book is in the ending. Whether it is a tragic or hopeful ending is left to how the reader sees the last chapter, as an ending or as a new beginning. FD.
This is, as far as I'm concerned, the most perfect novel ever written. It is at once a very simple story about a simple family and their struggles during the Dust Bowl era, and at the same time it is a complex commentary on a plethora of social issues that still affect working people today. Even the language of the book is deceptively simple, until the depth of what Steinbeck is saying through his characters or through his descriptions of the land hit you. Then you realize that what he has done is amazing...he's taken the simplest words and the simplest characters and created poetry.
The Grapes of Wrath is definitely an American classic. John Steinbeck has written a magnificent story that captures the hopes, shattered dreams and intense struggles of the Joad family during the Great Depression. This book is a must read for anyone looking for a stimulating book that will leave a big impression on you for a long time!
The story is about an Oklahoma family,the Joads. After Tom is released from prison for killing someone, he finds his house is torn dow, and he leads his family to work in California. My dad is the one who recommended this book for me, because he is a great fan of classics, and I guess I inherited that from him. This book is an absolutely, positively, must! Steinbeck, as every author does, has his own unique writing style. In a way, he is like another one of my favorite authors, Hemingway. He has a very simplistic, but beautiful writing style. The story is a sort of historical social realism and that's what makes me different from today's readers. Instead of the modern-day thriller, I'm into these kinds of stories.
This is one of the best written books from John Steinbeck. Tom Joad is a classic character. A must read for anyone interested in classic American literature.
The Grapes of Wrath is my absolute favorite novel of all time. It's beautifully written- honestly written. I recommend this book to everyone- some may say that it starts out slow, but only to set the whole mood of the story. It is full of hardships, sadness, passion, the will to survive and the love of a family trying to hold it together while they begin to lose everything. Shocking, historical, emotional. Don't miss this book -or the powerful ending!
If you read steinbeck you know how his words intertwine lushously to create characters we want to know and feel we do. Ive read this book twice now and yet i must ask what happened to the ending??? Its as if he just decided one day he didnt want to write about the joad family anymore. Like falling off a cliff the book just stops. As much as i wanted to see any sort of resolution to the many storylines and didnt get it, the book is that good. Still gets 5 stars
To be honest, the book was at first was hard to get through quickly, and the language at times was hard to understand or to stay interested in. But as far as the storyline went it become more surreal and imaginable, the life questions asked within the book can really get you thinking. The wonderful reading experience from this book was being able to analyze the characters and certain themes that Steinback purposefully put out there to catch with easy notice, I, personally like being able to grasp on to the themes and characteristics of the characters and plot. It gives me a better understanding of the essence of the book. Here are some things that struck me: The courage and stronghold of the Ma Joad impressed me quite a bit. Her character of being the ultimate anchor of the whole family and fulfilling her job as a wife, and mother of many children. Even though her own husband acts cowardly and always "turns away" in shame whenever confronted by her. Tom Joad you can also see a developing change in character throughout the book. He begins with a 'only today and no tomorrow' kind of outlook on life because of his experience in prison. But as he experiences the cruelty of possessiveness of the owners of the companies and jobs in California he begins to think more of the future and how to prepare and protect people and his family. Rose of Sharon also developed in her character, at the beginnning she was just a young pregnant and married lady,hopeful for a brand new happy life with her husband, but having to deal with extreme hardships of death, abandonment, and sorrow and overcoming them with a stronger hope, faith. Oh and by the way! Here's a hint! The true greatness of this book is not shown till the very last page, so I would still recommend to read this book.
The Grapes of Wrath is a great American classic novel ,that was a quick read and I book that I loved, it shows the struggle that most families had to face during the 1930s, The Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl. The main characters Ma, Pa, Tom, Al, and Rose of Sharon, all struggle on the long and hard journey from Oklahoma to the big cities of California. They are forced to leave their home, when there all of their decedents grew up and made their home, to find work to try to stay alive. Soon they will all realize how hard this task will be. While their family struggled to stay alive their relationships grew stronger within their family as the time went on through out there long journey. I have found that this book is defiantly one of the best books that I have ever read. Although that it was written many years ago it is still around and popular and a great novel to this day. I believe that John Steinbeck is a wonderful author, and he wrote this book, as of many others, very well. To wrap it up I think that this is a very wonderful book to read. It is written with passion, love, and it interests almost everyone. I would recommend this book for all ages, no matter if you are thirteen or sixty five this is a magnificent book to curl up with on the couch and read. It is one of those books that when you start it you cannot stop and you will never want to put it down!
Yes read this book. If you watch the movie you will miss half of the book. I would say that this is excellent read and quick also. It is a little sad and it makes you think about history.
The dust bowl migration of the Joad family in the 1930's chronicles a thought provoking subject and is told in an amazing writing style. The simple nature of the characters is depicted without apology. Steinbeck's use of their Southern dialect is authentic and coarse, but it contrasts with their noble approach to life and living. I loved this book and will probably read it again.
I read this book for Book Club as times are tough today but after reading the book we all realized that we still have it pretty easy. It took a while getting into the book as the first 100 pages are bit slow. But after that I could not put the book down. I heard that Steinbeck followed a family from Oklahoma to California and that is how he got his material for the book. The big takeaway for me is it made me think of how Hispanic Farm workers are treated today (2009) and it is a lot similar to how the Joad family and others were treated during the dust bowl.
I starting reading this novel for an American Literature class and ended up buying it to place in my library. An incredible story about a family's hardships during the Dust Bowl. Wonderful symbolisms and motifs. A brilliant read.
THE WAY HE WRITES AND COMPOSES WORDS! THE WAY THE CHARACTORS IN THIS BOOK HAVE EFFECTED ME IS AMAZING! I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD NEVER HAVE SO MUCH PASSION AND HEART SINCE "EAST OF EDEN". THEY WAS THE STORY FLOWS AND THE WRITING GOES MAKES YOU WANT MORE! HOPE FOR THE FAMILY WILL FILL YOUR SOUL, AND MAKE YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF! LOOK AT YOURSELF AND WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH AND WHAT YOU ARE. WHAT BAD THINGS ARE GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE? THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU SIT BACK AND SAY " HEY I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT, AND MY LIFE ISN'T SO BAD". AT LEAST FOR ME! ANYBODY WHO HAS BEEN THROUGH ANY BIT OF STRUGGLE....OR ABYBODY WHO ENJOYS GREAT READING...THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!!!
This book is amazing! I plan to read East of Eden and Of Mice and Men as a result of enjoying this book so much. It is truly a great book.
This a really good book. The only flaw I see is length, but its worth it. the description is amazing and you can almost envision whats going on as it happens. Not only that but he makes it as though you're reading about the time period more than the main characters. He is the first author I've read; pulling it off in a way I thought not really possible.
Steinbeck wrote some good novels, some that are even almost great (East of Eden comes to mind); this, however, is not one of them. The Grapes of Wrath is little more than bad communist propaganda.It isn't that the kinds of things he describes didn't happen, but the way he presents them---without looking for the deeper cause (rather than pulling out the tired old scarecrow of "greed", an abused and vague term anyway) or offering a real solution but rather simply pushing for a (dubious at best) political program---is not only unrealistic, it isn't artistic either. About the only time it approaches the level of genuine literary expression is when Casy goes on about how his idea of holy is for every man to be shackled, not even to every other man, but to Mankind as a whole. That's a horrible thought, but at least it's a somewhat deeper one.Even Tom Joad's famous "Whenever you seen a cop beatin' a guy..." speech is all about the insignificance of the individual, and as if to prove his point, Steinbeck continues the story for quite a while after that but Tom (despite having been the main character up to that point) does not reappear.And stylistically, this is one of Steinbeck's worst...it could be described as faux-Hemingway---lots of awkward sentences, unnecessary repetitions of words rather than using pronouns, etc. But it actually reads more like Socialist realism than anything else. It has a lot in common with some stuff put out by the Union of Soviet Writers under Stalin around that time. East of Eden is much better written, though Steinbeck is still using some techniques he seems to have learned from writers like Kataev.I did a bit of research after finishing this, and it looks like Steinbeck actually joined and had further involvement with the League of American Writers, which was set up by the Communist Party USA in 1935 in sympathy with the Union of Soviet Writers putting its policy of controlling and censoring the output of authors into effect the year before. Anyway, enough was known here about what was going on under the Soviet system by the time he wrote The Grapes of Wrath that he couldn't have had any honest excuse for glorifying it like that.I suspect that the only reason The Grapes of Wrath is considered such a great classic is that it was heavily pushed by the press which was highly sympathetic to communism in this country at the time of its release, and because of the movie version with Henry Fonda. People like to pretend that Steinbeck wrote books like this for "the common man", but the truth is it's incredibly patronizing and condescending; he really wrote it for wealthy intellectuals like himself to feel better about themselves. As someone who's in the working class himself (but doesn't intend to stay there his whole life), I think if I ever met Steinbeck I would have slapped his face, because The Grapes of Wrath is basically a slap in mine.
This is a classic which needs to be read by those who want to be well informed about American literature and history. It's interesting to note how this book is an accepted part of American culture today, but in its time it was very controversial. It is my understanding that Steinbeck's home town of Salinas, CA held organized book burnings of Grapes of Wrath during the 1930's. Today the City has a museum that honors his memory. How times change! Or do they? The haunting reality is that the story describes things that are very similar to what is happening today with undocumented immigrants. Perhaps a new Grapes of Wrath needs to be written that can inspire some new book burnings and ultimately change our country.Read April 2007
It was a bit of a struggle to get through it, but I am glad I got it done. I have a lot of respect for this book as a piece of literature and it did give me new perspective on the human condition during the depression. It also made me think that government intervention is sometimes necessary when conditions deem it necessary. I really enjoyed the short chapters that provided details of the life and times - they were written beautifully.
SNORE!! And i cant understand most of it!