The Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite novels. I can’t recall how many times I’ve read it. I know it isn’t all that uplifting and it still brings a tear to my eye and it makes me very angry at times. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Steinbeck’s novel is about the Joad family during the Great Depression. They are kicked off their land in Oklahoma and they load up the large family and head to California where they hear laborers are needed in the fields. Once they arrive, they learn that all the promises were misleading and they have to fight for their survival. It’s a heartbreaking story.
This novel is taught in American high schools and in college. I know I had to read it for at least two college courses. I no longer remember if I read it in high school, but I doubt it since it seems we didn’t read many books at my high school. I’m always amazed when The Better Half mentions all the books they read in school. I went to a bad school, I think.
One of the reasons I love this novel is Steinbeck’s writing. His characters are well-developed and likable. He has a way of making me feel like I’m right in the midst of the action and I can visualize everything. And I love his descriptions of the land. Steinbeck has a wonderful sense of place. Not only do I see the land, but I can smell it and sometimes I can almost taste it.
Also, I’m a history nut. If you want to understand how devastating the Great Depression was, read this book. Even though the story takes place in the 1930s, readers today may be able to relate since poverty is still prevalent, as is othering the poor and making them out to be the bad guys. Governments and society still do not have a solution to poverty and that fact is depressing.
During this reread, I read the copy I used for one of my college courses. I must have written a paper on this book back in the day and I highlighted the heck out of this copy. It was fun to see my notes in the margins, but I couldn’t figure out what my paper focused on. In school I was a history student and wrote many, many papers. I no longer have copies of all my papers so I guess I’ll never know what the topic was. I’m pretty sure it tied into the land since I went crazy with those passages.
When Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962, this novel was mentioned. It really is a great book and I highly recommend it. If you don’t like large books, then I suggest Cannery Row. But I do recommend that you read at least one work by Steinbeck. He’s fantastic.
This is the 85th book I’ve read from my 1001 list. Currently I’m reading Amsterdam by Ian McEwan.