How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his childrenThe Grapes of Wrath won John Steinbeck both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, firmly engraving his name on the stone tablet featuring the canon of Great American Writers Published in 1939, it is arguably Steinbeck s best known work and is still widely read today Admirers praised Steinbeck for writing an epic tale of Biblical proportions, singing songs of the common men and women and their struggle against exploitation by the rich and powerful, the strength of a family and the endurance human spirit in the Great Depression and the tragedy of the Dust Bowl, which forced many families to abandon land which was their livelihood for generations Detractors accuse Steinbeck of being sentimental and one sided, of greatly exaggerating the effect that the period and the surrounding had on the people he describes, of being a socialist, a Marxist, a communist and a propagandist sometimes not all at once Associated Farmers of California called the book a pack of lies and communist propaganda , while Burton Rascoe writing for Newsweek added that The Grapes of Wrath was nothing than superficial observation, careless infidelity to the proper use of idiom, tasteless pornographical and scatagorical talk.Criticism didn t stop at negative reviews The book was banned across the country and sometimes publicly burned by enraged citizens Steinbeck received hate mail and death threats The book made him a lot of powerful enemies The Associated Farmers have begun an hysterical personal attack on me both in the papers and a whispering campaign, he said, I m a Jew,a pervert, a drunk, a dope fiend A whispering smear campaign against Steinbeck was set in motion by his new enemies, aiming to defame him and turn him from a celebrated author into a figure of hatred they accused him of being a Jew, who wanted to deliberately undermine the economy and acted in Zionist communist interest The Associated Farmers are really working up a campaign, he wrote to his agent, I have made powerful enemies with the Grapes They will not kill me, I think, but they will destroy me if and when they can He was right When Lewis Milestone, author of the screenplay for Mice and Men came to central California to explore possible locations for the movie, Steinbeck never stopped at any ranches in fear that they might get physically assaulted by their residents The undersheriff of Santa Clara County was a friend of Steinbeck, and warned him to never stay in a hotel room alone the boys got a rape case set for you You get alone in a hotel and a dame will come in, tear off her clothes, scratch her face and scream and you try to talk yourself out of that one They won t touch your book but there s easier ways Steinbeck found himself under enormous stress and strain as he realized that Associated Farmers controlled the sheriff s office in California, and were capable of anything he was also investigated by the FBI under president Hoover, which saw him as a dangerous subversive He had to adopt an alias while visiting Los Angeles and keep secret files He was aware that most of the people who hated him have themselves been victims of propaganda used precisely by those who accused him of being a propagandist he told his agent that The articles written against me are all by people who admit they haven t read Grapes, indeed wouldn t dirty their minds with it John Steinbeck in 1939, when the book was publishedStill, at the same time, many other readers found The Grapes of Wrath to be enthralling and necessary a book which attracted attention to the plight of poor migrant farm workers to the West, showed the brutality and harshness of their condition and challenged the nation to do better for those people Earle Birney called the book a deed the act of a man out of the pity and wrath of his heart, and it was read and loved as such It captured the turbulent period of American history and provoked a reaction It made an impact, a real and lasting one which is its greatest achievement Interestingly enough, within months of its publication journalist Carey McWilliams published his own work on treatment of migrant workers in CaliforniaFactories in the Field The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California was a landmark study which exposed the social and environmental damage inflicted by the growth of corporate agriculture in California, and a condemnation of both the politics and consequences of large scale agribusiness McWilliams documented the social and economic trends which led to establishment of huge land holdings in California and the constant need for cheap migrant labor he found that the Okies were only the latest group to be exploited by the invisible owners of California s first industry The previous groups included Native Americans and immigrants from China, Japan, Mexico, India, Armenia and the Philippines Shortly before the publication of Factories in the Field, McWilliams became the head of California s Division of Immigration and Housing where he focused on improving wages for agricultural workers and their living conditions he increased inspections of labor camps owned by the growers, as he felt that on farm housing made the workers dependent on their employers, and changed the formula which was used to deny relief to workers who refused to accept farm work at prevailing piece wages, effectively forcing some of the growers to increase their piece rates Understandably, McWilliams and his work were also not well received by California growers they called him an Agricultural Pest Number One, worse than pear blight or boll weevils, and accused of conspiring together with Steinbeck to ruin their reputation Funnily enough the two never met, and did not arrange the release dates of their work in any way McWilliams was also involved in the committee led by senator Robert La Follette Jr., which became known as La Follette Civil Liberties Committee and which has performed the most extensive investigation in American history into employer violations of the rights or workers to organize and bargain collectively Between 1936 and 1941, the committee conducted extensive hearings and collected a vast number of testimonies These hearings exposed the tactics used by America s leading corporations to prevent their workers from forming unions employment of extensive industrial espionage and strikebreaking services, stockpiling munitions such as submachine guns, rifles and tear gas, and even subverting local law by hiring their own police forces The committee closed its hearings in late 1939 and early 1940, when it traveled up and down the California coast and collected testimonies of than four hundred labor organizers, growers and farm workers McWilliams ghostwrote the committee s report, a stern indictment of California s agricultural factory system, but it was not presented to Congress until October 1942, without much impact no one was listening and no one cared, for we were at war.McWilliams felt that the War enabled both growers and state officials from implementing a reform which they would almost certainly would have been forced to implement otherwise, and that the whole country went to sleep until a young black girl named Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 He, however, did not stay silent and stop working On the contrary, failure to implement recommended reforms seemed to give himstrength to combat injustice he published Prejudice Japanese Americans, Symbol of Racial Intolerance, a sharp critique and a chronicle of internment of Japanese Americans during the War, and was active in opposing McCarthyism In 1960 Carey McWilliams became the first American reporter to reveal that the CIA was training a group of Cuban exiles in Guatemala to serve as guerrillas in the Bay of Pigs Invasion His article appeared in October, five months before the invasion happened He died in 1980 Carey McWilliams, a good man. The copy of The Grapes of Wrath that I read had a great introduction by Robert DeMott, who provided plenty of excerpts from Steinbeck s journal and revealed his ambitions and doubts as he was composing the book Steinbeck was convinced that if he could do the book properly , it would be a truly American book and one of the really fine books At the same time, he was constantly thinking about what he perceived to be his own lack of ability and limitations as a writer, which greatly troubled him Honesty was what he saw as the answer and the way to write the book if he could keep the honesty in, everything would be fine Steibeck had plenty of opportunity to do exactly that While his initial writings have not been successful, he struck a chord with 1935 s Tortilla Flat which tells the story of Danny and his friends, a group of paisanos who live in post war Monterey But real success came with a series of California novels, stories of common people trying to make it during the Great Depression In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men and the most important one, The Grapes of Wrath.The severe drought of the early 1930 s resulted in a massive agricultural failure in the southern region of the Great Plains, above all in western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, where the fields have been heavily overcultivated by wheat farmers after the first World War The area consisted of millions of acres of exposed topsoil, no longer anchored by growing roots as the crops withered and died from lack of rainfall Constant sunshine dried the soil and turned it into dust, which then blew away in amounts sufficient to black out the sky and reduce visibility to a few feet these immense dust storms centered on the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas, and the adjacent areas of Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico By the mid 1930 s countless families have been deprived of means to earn their livelihood, pay their mortgages and buy equipment necessary to stay competitive with growing industrialization Dust Bowl victims were forced to leave their lands, and without any real prospects of employment move to California the promised land A dust storm hitting Boise City, right in the panhandle of Oklahoma on April 14th, 1935 This storm was particularly severe, and was one of the worst dust storms in American history, causing immense economic and agricultural damage it is estimated to have displaced 300 million tons of topsoil in the Great Plains It became known as the Black Sunday. Right click open in a new tab for a bigger photo In 1936 Steinbeck was hired by the San Francisco News, which commissioned him to write a series of articles on the Dust Bowl migration To write the seven articles, published as The Harvest Gypsies, Steinbeck traveled to California and visited local labor camps, shantytowns and Hoovervilles migrant settlements named so after President Herbert Hoover, who was widely blamed for the Depression There he met Tom Collins, manager of the Weedpatch Camp who became a major source of information and a travelling companion Collins collected statistics on camp life which Steinbeck used as primary material for his articles, and both traveled together on three trips through California They visited the settlements, went to meetings, stayed on camps and ranches, worked in the fields After the publication Steinbeck and his wife drove west along Route 66, from Oklahoma to California, like countless migrants before them.These experiences provided Steinbeck with than enough material to depict the lives of poor farmers forced to migrate west He set out to write a novel, conscious of the importance of what he saw and experienced I am not writing a satisfying story, he told his editor, Pascal Covici I ve done my damnedest to rip a reader s nerves to rags, I don t want him satisfiedI tried to write this book the way lives are being lived not the way books are written.All through the process, Steinbeck remained aware of the fact that he was creating a literary work DeMott describes The Grapes of Wrath as an engaged novel with a partisan posture, many complex voices, and passionate prose styles. Steinbeck saw the composition process of the novel similar to the composition of a symphony he wanted his chapters, voices and styles speak to each other, resonate with recurring themes, the total impression far powerful than its individual parts Steinbeck wrote of events and people he himself experienced and knew, and his concern was humanitarian to do justice to the migrant men and women, their desire to work and their efforts to retain their dignity and settle in the Promised Land, be an advocate for the common working people whose abuse by their corporate employers was largely a silent tragedy Men willing to work were hungry and starved in the land of plenty, which for Steinbeck and any moral human being was unacceptable He sided with David rather than Goliath, and set out to write an epic which would surpass all of his other work This must be a good book, he wrote in his journal, it simply must I haven t any choice It must be far and away the best thing I have ever attempted slow but sure, piling detail on detail until a picture and an experience emerge Until the whole throbbing thing emerges.Steinbeck was aware of his ambition and consciously employed imagery from and parallels to the single best read epic text in the US the Bible The exodus of the Joad family to California was written with the attention and momentum of the Biblical Exodus of the Isrealites, led by Moses out of Egypt California is the Promised Land,a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey Exodus 3 7 9 The Okies arriving at the border of California are stopped by the border patrol guards, who refuse to let them enter except for when the labor is needed much like the Israelites faced persecution and cruelty from the Amonites, Moabites and Edomites when they were trying to enter Caanan Tom Joad can be seen as Moses he killed a man who spoke bad about Jim Casy, like Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, and both served as leader figures for their people Jim Casy is a Christ figure, down to the same initials a preacher who questioned the established religion and fought the temptations of flesh, and lead the twelve Joads like Christ lead his twelve disciples Like Jesus, he disappeared and wandered alone He taught the gospel of social and spiritual unity love for all men, sympathy for the poor and oppressed view spoiler Casy believed in his mission to save the suffering workers so much that he was willing to give his life for it, and his death is exactly like that of Christ he dies a martyr, killed because of his beliefs, murdered by an agent of power with a piece of wood hide spoiler During the bleakness of the dry, dust bowl days as the suffocating particles fall everywhere you can t breath in your nose, eyes, clothes, food, house, the darkness at noon unable to see the Sun during a dust storm, the top soil flying away carried by the winds never to return in the Depression, when people farmers lost their homes and land to the banks incapable to repay their loans , no crops no money symbolized by the Joad family of Oklahoma in the 1930 s Seeing black and white pictures tell only a small portion of this, the real story that John Steinbeck wrote about masterfully in his novel The Grapes of Wrath Where a hungry large group of people, travel to the promise land of California a distant 1,500 miles away but find starvation, abuse and death In an old dilapidated automobile the Joad s , Ma the de facto leader and Pa, Tom, just released from prison for killing a man in self defense it didn t help that both were drunk Rose a teenager married to a lazy, shiftless dreamer Connie and pregnant, Uncle John who likes the bottle and his late wife he mourns too much for, their ancient parents and four other children And last but not least the preacher Reverend Jim Casy who doesn t want to preach any , having lost his faith the thirteenth member some will not get to their goal He s now after walking around searching for a purpose, in fact living like a bum decides since the people have left for the Golden State , why not him too Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and at long last crossing the Colorado River into the paradise of California, with high mountains and hot steaming deserts, discovering desert wastelands and still hundreds of miles to the fertile, prosperous , pretty, fabulously wealthy valley of San Joaquin the richest one on the planet But not for the 300,000 Okies , a misnomer, since many are not from Oklahoma an unknown name to the newcomers as they re scornfully called here, unfriendly natives and police hate , greatly distrust these poor needy miserable folks and frightened of them, most assuredly The affluent farmers keep cutting the wages 30 cents an hour, 25, 20 and dropping how can the workers survive Tom is angry , tired of the endless struggle going from place to place in search of work, lack of food, housing, especially the treatment by the well off like he is scum Nevertheless believes that nobody is above him and will fight back if necessary Deadly strikes, deputies burning down the laborers camps, violence and starving the old and the young, the vulnerable will not endure A strong statement about man s inhumanity to his fellow being A little kindness sought but will it be found Alternate Cover For This ISBN Can Be Found Here And HereJohn Steinbeck S Powerful Evocation Of The Suffering And Hardship Caused By The Great Depression, And A Panoramic Vision Of The Struggle For The American Dream, The Grapes Of Wrath Includes A Critical Introduction By Robert DeMott In Penguin Modern Classics I Ve Done My Damndest To Rip A Reader S Nerves To Rags, I Don T Want Him Satisfied Shocking And Controversial When It Was First Published In , Steinbeck S Pulitzer Prize Winning Epic The Grapes Of Wrath Remains His Undisputed Masterpiece Set Against The Background Of Dust Bowl Oklahoma And Californian Migrant Life, It Tells Of Tom Joad And His 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 Adapted Into A Celebrated Film Directed By John Ford, And Starring Henry Fonda, The Grapes Of Wrath Is An Eloquent Tribute To The Endurance And Dignity Of The Human Spirit Librarian S Note See Alternate Cover Edition Here ENGLISH The Grapes of Wrath ITALIANOThe Great Depression, told through the journey of one of the many families of farmers fallen on hard times in the 1930s The exhausting search for work, food and a roof over the head, put a strain on human dignity, and degrade the soul, making unexpected even genuine attitudes of solidarity by those who share the same destiny But hunger and very poor living conditions sow grains of desperation, from which gems of gall immediately sprout In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage seems to be a statement than a warning We are human, and we are destined to fight the injustice by the uprising And this you can know, fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe And then Tom Joad, one of the protagonists of the biblical exodus, who is unable to tolerate the anguish that his loved ones suffer, becomes the symbol and the incarnation of the human being of John Steinbeck However, readers have a bitter pill to swallow at the end.Vote 8,5La Grande Depressione americana, raccontata attraverso il viaggio di una delle tante famiglie di agricoltori che caddero in rovina negli anni trenta L estenuante ricerca di lavoro, cibo e un tetto sotto cui dormire, mette a dura prova la dignit umana, abbrutisce l anima, rendendo inattesa e insperata perfino la solidariet da chi condivide lo stesso destino Ma l estremo disagio e la fame seminano chicchi di disperazione, dai quali germogliano subito gemme di fiele Nei cuori degli umili maturano i frutti del furore e s avvicina l epoca della vendemmia pi che un monito, questo estratto lapidario rappresenta una semplice constatazione Noi siamo esseri umani, e siamo destinati a combattere il sopruso con l insurrezione Sconfortante sarebbe notare che l Umanit rinuncia a soffrire e morire per un idea perch questa la qualit fondamentale che alla base dell Umanit , questa la prerogativa che distingue l uomo dalle altre creature dell universo E allora Tom, uno dei protagonisti dell esodo biblico della famiglia Joad, con la sua incapacit a tollerare le angherie che subiscono i suoi cari, diventa il simbolo e l incarnazione dell essere umano di John Steinbeck Tuttavia, alla fine, masticano amaro i lettori.Voto 8,5 Man made environmental catastrophe and its in human cost a study in inequality and injustice Imagine having to leave your country because it is a wasteland created by a decade of dust storms Imagine having nowhere to go, but still crossing the desert in hope of finding a future after your past was wiped out by human failure, greed and environmental carelessness Imagine not being welcome when you arrive, with nothing but what your family vehicle can carry How can we live without our lives How will we know it s us without our past Imagine nobody caring about those thousands of us who lost their identities with their farms and livelihoods Immigrants are always also emigrants, and they carry the memory of being somebody, somewhere, in a distant past To treat them as if they existed in a historical vacuum is as cruel as it is common, and it is the recurring topic of Steinbeck s heartbreaking writing.Steinbeck is one of those authors that I love unconditionally, and with each reading experience I once travelled from where I lived in Texas to visit Steinbeck country in California looking for his traces in Monterey and Salinas, always accompanied by his complete works, from hilarious short novels to the heavy epic novels of good and evil In the end, I discovered his characters in the faces I saw on the road, I smelled his descriptions of nature in the humid or dry, dusty air, I heard his dialogues in the everyday exchanges on markets and in hot small town streets I love them all, each one in my carefully kept Steinbeck collection Asked by one of my children the other day which Steinbeck had influenced me most, I thought I was going to give an evasive, diplomatic answer, not making a statement for or against any specific story Instead I heard myself say The Grapes of Wrath And the moment I said it I knew that I meant it It may not exactly be my favourite Steinbeck, but definitely the one I feel uncomfortably, chillingly getting under my skin immediately Just recalling the voices of the characters makes me shiver as they suffer through the ordeal of fleeing from the Dust Bowl, that environmental catastrophe caused by greed and paid for by individual families, to a Californian paradise which doesn t welcome newcomers The poverty, the suffering, the love and despair it is tangible in each sentence, in each story line Family saga, social study, historical document, political standpoint, ethical statement on compassion and greed it is all there, but invisible under the masterfully crafted story, which has its own quality, beyond the message on the essential needs and worries of poor, common people without protective networks I don t know how to close this review, as I am not done with this novel at all, despite having read it several times But one quote shall stand as a warning to those who believe their wealth protects them against being humans, and feeling poor for behaving poorly If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he s poor in hisself, there ain t no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an maybe he s disappointed that nothin he can do ll make him feel rich. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.This book really gets my goat Those poor, dirty Joads So poor and so, so dirty After being displaced from their Oklahoma farm following the Dust Bowl storms that wreck their crops and cause them to default on their loans, the Joads find themselves a family of migrants in search of work and food They join a stream of hundreds of thousands of other migrant families across the United States to what they believe to be the prosperous valleys of California Only once they arrive, they discover that there is nothing prosperous about it not only is there a serious shortage of work mostly caused by an overabundance of labor that came with the influx of so many other migrant families , but they also have to contend with growing anti migrant sentiment among the local population and wealthy landowners who think nothing of taking advantage of them in their state of vulnerability Without proper labor laws protecting worker s rights and no trade unions to represent their interests, the Joads are severely underpaid for whatever work they do manage to find, and they simply fall deeper and deeper into despondency.The reason this gets my goat is cause it doesn t have to be that way Yes, the Joads are uneducated and wouldn t qualify for anything than basic manual labor Yes, it is the Great Depression and this is not an easy time to find a job even for skilled workers And yes, they are a family of 47 and they probably look pretty ridiculous all crammed up in the back of their makeshift pickup truck But gosh darn it, if only they had unions If only they had fair labor standards to guarantee them a minimum wage If only they had the protection of government legislation to prohibit wealthy landowners from colluding to keep prices high and wages low Which leads me to wonder what would Ayn Rand think of all this After all, aren t labor unions and economic regulation precisely what she argues against By that account, if Atlas Shrugged is the supposed Bible of right wing thinkers, then I d have to say that The Grapes of Wrath might just be its antithesis But the real difference, as far as I can tell, is that while Atlas Shrugged represents a crazy woman s vision of a whack job world that could never actually exist, John Steinbeck tells it like it is, and how it was, for so many hard working Americans who were taken advantage of under a system that did nothing to protect them And what s even remarkable is that Steinbeck s characters whom, by the way, Rand would refer to as moochers just thought we should be clear on that make Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon look like a couple of pussies What is it Ma Joad says That if you re in trouble or hurt or need, to go to poor people for they re the only ones that ll help This is a novel about the working poor, and it should serve to remind us what can go horribly wrong in an unregulated economy. Review contains a partial spoiler If you read enough reviews, you ll notice that most of the people who gave this book 1 or 2 stars had to read the book for a high school class Most of the 4 and 5 star ratings came from those who read it as adults I recommend listening to those who read it as adults Many people hate the ending, but I thought it was great Creepy Yes, but there was an immense amount of beauty and generosity in that creepy little ending At one point in the story, Ma tol Rosasharn that it ain t all about her most high school kids think everything is all about them, which is probably one reason they couldn t enjoy this book or most other classics they are forced to read Realizing this at the very end made Rosasharn crack her first smile in ages at least that s my take on the mysterious smile I wasn t disappointed in the lack of closure at the end, because the closure came in the middle when Ma said, Rich fellas come up an they die, an their kids ain t no good an they die out But we keep a comin We re the people that live They can t wipe us out they can t lick us We ll go on forever, Pa, cause we re the people So you know they will be fine whether life continues to be a struggle or not They will be better off than the rich man with the million acres they talked about If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he s poor in hisself, there ain t no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an maybe he s disappointed that nothin he can do ll make him feel rich Another good quote is I m learnin one thing goodIf you re in trouble or hurt or need go to the poor people They re the only ones that ll help the only ones I saw a special on 20 20 around Christmas time about how the lower class are generous overall than the middle and upper class, so this still applies today Would anyone like my savings account I think I m going to give poverty a shot At 17, I bought The Grapes of Wrath, cracked it open, and, after reading a few pages, declared it BOR ING Yawn I was off to the mall with my tight abs to find some jeans that would accentuate my vacuous mind.The same copy then sat on my various book shelves ever since I ve never been able to sell it or give it away, so finally, at 42, with far looser abs and a pair of fat jeans in the closet, I decided to give it an actual try Now, the ladies at my book club will tell you I m not easily won over by any book, though I do believe that a good book is a good book merely because YOU like it A good book may not have any other merit other than you thought the protagonist was sweet Or cute But, a great book Well, a great book is a whole different story A great book has nothing to do with YOU, or at least not YOU individually A great book pays tribute to the collective YOU, our collective consciousness A great book garners the support of Divinity and has the staying power of the people through multiple generations and years And this is a great book One of the best ever written This is the rare Great American Novel, up there with Lonesome Dove, The Catcher in the Rye and Gone with the Wind I can only imagine that Steinbeck s hands were shaking as he removed the last page from the typewriter yes, writers used something called typewriters back then I picture a silent room as he experienced a true moment of awe I like to think he had tears in his eyes, or that they slid slowly down his face, just as mine did throughout this read As Frost would say, no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader Believe me, if you are over 35 and have a heart, you can not read this novel without tears, laughter, anger and awe This novel is better than approximately 95% of novels currently on this planet I d like to travel back in time and cup Steinbeck s face in my hands and say, You did it, John You did it. If you are an American you need to read The Grapes of Wrath It scares the poop out of me because, my fellow Americans, we are repeating history If live anywhere else read it as well as a guide for what not to do.In the Grapes of Wrath Mr Steinbeck tells the tale of the first great depression through the Joad family from Oklahoma, who has been displaced from their family farm through no fault of their own You see, there was a big bad drought which made farming impossible In those days the family farm fed the family and what they had left over they sold But when the drought hit the only thing that would grow was cotton, you can t eat cotton, and that crop sucked the life right out of the soil so no other crop could grow in it for a very long timeThese things were lost, and crops were reckoned in dollars, and land was valued by principal plus interest, and crops were bought and sold before they were planted Then crop failure, drought, and flood were no longer little deaths within life, but simple losses of money And all their love was thinned with money, and all their fierceness dribbled away in interest until they were no longer farmers at all, but little shopkeepers of crops, little manufacturers who must sell before they can make Then those farmers who were not good shopkeepers lost their land to good shopkeepers No matter how clever, how loving a man might be with earth and growing things, he could not survive if he were not also a good shopkeeper And as time went on, the business men had the farms, and the farms grew larger, but there were fewer of them Some guys with a lot of cash came along and bought up all the struggling family farms and leased the land back to the former family farmers and when they couldn t produce, the new Owners kicked the families out of their homes Put them on the streets, children and elderly and all..who cares, right Poor people are less than.From California came hand bills, pamphlets promising jobs and urging the homeless to drag their whole lives via barely moving junk heaps to the golden state where grapes grew in bunches by the side of the road What choice did they have They drove across deserts and mountains, losing loved ones along the way, they answered those hand bills in droves What else could they do What happened when they got to California They didn t get jobs, they got ridicule They were called Okies and shitheals and were looked down upon How can they live like that The people with money would ask, as if being poor was a choice As if they were just lazy and all it would take to get out of poverty was to get a job but there were no fucking jobs The owners sent out handbills then they needed to Why Because the men begging for a job the less the owners would have to pay them Supply and demand The greedy sons a bitches wanted to pay as little as possible, and that is exactly what they did The Okies did not have a union of courseAnd the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away And that companion fact when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed The great owners ignored the three cries of history The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that it might be stamped out The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on Who are the great owners today The Walton family of Walmart , six of them, have the same amount of money as the bottom 40% of Americans That is 124,720,000 people, people 93 billion..BILLION and they want , money than could be spent in several lifetimes They don t need it all, but the rest of America does Do you think the Walton s might have an interest in keeping people poor Go check out who s in that store at 3am Let s also take a look at who is running against President Obama Mittens is so rich that he doesn t even know what a doughnut is, and he s fighting for the Waltons and all of the 1 % He s so rich he thinks he is entitled to the office and us people do not need to see his tax returns the nerve of us, move on We need to sit down, shut up, and stop asking questions because he, being a rich bastard, is an owner and we should know our place Not bloody likelyOur people are good people our people are kind people Pray God some day kind people won t all be poor Pray God some day a kid can eat.And the associations of owners knew that some day the praying would stop.And there s the end Also posted at Shelfinflicted This is another review as I go, which helps me capture my thoughts of the moment, before I forget them One thing that strikes me in these early pages is Steinbeck s technique of focusing on things that are supposedly tangential to the main narrative of the Joad family but yet are central to their fate I m thinking of the descriptions of the natural world like that wonderful chapter about the turtle, who eventually gets scooped up by Tom You see the world through the turtle s eyes for a moment and you see how the indifference of the characters to nature is a larger phenomenon that leads to their own ruin Steinbeck reinforces this theme later when he talks about how farmers can no longer afford to feel and relate to nature, that they re basically chemists dealing in nitrogen and machine operators dealing with tractors But, he says, when the wonder is gone, people are doomed And of course the entire book is about the doomed nature of the dust bowl, and this he says is how we got there, through this kind of moral breakdown.There s another, similar type of moral breakdown at work in the wonderful passage about the car dealers talking about how to rip people off Here we see other forces greed, capitalism, deceit that also serve as a form of human self sabotage.This is what I appreciate so far that this book is ABOUT SOMETHING That Steinbeck has something to say about the human endeavor I find this element missing in so much contemporary fiction, which doesn t really seem to be about much of anything at all.As it gets closer to California, and the landscape changes, the first ominous whisperings appear that California will not be the paradise the Joads expect Still they carry on, feeling like they have no choice, swept up in this tide of history.At first the Joads encounter only the cruelty of capitalism that the large field owners want to have hundreds of thousands of poor workers to choose from because it will keep wages low Then in the government camp, they finally meet with simple human kindness really the antithesis of all that Steinbeck is showing how important kindness is and how it is crushed in the capitalist machine Money becomes like an ideology, a mask that shields the owners from the consequences of their bad actions But it s also become necessary for survival No longer can small farmers work their own land They are forced into the larger economy, forced to earn wages and participate in the world of money in order to survive Thus, the Joads are eventually forced to leave the government camp in search of work Where They don t know Somewhere vaguely north.Eventually they find work picking peaches, but they soon become caught up in labor unrest that spills into fatal violence, and they re forced to leave I won t give away much of what follows Suffice it to say that the harrowing ordeals don t end there, nor the emphasis on simple human kindness as the antidote to the capitalist machine Simple human kindness becomes, by the end, the mother s milk that can sustain them, but only barely and uncertainly, and we re left with the indelible portrait of people trying to survive, unsure how it might turn out.A brave, fierce work that brims with the sense that it doesn t have to be this way that people have made choices to be cruel but can make choices to be kind, as well That something has to change because for most people, this architecture and logic of cruelty brings no relief and no joy.
John Steinbeck III was an American writer He wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937 In all, he wrote twenty five books, including sixteen novels, six non fiction books and several collections of short stories In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
- 476 pages
- The Grapes of Wrath
- John Steinbeck
- 11 October 2017 John Steinbeck