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Steinbeck s Pulitzer Prize winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics 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 Ros 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 aregenerous 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 Whenever I revisit a classic I m struck by how muchI get out of it now than I did when I was 24 or 19 or, God forbid, 15 Giving a book like the Grapes of Wrath to a 15 year old serves largely to put them off fine literature for the rest of their lives The depth of understanding and compassion for the human condition as communicated by a book like this is simply unfathomable to those who haven t lived much life yet, but after you ve gotten a healthy dose of living, it comes across like fi Whenever I revisit a classic I m struck by how muchI get out of it now than I did when I was 24 or 19 or, God forbid, 15 Giving a book like the Grapes of Wrath to a 15 year old serves largely to put them off fine literature for the rest of their lives The depth of understanding and compassion for the human condition as communicated by a book like this is simply unfathomable to those who haven t lived much life yet, but after you ve gotten a healthy dose of living, it comes across like fine music to a trained ear My heart doesn t bleed for the Joads today as it might have 25 years ago Yes, it s grim and unfair, but it s no longer shocking or disturbing, and I can see now that Steinbeck didn t intend sensationalism to be the main point What he s about is revealing the human dignity, the innate goodness and unbreakable pride of these people, and by extension the American people in general, something that still resonates today, especially with reference to the working classes When the Joads and their kind decline government hand outs, requesting instead the simple opportunity to work hard and be rewarded commensurate with their labor even if it means a grueling cross country journey to a place they don t know one can hear today s white working poors exasperated disdain for government, insisting that they simply be allowed to keepof their pay and not be held back in their efforts by nit picking legalities and cultural trivialities that disapprove of their lifestyles Sadly, most such people will never read the Grapes of Wrath Worse yet, many liberal lawmakers won t read it again after high school and won t glean from it an essential understanding about the pride and perseverance of the American working class which the far right is playing like a fiddle much to the detriment of the entire nation A book like the Grapes of Wrath should be required reading for every American over 30 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 fa 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 outhandbills then they needed to Why Because themen 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 mome 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