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The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin Classics) by…
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The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin Classics) (original 1939; edition 2006)

by John Steinbeck, Robert DeMott (Contributor)

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20,782None69 (4.16)1 / 909
Member:DorianG
Title:The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin Classics)
Authors:John Steinbeck
Other authors:Robert DeMott (Contributor)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:To read
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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

1001 (93) 1930s (124) 20th century (263) America (138) American (340) American fiction (84) American literature (507) California (324) classic (741) Classic Literature (80) classics (544) depression (151) Dust Bowl (308) family (144) fiction (2,332) Great Depression (546) historical fiction (228) literature (492) migrant workers (90) Nobel Prize (74) novel (393) Oklahoma (154) own (88) poverty (166) Pulitzer Prize (155) read (267) Steinbeck (115) to-read (243) unread (121) USA (155)
1930s (3)
Unread books (1,047)
  1. 81
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Booksloth)
  2. 70
    Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's the Grapes of Wrath by Rick Wartzman (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Centers around the controversy that exploded in California's central valleys when The Grapes of wrath was published.
  3. 60
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (John_Vaughan)
  4. 72
    The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (chrisharpe)
  5. 50
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (tcarter)
  6. 73
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (Patangel)
  7. 40
    The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: The only 20th century American writer who rivals Steinbeck in economy and forcefulness of language.
  8. 30
    Farming the Dust Bowl: A First-Hand Account from Kansas by Lawrence Svobida (nandadevi)
    nandadevi: Svobida´s book movingly describes the conditions in the Dust Bowl (he clung on for six years of crop failures) that the Joad´s left behind in their trek to California.
  9. 30
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (JudeyN)
    JudeyN: Set in a different time and place, but similar themes. Examines the different ways in which people respond to hardship and upheaval.
  10. 20
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  11. 20
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  12. 20
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: As much a story about the trials of individuals as a sweeping portrait and critique of an era.
  13. 10
    Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb (one-horse.library)
  14. 10
    Missing Soluch by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Called the Iranian Grapes of Wrath.
  15. 10
    America's Great Depression by Murray N. Rothbard (sirparsifal)
  16. 21
    The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  17. 00
    America and Americans by John Steinbeck (mensageiro)
  18. 00
    The Battle of Pollocks Crossing by J. L. Carr (KayCliff)
  19. 11
    A Working Stiff's Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can't Remember by Iain Levison (Babou_wk)
    Babou_wk: Description de la vie d'un travailleur itinérant.
  20. 00
    American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California by James N. Gregory (eromsted)

(see all 23 recommendations)

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English (251)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (2)  Vietnamese (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (270)
Showing 1-5 of 251 (next | show all)
I have to credit my best friend with making this book a priority in my life. We both love to read, but she's only seriously recommended a handful of books that most affected her. Thus far she's been pretty accurate. I loved Jane Eyre, and I just finished Rebecca last year. This one though, the one that impacted her the most, has been the longest coming. I've lost count of how many times I've attempted to read this one, but I just haven't been at a place in my life to really appreciate the weight of it as a whole, until now.

This was Steinbeck's commentary on the times during the Great Depression, and the subsequent tribulations that befell the working class—the hardest hit during the economic downturn. At it's core, the Great Depression really unveiled the greed behind faceless banks and corporations, interested in making a profit, rather than the children that were being turned out of the only homes they'd ever known.

"There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation...the fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates—died of malnutrition—because the food must rot, must be forced to rot."


Although it's been 75 years since it's publication, today's economy isn't too much different. In a land that is figuratively "flowing with milk and honey", many people go to bed hungry. We may not be farmers, but it's hard to throw a rock and not hit someone who has had their home foreclosed on—their "land" taken out from under them. Don't even get me started on people who live here illegally, who are taken advantage of by their employers. They're grateful for a job that will fill their bellies, but isn't enough to improve their situation. If boss man decides he can't afford to pay them that week, what recourse do they have?

It's hard not to want to take the Joads under your wing, and protect them. As you follow along with their preparations to head to California to farm other people's land, you can't help but know that things aren't going to end happily from them. What warms your heart is that no matter how bad their situation gets, they always try to assist others. Ma Joad said it best:

"'I'm learnin' one thing good,' she said. 'Learnin' it all a time, ever' day. If you're in trouble or hurt or need—go to poor people. They're the only ones that'll help—the only ones.'"


And then there's dear Tom Joad—the wise beyond his years ex-convict who sits in as the family patriarch, and probably my favorite character, next to Ma. Coincidentally, I had stumbled upon Walker Evans' self-portraits a few weeks before I started reading this book, and he kept popping into my mind when I pictured Tom. Really, most of Walker's early pictures seem like they encapsulate the general mood of that era. If you haven't read The Grapes of Wrath yet, why not join the NPR book club, and read it before it turns 75. You won't regret it, I hope. It seems like it can only get better with further re-readings. ( )
1 vote dreamydress48 | Mar 28, 2014 |
Re-read 04-2009 ( )
  JamesMScott | Mar 26, 2014 |
This book is long, and at times, very boring. Overall I enjoyed it. We need to remember the Great Depression and the impact it had on so many people, lest we fall into the same patterns. ( )
2 vote teeney | Mar 14, 2014 |
This book is long, and at times, very boring. Overall I enjoyed it. We need to remember the Great Depression and the impact it had on so many people, lest we fall into the same patterns. ( )
  teeney | Mar 14, 2014 |
This book is long, and at times, very boring. Overall I enjoyed it. We need to remember the Great Depression and the impact it had on so many people, lest we fall into the same patterns. ( )
  teeney | Mar 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 251 (next | show all)
Seventy years after The Grapes of Wrath was published, its themes – corporate greed, joblessness – are back with a vengeance. ... The peaks of one's adolescent reading can prove troughs in late middle age. Life moves on; not all books do. But 50 years later, The Grapes of Wrath seems as savage as ever, and richer for my greater awareness of what Steinbeck did with the Oklahoma dialect and with his characters.
added by tim.taylor | editThe Guardian, Melvyn Bragg (Nov 21, 2011)
 
It is Steinbeck's best novel, i.e., his toughest and tenderest, his roughest written and most mellifluous, his most realistic and, in its ending, his most melodramatic, his angriest and most idyllic. It is "great" in the way that Uncle Tom's Cabin was great—because it is inspired propaganda, half tract, half human-interest story, emotionalizing a great theme.
added by Shortride | editTime (Apr 17, 1939)
 
Steinbeck has written a novel from the depths of his heart with a sincerity seldom equaled. It may be an exaggeration, but it is the exaggeration of an honest and splendid writer.
 
Mr. Steinbeck's triumph is that he has created, out of a remarkable sympathy and understanding, characters whose full and complete actuality will withstand any scrutiny.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, Charles Poore (pay site) (Apr 14, 1939)
 

» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, DylanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coardi, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DeMott, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schrijver, AliceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
To CAROL who willed it.
To TOM who lived it.
First words
To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.
Quotations
Now the going was easy, and all the legs worked, and the shell boosted along, waggling from side to side. A sedan driven by a forty-year-old woman approached. She saw the turtle and swung to the right, off the highway, the wheels screamed and a cloud of dust boiled up. Two wheels lifted for a moment and then settled. The car skidded back onto the road, and went on, but more slowly. The turtle had jerked into its shell, but now it hurried on, for the highway was burning hot.

And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, the driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it. His front wheel struck the edge of the shell, flipped the turtle like a tiddly-wink, spun it like a coin, and rolled it off the highway. The truck went back to its course along the right side. Lying on its back, the turtle was tight in its shell for a long time. But at last its legs waved in the air, reaching for something to pull it over. Its front foot caught a piece of quartz and little by little the shell pulled over and flopped upright. The wild oat head fell out and three of the spearhead seeds stuck in the ground. And as the turtle crawled on down the embankment, its shell dragged dirt over the seeds. The turtle entered a dust road and jerked itself along, drawing a wavy shallow trench in the dust with its shell. The old humorous eyes looked ahead, and the horny beak opened a little. His yellow toe nails slipped a fraction in the dust.

[Penguin ed., pp. 15-16; Chapter 3]
"The cars of the migrant people crawled out of the side roads onto the great cross-country highway, and they took the migrant way to the West. … And because they were lonely and perplexed, because they had all come from a place of sadness and worry and defeat, and because they were all going to a mysterious new place … a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream."

A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of it's going.
"They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat."
"The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine John Steinbeck's original 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath, with any film treatment, critical edition, notes (Monarch, Barron's, Sparks, Cliff, etc.), screenplay, or other adaptations of the same title. Thank you.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Book description
This novel is the story of a family and their journey across the United States during the Dust Bowl era. It is a tale of hardship and struggle. It does not portray a pretty scene. As the family travels in hope of finding hidden wealth in California, they come across more and more broken people. They come to realize that California is not all they thought it would be. It is the struggle of their life and the reality of heartbreak. 

This book was so sad to me. I thought it was written really well. Until this book I didn't so know so much care would be taken about the travels of a turtle through the dirt. But it made me face the hard reality of what happened in California during that time period and the brokenness of all the people. I don't like seeing that side of life.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142000663, Paperback)

When The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939, America, still recovering from the Great Depression, came face to face with itself in a startling, lyrical way. John Steinbeck gathered the country's recent shames and devastations--the Hoovervilles, the desperate, dirty children, the dissolution of kin, the oppressive labor conditions--in the Joad family. Then he set them down on a westward-running road, local dialect and all, for the world to acknowledge. For this marvel of observation and perception, he won the Pulitzer in 1940.

The prize must have come, at least in part, because alongside the poverty and dispossession, Steinbeck chronicled the Joads' refusal, even inability, to let go of their faltering but unmistakable hold on human dignity. Witnessing their degeneration from Oklahoma farmers to a diminished band of migrant workers is nothing short of crushing. The Joads lose family members to death and cowardice as they go, and are challenged by everything from weather to the authorities to the California locals themselves. As Tom Joad puts it: "They're a-workin' away at our spirits. They're a tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're workin' on our decency."

The point, though, is that decency remains intact, if somewhat battle-scarred, and this, as much as the depression and the plight of the "Okies," is a part of American history. When the California of their dreams proves to be less than edenic, Ma tells Tom: "You got to have patience. Why, Tom--us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." It's almost as if she's talking about the very novel she inhabits, for Steinbeck's characters, more than most literary creations, do go on. They continue, now as much as ever, to illuminate and humanize an era for generations of readers who, thankfully, have no experiential point of reference for understanding the depression. The book's final, haunting image of Rose of Sharon--Rosasharn, as they call her--the eldest Joad daughter, forcing the milk intended for her stillborn baby onto a starving stranger, is a lesson on the grandest scale. "'You got to,'" she says, simply. And so do we all. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:51 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

The Grapes of Wrath is a landmark of American literature. 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. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma family, the Joads, who are driven off 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. First published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in the way that Uncle Tom's Cabin summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that: The Battle Hymn of the Republic be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book-which takes its title from the first verse: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's fictional chronicle of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930's is perhaps the most American of American Classics.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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