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The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

by John Steinbeck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
30,59442474 (4.13)1 / 1445
"Traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers."--Amazon.com.
  1. 111
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Booksloth)
  2. 100
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (John_Vaughan)
  3. 90
    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.
  4. 60
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (tcarter)
  5. 83
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (chrisharpe)
  6. 50
    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.
  7. 30
    The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (tcarter)
  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. 41
    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.
  10. 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.
  11. 20
    The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two stories of migrations of the working class in the US.
  12. 20
    Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb (TomWaitsTables)
  13. 20
    Harpsong by Rilla Askew (GCPLreader)
  14. 20
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (caflores)
  15. 10
    America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard (sirparsifal)
  16. 10
    Raised from the ground by José Saramago (razorsoccam)
  17. 21
    The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  18. 10
    The Bottom of the Sky by William C Pack (LoriMe)
    LoriMe: Mr. Steinbeck wrote a gritty family saga embedded in the early to mid part of the 20th Century. Mr. Pack wrote a gritty family saga embedded in the end of the 20th Century. The characters and stories moved me equally. Both are written beautifully.
  19. 10
    Missing Soluch by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Called the Iranian Grapes of Wrath.
  20. 66
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (Patangel)

(see all 27 recommendations)

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» See also 1445 mentions

English (388)  Italian (10)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (6)  Catalan (3)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  Danish (2)  Vietnamese (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (422)
Showing 1-5 of 388 (next | show all)
I was supposed to read this classic as a senior in high school. Instead, I read the Cliff’s Notes version. Knowing what I know now, I would have read this book on its own. It stands as one of the greatest pieces of fiction in the English language, certainly one of the greatest pieces set in America. Steinbeck rightfully won a Pulitzer Prize for it, and eighty years later, it evokes deep feelings of human dignity.

Set in the Depression-era western United States, this story tells of a family who leaves their farm in Oklahoma since the so-called Dust Bowl has trampled opportunities for farmers. They leave for California, which promises a land of plenty and of high wages for migrant workers. The land-of-plenty part turned out to be true, but the economy was caught in the unhealthy effects of a two-class system, filled with oligarchy and collusion.

With this economic backdrop, Steinbeck then explores the variegated cultural dynamics surrounding migrant workers in California. Hoovervilles, government camps, and other migrant settings fill their journey. In a dramatic final scene, this family conveys human dignity to strangers despite being universally demeaned in the California economy by greedy landlords.

Steinbeck captures it all in this moving classic. He fills every-other chapter with a depersonalized story of the land. This functions to increase the intrigue and heighten the drama. It’s easy to see why this has been called a quintessential American story. It involves many themes that constituted twentieth-century life. While certainly not hopeful, this tale still pulls in sentiments of a deep humanity. In an age where Americans seem at each others’ throats with political strife, this book can remind us of the simple virtue of doing good to our neighbors. ( )
  scottjpearson | May 9, 2022 |
Steinbeck nails the true nature of man in this book; the good, the bad and the ugly. In this regard the Grapes of Wrath is a great read and definite classic. But the constant use of bad language in the dialog, especially taking the Lord‘s name in vain, made it difficult for me to read at times. Bad language does nothing to enhance a story and the older I get, the less I can tolerate it. Here it reduced a great book to merely good. ( )
  282Mikado | Apr 13, 2022 |
I read this during Covid lockdown, giving it extra significance with the rash of unemployment and looming evictions and corporate relief instead of working class social programs. America has not changed so much. What an abrupt and devastating ending. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
I read this during Covid lockdown, giving it extra significance with the rash of unemployment and looming evictions and corporate relief instead of working class social programs. America has not changed so much. What an abrupt and devastating ending. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Why I picked this book up: I read this book in high school. I grew up in Los Angeles in a middle class family with mother, father and two siblings. We were never in need and my wife was born in the beauty of Monterey. I decided to reread about Joads family from Oklahoma to the promised land in California where they wanted to work the land. I am also employed by the state of CA in a max security prison.

Thoughts: economics during the dust bowl is captured very well by Steinbeck. Wage slicing, the reality of needs to address hunger the social aspects, were very powerful and made me consider what I would do in a situation living with my wife and children at that time. The family dynamic’s sticking to it, brother coming from jail following his good behavior which brought thoughts of my work to this family.

Why I finished this read: overall, I loved this book. It is rather slow getting started but as it developed it became more and more riveting. The political, economic issues this book brings up, family factors and what I would do living in times like this and watching society today made it easy to finish this book again.

I rated this book at 5 out of 5 stars. ( )
  DrT | Feb 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 388 (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 (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steinbeckprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baker, DylanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benton, Thomas HartIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, BonnieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coardi, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coindreau, Maurice-EdgarTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crofut, BobIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DeMott, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giron, de Maria CoyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hewgill, JodyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perroni, Sergio ClaudioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sampietro, LuigiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schrijver, AliceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Terkel, StudsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
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."
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(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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"Traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers."--Amazon.com.

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