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The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

by John Steinbeck

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
34,40647677 (4.12)1 / 1526
"Traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers."--Amazon.com.
  1. 110
    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (John_Vaughan)
  2. 121
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Booksloth)
  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
    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.
  5. 60
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (tcarter)
  6. 83
    The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (chrisharpe)
  7. 30
    The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (tcarter)
  8. 30
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (caflores)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 20
    The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two stories of migrations of the working class in the US.
  13. 20
    Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb (TomWaitsTables)
  14. 20
    Harpsong by Rilla Askew (GCPLreader)
  15. 10
    Missing Soluch by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Called the Iranian Grapes of Wrath.
  16. 21
    The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Theme of workers' rights
  17. 10
    America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard (sirparsifal)
  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
    Raised from the ground by José Saramago (razorsoccam)
  20. 00
    American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California by James N. Gregory (eromsted)

(see all 28 recommendations)

1930s (3)
Read (74)
AP Lit (113)
1970s (480)
100 (20)

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» See also 1526 mentions

English (432)  Italian (10)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (6)  Catalan (4)  Swedish (3)  French (3)  Danish (2)  German (1)  Greek (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Vietnamese (1)  All languages (472)
Showing 1-5 of 432 (next | show all)
It was long and the characters could sometimes go over and over the same issues and using the same dialogue: for example, Rosasharn bemoaning her absent husband Connie. Nevertheless, and in spite of the omniscient POV, it was very riveting and beautiful; for writers, it's a case study of omniscient, using rhythm to imitate singing, and many other craft techniques. ( )
  quantum.alex | May 21, 2024 |
Memorable, moving, poignant. ( )
  sfj2 | May 11, 2024 |
It’s hard to find something to say about The Grapes of Wrath that hasn’t been said, but I’m still going to give it a go. It’s amazing how relevant this book is to major issues today – cost of living, migration, government assistance, banks and big companies, increased automation and just trying to make it through when everything is against you. I really felt for the Joads and everything they went through in the book. The lack of an ending to their plight also makes this book more haunting.

The story is set in the 1930s as the ‘Dust Bowl’ storms and drought make life difficult for the Joad family and their neighbours in Oklahoma. Their son Tom, just released from prison, finds the family farm abandoned after the Joads were forced to leave. Tractors and big business are taking over, and they (nor the banks) care for the humans on it. It’s about money and the companies and banks are relentless in their pursuit of it at all costs. Along with a former preacher, the Joad family leave for California like many other families after hearing about the great weather, growing conditions and plentiful work. What they don’t know is how many thousands of families from the region have the same idea and how big business is taking over the Californian agricultural industry. A reasonable amount of the novel is dedicated to their trip on Route 66 in a secondhand ‘truck’ (I think Australians would be more likely to call it a ute) and the tragedies, losses and problems that come along their way. If you are familiar with the cars of the 1920s and 30s and their basic mechanics, there is a lot here to entertain the reader as Steinbeck knows his engines.

Interspersed with the Joad family’s pilgrimage are shorter chapters taking a wider view of what is happening to America from multiple perspectives – the tractors, roadside diner operators, business owners, rich people and the Californians in residence. It gives a lot of perspective, particularly reading the story from a historical perspective rather than a contemporary one. Although there are kindnesses shared, usually between those who have very little, the book is rife with cruelty. The migrants are very poor, at times too poor to eat with their families starving. Elderly relatives can’t afford to be buried as registering a death costs money, so they are buried in unmarked graves in the wilderness. The migrants also experience a lot of prejudice from the locals, who treat them with suspicion and later anger as the oversupply of workers drives down wages. The business owners see them as labour that gets cheaper and cheaper. The law also sees them as a nuisance and many times deputy sheriffs try to raise the people’s ire in order to arrest them and give move on notices. The government is largely absent in the story, with the exception of some time the Joads spend in a camp. It’s a happier time, but all too short as the work disappears when the fruit and vegetables are picked.

The Grapes of Wrath is not a happy story. Just when the reader thinks things can’t get worse for the Joads, they do and in more cruel and sadder ways. Everything is against them from other humans to the weather. Steinbeck creates fascinating characters with their own faults that you can’t help but wish for something better for. Every word is worth reading and savouring over and it begs the question – have humans really come that far nearly 90 years later? Or do we continue man’s inhumanity to man in the name of capitalism? This should be an essential read for everyone in these times so we can try to be better.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | May 11, 2024 |
I would say that the Grapes of Wrath is arguably the best novel written by an American author. It functions as not only the quintessential embodiment of the Great Depression (so much so that it serves as a sort of textbook), but as a personification of the long-suffering working men and women of America. Much like the immigrant family in Sinclair's the Jungle, the Joads are faced with the harsh reality of having to strive to survive in the most deplorable of conditions, representing the ever-lasting struggle between the penniless and the prosperous, but their story is more than a just sad yarn of political propaganda. The Joads are icons of perseverance; though they seem to be nothing special, they are our everyday heroes, and their lives are spouted out from the dusty pages to our intimate understanding from the first. We feel what they feel and endure what they endure, and we follow them the whole beaten way, towing down Route 66 with nothing to hold onto save their frail hopes to reach the alleged Promised Land of golden California, and will die to get there at last. ( )
  TheBooksofWrath | Apr 18, 2024 |
I am at a little bit of a loss to describe just how profoundly this book has impacted my perspective of this time period and of life in general. All at once it portrays the most ugly and the most beutiful aspects of humanity and has left me in awe of the precision with which Steinbeck paints his portriat with mere words. ( )
  Gadfly82 | Feb 16, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 432 (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)
This is the sort of book that stirs one so deeply that it is almost impossible to attempt to convey the impression it leaves. It is the story of today's Exodus, of America's great trek, as the hordes of dispossessed tenant farmers from the dust bowl turn their hopes to the promised land of California's fertile valleys. The story of one family, with the "hangers-on" that the great heart of extreme poverty sometimes collects, but in that story is symbolized the saga of a movement in which society is before the bar. What an indictment of a system — what an indictment of want and poverty in the land of plenty! There is flash after flash of unforgettable pictures, sharply etched with that restraint and power of pen that singles Steinbeck out from all his contemporaries. There is anger here, but it is a deep and disciplined passion, of a man who speaks out of the mind and heart of his knowledge of a people.
added by Richardrobert | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 1, 1939)

» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steinbeck, JohnAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andreose, MarioAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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