The Grapes of Wrath

I have more time to read now that I don’t have to study/read for school anymore. I recently finished a classic (“1984” by George Orwell), and am well on my way to finishing another one (“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck). The Grapes of Wrath was the clear winner between the two, partially because 1984 was too political for my liking, and because I really like Steinbeck’s writing style.

John Steinbeck also wrote “Of Mice and Men”, and I remember reading that in English 11. However, I never truly appreciated Steinbeck’s style of writing until I had the chance to enjoy his book without having to worry about answering reading questions and finding symbolism etc. (Yes, school ruins the fun in reading!!!!)

The Grapes of Wrath is a story set in the 1930s, during the Great Depression in America. It follows the life of the Joad family as well as the greater things happening in America during a time when the economy was at its worst and farmers were being driven off of borrowed land. Steinbeck builds on his story, making something from nothing, until an idea is complete.

Even the title is beautiful. “The Grapes of Wrath” comes from lyrics from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” By Julia Ward Howe:

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored”.

According to Wikipedia, these lyrics refer to Revelation 14:19–20 in the bible, which describes an appeal to divine justice and deliverance from oppression in the final judgment.

Steinbeck switches between the Joads and 1930s America in every other chapter. In one chapter, you are on the journey to California with the Joads, and in the next chapter you are seeing things from the general point of view of so many Americans during the dirty 30s. Steinbeck paints the story through dialogues and vivid details, bringing those details easily and effortlessly into the reader’s imagination. Steinbeck went on to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962.

“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…” – The Grapes of Wrath

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