The Grapes of Wrath
By John Steinbeck
There are books that make you laugh, cry, romantic, some makes you end up being an erudite, but then there are books that propel you- make you angry, sympathetic and compassionate and predominantly make you contemplate what the world is all about, how it works and how it has been working since ages.
This, John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Grapes of Wrath, belongs to the second category.
Focused on the family of Joads, tenant farmers in Oklahoma and having a backdrop of “the great depression”, it’s the story of the family driven from their homeland and set out for California. The expedition makes them come across many “Okies” of their genus, withstanding same situation, sometimes worse.
Their hope to get work in California keeps them traveling regardless of ups and downs such as demise of Grampa and Granma, separation from Noah Joad-eldest son of family, Tom-the protagonist, Connie-son in law of Joad family &c.
At last they reach California- where their hope lied- to work, to earn livelihood, to have their home, food and an easy life away from agricultural crisis, economic hardships, bank foreclosures and of course “Dust Bowl”. But what they realise at the end is the devastated hope and shattered dream they had seen before setting out.
The Grapes of Wrath is a realist novel which carves out the helplessness, fears and apprehensions of the tenants at the time of the great depression in the 1930’s. It talks about human emotions in the most realistic and lively way without losing the creativity and beauty of the writing.
The on going changes in the behaviour of the people with changing circumstances of life, vulnerability of humans with the determination to live without succumbing to the situation has been depicted in this timeless classic in such a way that it never becomes obsolete in context to human nature.
The struggle to live, to earn bread and to see the family together and happy is the soul of this book.
But the economy of a country and its affects on the working class is something that can’t be neglected while talking about this book. Load of economic disturbances on the farmers and their unpredictable future is not only the part of this book but is a problem rampant worldwide since ages.
Book like The Grapes of Wrath offers not just a thought provoking writing piece but also brings to the notice the economic hardships of different classes and in particular the farmers especially when a situation like economic disturbance breaks out.
John Steinbeck definitely touches the nerves of the readers and tells exactly what might happen to the working class and how upheavals come in their lives suddenly.
This book is definitely one of those books you must read before you die. If you wish to read about a perfect portrayal of human apprehensions and will to survive, you must read this classic and have one of the best and most unforgettable reading experiences