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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I thought The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was one of the absolute best books I have ever read.
I love old stories, because somehow you would feel like you knew how this book would end, but would want to continue reading to make sure.
The story itself tells of the Joad family and their honesty, wisdom, pain, courage, compassion, and their will to survive.
A sweeping epic that takes place in the Great Depression. A must read for all to understand the heartiness & compassion of the human spirit.Published 1 day ago by Grant Nailer
Great character identification and vivid portrayal of the times and conditions.Published 2 days ago by Judith A. Jones
Classic read but far too wordy. The family is traveling with many others looking for work as they head to California. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Gail Donahue
I would highly recommend this book to friends and my book club. I found it extremely well written and very informative. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Patricia Smith
As a non-native American, I was not forced to read this as a young student, so I have not been biased about it. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Barry
So poignant and appropriate in today's world. The ending threw me... But overall i was riveted on every word. I want everyone to read this!Published 9 days ago by M. Palevich
A classic and a must read to better understand the plight of people displaced in the United States during the Great Depression. Steinbeck is on of the great American writers.Published 11 days ago by Logen