The Grapes of Wrath Reissue Edition, Kindle Edition
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- In this edition, page numbers are just like the physical edition
- Length: 215 pages
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
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- Age Level: 18 and up
- Grade Level: 12 and up
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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 alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
John Steinbeck (1902–1968), born in Salinas, California, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938). Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California laboring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). The Grapes of Wrath won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There Was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966), and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).
Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America’s greatest writers and cultural figures.
Robert DeMott (editor/introduction) is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University and author of Steinbeck's Typewriter, an award-winning book of critical essays.
- ASIN : B001BKTEZA
- Publisher : Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (March 28, 2006)
- Publication date : March 28, 2006
- Language : English
- File size : 1764 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 215 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,431 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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It is shame that it was not until my 81st year that I picked it up.
I was moved to do this by my recent reading and great admiration of Steinbeck's "East of Eden" and Steinbeck's letters which constitute a virtual biography of his life.
Of all these five novels, however, "Grapes of Wrath" is the one that has most deeply penetrated my life. For many reasons. But above all because I came to know and feel the characters more intimately and viscerally and emotionally than inany other book I have ever read.
I understand what Norman Mailer meant in writing of "Steinbeck's marvelous and ironic sense of compassion…daring all the time to go up to the very abyss of offering more feeling than the reader can accept."
Again and again, that is how I felt, hanging on every word and phrase, wondering, worrying about what comes next.
It did not happen by accident. Steinbeck records this in the midst of writing the book: "Yesterday it seemed to me that the people were coming to life. I hope so. These people must be intensely alive the whole time".
The whole time. Exactly. No false notes.Through detailed depiction of the environment, layer upon layer, in cinema-like detail, through the development of the looks, gestures and clothes of every character and through dialogue, authentic and colloquial, matched to the individual, I am PRESENT. I am THERE.
Steinbeck greatly respects his theme, the magnitude of the undertaking: "I went over the whole of the book in my head—fixed on the last scene, huge and symbolic (and I would add brave and unexpected), toward which the whole story moves. And that was a good thing, for it was a re-understanding of the dignity of the effort and mightiness of the theme. I feel very small and inadequate and incapable but I grew again to love the story which is so much greater than I am. To love and admire the people who are so much stronger and purer and braver than I am."
Such humility combined with reverence and ambition and incredibly hard work—the sources of greatness.
Like many, I resonate to this story today because it presents vividly what immigrants fleeing violence and life-threatening poverty face today. And the homeless too. It dramatizes how many will take advantage of them, some will castigate them as being dirty and threatening and dangerous, and a few generous souls will step forward as Good Saviors to try to help them on their journey.
For me, this story cries out for individual and collective action today.
We need the equivalent of "Grapes of Wrath" today to reveal viscerally and authentically the challenge that hundreds of thousands of threatened women, men and children face today as they seek safety and freedom for their families.
In the broadest sense, this novel presents the urgent need for social justice, understanding and compassion so needed in our world today. As one commentator observed, it is also at once an elegy and a challenge to live in harmony with the earth.
Hope and valor present themselves repeatedly in this magnificent novel, but never, ever at the expense of recognizing the raw often brutal challenge of life. The ex-preacher Casy captures this combination of challenge and hope as he describes how a friend looks back on being violently jailed by vigilantes because he had tried to setup a union among exploited workers.
"Anyways, you do what you can. The only thing you got to look at is that every time there is a little step forward, she may slip back a little, but she never slips clear back. You can prove that and that makes the whole thing right. And that means they wasn't no waste even it seemed like they was."
No matter what, we must continue on. Recalling one of my favorite texts the Talmud: "You are not required to complete the work, but nether are you free to desist from it."
Steinbeck honors the uniqueness and complexity of every individual's life but also the strength to be drawn in being part of something bigger than oneself, ones family above all and the whole of humanity beyond. It is a noble calling. One worthy of our best effort.
Now onto a few words about this exceptional novel. Since John Steinbeck always wrote books re: the Great Depression, he had an ability to understand their fear on a daily basis. If Steinbeck were alive today, his novels would probably be very close to how they were over 75 years ago.
His books, especially ‘Grapes of Wrath’ dealt with racism, extreme poverty, family problems not far from the ones today. This novel was the perfect example.
The descriptive words he used in explaining their hurt, their living environment , lack of housing, etc. was spot on. I closed my eyes listening & even sometimes reading because I wanted to be there, to try and understand what the Depression years were really like..they were not ‘The Walton’s’! This was real..not knowing what tomorrow would bring for themselves or their family.
I’m so glad I decided to read and listen again...every single person must read ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and realize at one time in the 20th Century individuals were living worse than dogs & cats...and unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t sound too far from reality today.
I’ve been honored to read a masterpiece!
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The Joad’s experience way more than their share of hardship and exploitation during the most arduous journey imagined, and still their good nature and family ethics are a testament to physical endurance and emotional resilience, everywhere.
However, it does have one of the more ‘unusual’ endings I’ve come across. After feeling as though I’d lived and breathed the ordeals of this family (not wanting to sound fictionally clingy at all) suddenly it was all over.
Believing I’d accidentally skipped a bit I read the last page twice more. Turned out I hadn’t and, despite willing it to happen, additional words were not going to magically appear. Therefore, all I can only draw from what was actually written there is this: the most unexpected acts of selflessness shine like a beacon, even on the darkest day.
I’d been putting of this and East of Eden simply because I am intimidated by long books.
Well I finally grabbed the nettle of Grapes a few weeks ago.
It is extraordinary. So prescient. So relevant. The story is fiction, and yet entirely truth. The appalling treatment of the families moving west. The lies they were sold by the handbills. The hate they encountered. The fear of the Californians.
The treatment of them is not dissimilar to the treatment of the slaves of the south. But in microcosm instead of over 100s of years of course.
The books is frequently hopeless, but also frequently funny, uplifting and empowering.
Everyone should read it. Especially Chapter 19. Which tells a story so familiar it’s chilling.