What can I say about John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath? A light read, this is not. This is a very deep, dark look at a farm family from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma, pushed from their home from modernization of big farms.
As a farmer’s daughter, I gotta tell ya, the first part of this book was very interesting to read. When Steinbeck tears down tractor farmers for not knowing the land, not caring anything about the soil, etc etc etc…I wanted to find a time machine so I could pull him into my little farm town, circa 1995, when my dad, and all my friends’ dads were slaving away long before dawn, and way after dark. They started their education in the fields with their fathers, then went to college to learn about…well, whatever you learn about in Agricultural Science. And then, many of their sons followed in their footsteps and are now taking over those same farms. So don’t tell me that tractor farmers don’t love and appreciate the land.
Ok. Rant over.
(Before I get a ton of comments on that…I understand where Steinbeck was coming from. I am sure that to a Depression-era farmer, those tractor farmers seemed like absolute traitors. It was all about the money–they plowed over everything in their path, then went home.)
The perspective of this book was very educational. I really liked how Steinbeck gave us overall portraits of the time, along with the story. These snapshots gave me a lot of information that I did not have previously about the Depression–I had some basic history lessons from school, of course, but this is not a time period I’ve spent a lot of time reading about.
The story itself gets three stars from me. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good. I like Steinbeck’s writing, it’s clear and well plotted, but there were some holes here that I can’t quite put my finger on. John’s drinking…not really necessary, or should have been more of a deal. I see the point of Connie mostly, he was the father of Rose of Sharon’s baby…but Noah? What was his point? I would have liked to see him developed more, or at least talked about more later. I feel like after he leaves, the family completely forgets he ever existed.
There is so much about this book I could talk about, it would take pages and pages. I’m sure this has been the topic of many group discussions, and I think it’ll take me several read-throughs before I even start to grasp it. What strikes you the most about this classic American novel?