I’ve struggled with the thought of putting my ideas about The Grapes of Wrath down on paper because, what on earth can I say about such a great book? And what insights could I possibly give that haven’t already been said? I doubt I can excel in either regard, but I’ll relate some of my thoughts.
I’ve wanted to read something by John Steinbeck for a while now. I was planning to try Of Mice and Men, but my friend recommended this. I didn’t know much about it and went in more-or-less completely blind which enhanced its effect.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Grapes of Wrath concerns the Joads, a family who have been run off their farm and are forced to go to California in search of work. They have a flier advertising work fruit picking and believe securing this job will provide for them exponentially. The whole family then begins the journey south. Most of the novel charts this journey with a portion at the end depicting their time in California.
Even though I didn’t feel a great bond with any of the Joads, I felt intimately acquainted with their struggles. Their story charted the changing climate towards greed that we are all familiar with. Grapes of Wrath shows how that pendant to greed strips away humanity. It depicts how one set of men’s desires have devastating consequences on anothers needs.
The Joads were at once insightful and naïve. When any outsider tried to tell them about the conditions in California they would meet, they refused to believe it. Of course these claims did have a mounting effect on the Joad’s and a main reason they wouldn’t accept what they were being told is that this future was inescapable for them regardless.
When discussing naivety I can’t fail to mention Rose of Sharon. She really got to me when she believed that stupid hag at the government camp, but then that heart-breaking ending hit and she completely redeemed herself.
As I said, the Joad’s were also very insightful in regards to human behaviour. For example this piece of wisdom from Ma Joad was something I really connected with.
If you’re in trouble or hurt or need-go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help-the only ones.
This book will always stay with me, not as a warning to what humanity can become, because they’ve already reached it, but as an example of the devastating effects greed can have.