Introduction When The Grapes of Wrath was published on March 14,it created a national sensation for its depiction of the devastating effects of the Great Depression of the s. By the end of April, it was selling 2, copies a day—a remarkable number considering the hard economic times.
This account of the predicament of migrant workers was taken more as a social document than as fiction. As a social document, the novel presents such a vivid picture of oppression and misery that one tends to doubt its authenticity.
Steinbeck, however, did more than academic research.
He journeyed from Oklahoma to California, lived in a migrant camp, and worked alongside the migrants. The political situation was a powder keg.
Social injustice is depicted so sharply that Steinbeck was accused of being a revolutionary. Certainly, he paints the oppressive economic system in bleak colors. Many critics note, however, that Steinbeck was basically a reformer, not a revolutionary.
He wanted to change the attitudes and behaviors of people—both migrants and economic barons—not overturn the private enterprise system. Indeed, Steinbeck observes that ownership of land is morally edifying to humankind. Like Walt Whitman, he expresses love for all people and respect for manual labor.
Like Thomas Jefferson, he asserts a preference for agrarian society in which people retain a close, nourishing tie to the soil.
His farmers dwindle psychologically as they are separated from their land, and the California owners become oppressors as they substitute ledgers for direct contact with the soil. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steinbeck demonstrates faith in the common people and in the ideal of self-reliance.
He also develops the Emersonian religious concept of an oversoul. Worse off we get, the more we got to do.
It is interesting to note how much The Grapes of Wrath, which sometimes satirizes, sometimes attacks organized Christian religion, reflects the Bible.
Even the title of the novel is biblical; the exact phrase is from the American reformer Julia Ward Howe, but the reference is to Jeremiah and Revelation.
The grapes have been a central symbol throughout the book—first of promise, representing the fertile California valleys, but finally of bitter rage as the midwesterners realize that they have been lured West with false bait and that they will not partake of this fertility.
The wrath grows, a fearsome, terrible wrath, but, as several chapters make clear, better wrath than despair, because wrath moves to action. Steinbeck would have his people act, in concert and in concern for one another, and finally prevail over all forms of injustice.In the grapes of wrath he took on the depression and told the story of Oklahoma citizens who fled the dust bowl to migrate to California for work only to find themselves taken advantage of and forced to deal with unforeseen social and economic webkandii.com://webkandii.com · Time and again in The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck demonstrates the profound ties and nuanced relationships that develop through kinship, friendship, and group webkandii.com arc of the Joad family shows, on one hand, a cohesive unit whose love and support of one another keeps them from abandoning webkandii.com://webkandii.com John Ernst Steinbeck Jr.
(February 27, to December 20, ) was a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and the author of Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and East of webkandii.com://webkandii.com Steinbeck's ability to capture time, place, and character of the common man in the written word is unsurpassed.
The Grapes of Wrath masterfully tells a compeling story of the Joad family during the Depression and Dust Bowl webkandii.com://webkandii.com back to top The Grapes of Wrath () John Steinbeck was born in in Salinas, California, a small town in a large fertile valley of the same name where, as a boy, he worked summers side by side with migrant farm and ranch webkandii.com John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression follows the western moevement of wone family and a nation in search of work and human dignity.
This completely updated Viking Critical Library Edition of The Grapes of Wrath includes the full text of the novel, corrected in , as well as extensive and contextual material including: Essays placing The Grapes of Wrath in webkandii.com?id.