Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Grapes of Wrath

As I've mentioned before in high school I decided I did not like John Steinbeck at all, but two years ago I discovered that I did. I just finished The Grapes of Wrathand would say it's my favorite of the three I've read. (The other two are The Red Pony and East of Eden.

This book is one of those famous novels that even people who haven't read know a bit about. I knew it was about an Okie family, the Joads, who must leave their farm in the dust bowl in search of work. Yet in my mind I thought the book was written about a period of history in the late 19th century. Wrong. It was written about the depression era and that made it more interesting or made me throw out any other preconceived notions. I also thought it was this long opus, but it was 476 pages and not a hard read.

Steinbeck masterfully writes in Okie dialect. In lesser hands, that would make for annoying reading. While it was hard at times to not correct their English in my head ("It's something not somepin") it works here.

I felt I learned a lot about history and the real affects of supply and demand on the labor market. It's not esoteric, it's truly a matter of life and death, when 5000 workers show up for a job that requires 1000. Like Ironed Jawed Angels I was reminded how tough it was (and I know to an extent still is) for certain segments of American society to get a break.

The ending was quite powerful. Nothing's wrapped up, but it's dramatic.

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