Wednesday 2 February 2011

Steinbeck, John "The Grapes of Wrath"

Steinbeck, John "The Grapes of Wrath" - 1939

I read this with my RL book club a couple of years ago. What a book! I love Steinbeck's way of writing, his descriptive painting of people, scenes, environment, situations. Fabulous.

Granted, it was sad. But I loved how the people helped each other out, how they shared the little they had if it was more than others had. I loved the descriptions of everything, be it the land, the people, actions, the situation. I also loved the little chapters in-between.

As a book club, we learned a lot from this book. 

Our society becomes a conglomerate, you have no recourse to solving your problem. Communities within communities are still created today. The poorest people are the most humane people. We go to great extremes to keep our children but for them it was life or death. There is so much about the story, intense poverty; start of unions, people's tricks to make money. You can feel the dust, hunger, fear, hope, and strength. As one member said: you could taste the grains of sand in your mouth. The book had tons of symbolism, really well developed. There were so many fundamental issues, power, capitalism, financial crisis. The irresponsible use of the land led to the dust bowl.

The author made his characters ugly, got you aware of social injustice, all these complaints about the unions now and further about how it came in the first place.

Effective, short introductory chapters, he introduced the scene and then got in depth. The benefit of that was we knew more than they did, a good literary device. Interesting perspective for the reader.

The main lesson: There is always hope, the strength of hope to carry people through.
And also: the story could have been written today.

I think I repeat myself but this is definitely a novel worth reading. I also really enjoyed "East of Eden" and his short story/novella "Of Mice and Men".

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception" and the Pulitzer Prize for "The Grapes of Wrath" in 1940.

We discussed this in our international book club in March 2009.

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.


  1. Great review! He did a fantastic portrait of the time. My favorite is East of Eden

  2. He did indeed, Emma. I think this is my favourite though they are all great.