2010: 61. The Grapes of Wrath

“To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.”

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

      The Grapes of Wrath is not a perfect book.  It is sentimental, and it is often didactic, and I understand why people turn up their noses at it a bit.  But you can’t deny that its a powerful look at what was a terrible American problem, and that it’s written with heart and compassion for the suffering of ordinary people being uprooted in heartbreaking ways.  I can only imagine the type of stir it made when it was published, and it does remind me of Uncle Tom’s Cabin - another book where the urgency behind it makes up for the fact that the writing can make you wince, in places.  And when I compare it to Tobacco Road, which was so ugly towards its poor protagonists, I can’t fault Steinbeck for his warm and human portrayals of the Joads and their cohorts, even if they do run a bit towards the saintly.  Given what the “Okies” were dealing with and what they were facing, it’s fine to see them as people, doing their best in a bad situation.

       I don’t know - when I was re-reading Grapes, I kept thinking how sentimental and manipulative it was - and then getting choked up and manipulated by it.  I don’t think I’ll rush to read it again anytime soon, and I don’t love it like I loved East of Eden, but I can’t deny it.  

Date/Place Completed:  August 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Re-Read, Fiction, Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017