Book Review – The Grapes of Wrath

Posted: May 26, 2013 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Just now I finished reading one of the most acclaimed novels in American History – The grapes of wrath. While I thought I’m not going to like it as much as the rest did owing to its dramatic climax, the final page or rather the final stint just blew me away. What better way to show the hunger stricken world during American depression.


The author doesn’t bull shit in his ideologies in this book. It’s direct and on the face. Either you like it or hate it there’s nothing in between. I totally loved it. At least for this attitude. I’m not someone who gets wooed by the message, issue given out in the story. I don’t mind whatever happens in the story but I want to see the conviction in which the author portrays it. Right through the book one could see how confident Steinbeck was. It’s because he didn’t think of what’d happen after it.

The book written in 90 days flat was written with absolutely no distraction. The 30 odd page introduction says all that happened during this tenure. I loved the way he described his feelings. Everything was so real, so honest. Only Steinbeck could’ve done it. For the ones like me who missed the lines on the first page of book it says, “To CAROL who willed it. To TOM who lived it.” What that means… find it out yourself.

As someone who likes detailing I loved the way Steinbeck described each and every characters, every situations etc. If you’ve noted there was not even a single metaphor in the whole story. Generally it doesn’t happen in a road story. I’m coining my own term road story here taking a cue from the name road movie. It’s said the road in itself is a metaphor in road movies which is understood wrongly my many directors and they make the travelling so literal. But here may be, just may be because he didn’t want to use metaphors he made the ‘fambily’ travel all the while. It starts right from the start where Joad gets into the truck.

And talking about the details. The tortoise moving from one end to another was the height of it. Generally it happens to the author. They start putting in a lot of details at first because they’ve to get the character sketch right. Then slowly as they write the story they too get lost in the story and leave off the details which we don’t note or in other words don’t mind. Oh! Who would want to read ten pages about a tortoise moving from one side to another? It happens even in this book. It has happened in every book I’ve read so far. The only exception being Lord of the rings and that’s why it’s truly called as epic.

I didn’t understand, yes, I’d hurt my ego and say this. I didn’t understand why in between the Joad story he used small chapters and wrote something in first person with no quotes. I tried to figure out by I couldn’t. I’m not even sure who the first person is because the thinking, the language everything gets varied. But there must be something that would’ve gone behind it. Something fishy which I’d strive to decode in the future. At least when I watch the movie.

Right from the first this book looked like a movie material to me. Don’t know it was because I came to know about the book only through the very famous movie of the same name. I’d loved to have cast Humphrey Bogart in Tom Joads role. After watching ‘The treasures of Sierra Madre’ I just couldn’t think of any other actor to take part in this role.

The great depression in America is one period where everyone where irritated, everyone were so low. But the harder the situations the greater the masterpieces produced. This book stands as one. Another thing that the whole world is obsessed is Nazi and Hitler. Though it’d have been great if such terrible regime hadn’t happened but just look at the masterpieces made out of the regime. Can’t get better for an artist. I hate to be a hypocrite to say this.

This guy Steinbeck has literally been there with the Joad ‘fambily’ somewhere invisible otherwise how he could get the dialogues so pitch perfect. The way the kids talk. The things pa says when grampa dies. The uncertainty they endure. Granmas are always the characters to look out far. All old ladies are charming. Especially, when you see them as a third person. When they get into your family. They make a hell lot of noise.

On any other day I’d have hated Al for not understanding the situation and going for girls but somehow this book convinced me of his attitude which I’m not able to explain in words. If given a role in the movie I’d gladly choose Al. He’s how every guy wants to spend his life like. With automobiles and chicks.

The characters are the people who are just plain naïve people for whom the only aim is to win their daily bread. Even Tom who appears to be most sensible of the lot shows how naïve he is when they get out of the camp and move up north to pick peaches. He says again and again that he needs job not knowing that his desperation would make him vulnerable.

If a movie or a books woos you at the last if sure does stay in your mind. You forget things that happened before it. That’s what happened here in the book. It wooed be in the final page but that doesn’t mean the rest of the pages were crap. It’s just the plain old method of writing with glimmer of hope shining at last. Indeed light at the end of the tunnel.

The title is just apt. I can’t imagine a better title for a book about people and the place they were.


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