The Grapes of Wrath, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (6 ratings)

Description

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.' Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the promised land of California.

Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.

Information

£9.99

£8.59

 
Free Home Delivery

on all orders

 
Pick up orders

from local bookshops

Reviews

Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

  Previous  |  Next

Review by
5

Speaking as a fan of Ayn Rand's work, believe me when I say this is the best rebuttal to Atlas Shrugged I've ever read. It's absolutely incredible what even the most willingly industrious people had to go through, and how thoroughly they were held down during this era by those more fortunate. Even I have to admit government intervention was practically mandatory to escape this, and it's sad that a war was required to really put an end to it.

Review by
3

The story of workers trekking their way across America to California in search of work at teh time of the depression. Very evocotive of the times and very American. The dialogue is written exactly as the people would have spoken so very coloquial - helps to get the feel of the people but I did find it tedious in the end as I could never have my 'own voice'. My book clubs favourite read of the year. (not mine!)

Review by
4

Just read through The Grapes of Wrath after 35 years...I understand the context much better, and am probably able to pick out details that I missed as a teenager. I can also better appreciate the broader, human themes that aren't specific to the historical or political story - especially the parts about religion and holiness, and about sexual roles. And I suspect I can savor the writing more at this age - I most enjoyed the short, thematic chapters this time whereas I remember finding them a chore back then.But overall, the story and characters felt pretty flat this go around. My main impressions from reading this years ago was shock and outrage at how the "Okies" were treated during the depression, and Steinbeck's political statements about the evils of capitalism and the importance of labor organization. The book had a huge impact on me back then, in the same way I was influenced by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. On reading it now, I find the Joad family story simplistic. The good guys are just too selfless and heroic, and the bad guys just too selfish and evil, and the social classes fit into their respective type almost without exception. The characters don't come to life the way they do under a pen like Wallace Stegner’s; they're archetypes rather than complex, conflicted, human beings. I'm much more cynical about the socialist critique of capitalism now, especially having studied socialist societies in college and lived in supposedly socialist China in the 1980s. I don't doubt for a second that this type of cruelty existed, or that people put up with it and made heroic efforts to survive as the people did in this novel. I also know that capitalism, if unchecked, can be a force for evil and destruction; even though I believe it can also be a force for good if channeled properly, and with the right protections for those that try but just can't make it. But it's a vastly more complicated story than this book puts across.All this compels me to give the book 4 stars, when I would surely have given it 5 as a more impressionable teenage reader. Still great, but unable to stand the test of time the way other books have.

Review by
5
The Grapes of Wrath opens with thick descriptions of the Dust Bowl of America, interwoven metaphors alongside descriptions of the folk attempting to make a living and keep a sense self there, alongside loving descriptions of the very earth itself. It is only after drawing the reader to empathise with the small landowners, with the families, with the Joad family in particular and their way of life and their way of relating to other people, that the slow-burning horror of the situation comes to a head and forces them off their land. It is Steinbeck's notion of pace - not pushing too quickly but allowing the reader to fall in love with the land as though they themselves were the cultivators striving to keep unbroken that chain of succession, that feeling of belonging to the land as it belongs to them, which makes this book a 'classic'. The Joads must flee, escaping hunger and seeking a new place to call a home in sunny California, known to them from glossy magazines showing white painted houses and ripe oranges. As history tells us, that is not what these desperate migrants found.This story is not just about one family, it is about all families who were driven from their land in the Dust Bowl leading to and during the Great Depression. Steinbeck dips into the wider arc of the story, using short chapters dotted between the tale of the Joads to show that their story was indeed the story of all. The Grapes of Wrath is many things, it is a political tract, it is a deep examination of the concept of the American family of that time, it is an explanation of economics, it is a lush description of the Dust Bowl and of California, it is a crushing indictment of the state's response to a humanitarian crisis. Riding high through these messages are those speaking of the power of humanity to push through crisis; of the ability of folk to pull together, the poor helping the poor.Today, it is often difficult to view the Great Depression as anything other than a historical event like any other children learn of in school. However reading the papers, catching the news, looking at the situation faced by many people around the world and indeed in America, we can see that The Grapes of Wrath is still vital. This is not just a snapshot of one time lost forever, the danger faced by families unable to support themselves due to the push of big business is ever present. Here is a book that can teach us lessons, make us laugh, and make us cry.
Review by
5

A very moving piece of work which is very well structured. The great depression in America is a topic which I didn’t know very much about. The story of the Joad family’s journey across to California to find work is one of survival and determination. Steinbeck captures the desperation and despair of the situation perfectly and I felt really dragged into the hopelessness the characters experienced. It’s extremely difficult to imagine what people went through at this time, but reading this book has made me think about it quite a lot.The main story of the characters is interspersed with more poetic observations on the time by the author. These help break up the story and helped to reiterate that this was a situation which affected more than just one family.I found the manipulation of the desperate migrants by the large corporations to be quite disturbing, a sad reflection upon the human capacity for greed without thinking of the consequences. This is nicely counterbalanced by the generosity of the migrants towards one another, sharing food and helping each other out. Their generosity is even more pronounced as they are living hand to mouth and have little to spare. There are many lessons which can be taken from reading this book and they still apply to the present day.I will definitely be looking into the authors catalogue as the writing style and content of the book were superb. The book is not sweetness and light, but it does have a lot to say on human spirit and compassion.

  Previous  |  Next

Also in the Penguin Modern Classics series   |  View all