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The Grapes of Wrath
Transcript of The Grapes of Wrath
Laura Clift Recommendation
Based on the data collected from the survey, I would recommend the book if you were interested in the time period in which The Grapes of Wrath takes place. According to three graphs, the book was easy to read but it didn’t have a clear beginning or ending. The reader learns a lot about the differences of social classes, the culture of the time, and of the lives of the people trying to escape the Dust Bowl to California. Although the story follows one family, it is also a mixture of all the families in that situation. It is heavy with symbolism, detailed descriptions, and a brutally honest portrayal of the people. Five out of six people said that it helped them understand more about the specific time period of the novel. If you’d like to know more about this time in American history, I would recommend The Grapes of Wrath. I chose 'I Should Care' by Nat King Cole to represent Steinbeck’s reaction to his critics because he was basically indifferent. He surely appreciated the good responses and wanted his book to be interesting and have an impact one the public. However, when it came to critics picking apart and inspecting the morality of his book, he simply didn’t care. Steinbeck stated in A Letter on Criticism to “Just read it, don’t count it!” Choice of Music Rebecca Hinton
Hinton analyzes the aspects of a family as a unit in her study of The Grapes of Wrath. The transition of many families who moved from being farmers in Oklahoma to nomad laborers in California was a drastic change. She states that as the book progresses, the Joad family cannot simply stay as one unit but their family must expand to include members related by situation as well as blood. The Joad’s fellow migrants also show this trait of sympathy and generosity. To survive, the travelers as a group have to work together and fight for each other as a family.
The gradual change of roles in the family is also discussed by Hinton. Before their journey, the father is the head of the house and makes all of the important decisions. As the story progresses, however, the mother takes leadership. Hinton concludes that Steinbeck’s intentions were to show that the migrants could only survive if they worked together, took the lead when needed, and treated everyone as a part of their family. Richard Henry
Richard Henry’s “Overview of The Grapes of Wrath”, after a brief section on the author’s past novels and explanation of the book compares the book to both past and present. He states that the book is divided into three sections, the Joads getting ready to leave their home, their journey away from the Dust Bowl, and finally their new lives in California. Henry declares in many the great Dust Bowl Migration mirrors the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan in the Old Testament. The Dust Bowl’s drought matches Egypt’s plagues, and both in turn caused many thousands of people to take a journey to a “promised land.”
He also believes the novel is still relevant in present times due to the distinct separation of classes. It also compares through the victimization of other races and nationalities. He’s saying that The Grapes of Wrath is timeless, even if its characters are firmly rooted in the setting of the 1930’s. However, the novel’s basic themes can relate to people in the past present and future. Howard Levant
Howard Levant’s “The Novels of John Steinbeck: A Critical Study” mainly discusses the uses of characterization within The Grapes of Wrath. He states that the Joads are individualized either by events or through them. The least important Joads are given specific traits that are parts of events. Such as Grandpa’s strength that ends when he leaves his home and Grandma’s burial that goes against her strong religious views. However, the main characters that the story centers around are defined by the events that occur. Such as Tom becoming the moral conscience of the family throughout their journey.
Levant goes on to compare the Joad’s characters with four types of Okie personalities. They are the stubborn, the dead, the weak, and the backtrackers. He states that Muley Graves is stubborn because he just won’t leave Oklahoma, and since everyone else had left, the loneliness drove him wild. Levant says that the grandparents and unborn child of Rose of Sharon as he deaths that frame the novel. The weak are Noah and Connie because they both left the family for very different reasons, but with the same intentions of not returning. The backtrackers are some of the people they met on the road who stopped for sickness and death, contrasting the Joad’s strength as a family to move on in the face of tragedy. Christopher Isherwood
Isherwood compares the Dust Bowl Migration to all of the other migrations and disappointing “promised lands” in history. He’s basically calling it a cycle, one of which readers can see a small part of in The Grapes of Wrath. He briefly moves through the story of the Joads, focusing on the hardships, deaths, and desertions. Although, Isherwood states that the story doesn’t end at the last page of the book. He says that the story will keep going as long as such misery is still on this earth.
Isherwood calls Steinbeck a “master of realistic writing.” However, he believes that in the story, Steinbeck is voicing his opinion too loudly and is not giving the reader a chance to form their own impressions. He says that this is something that scars the novel, despite the great story. Isherwood classifies The Grapes of Wrath as a “milestone in American fiction”, but he doesn’t think it shows the entire author’s potential. Malcolm Cowley
Cowley praises the first half of the novel, saying that it had been “sorrowful, bitter, [and] intensely moving.” However, the second half wasn’t as remarkable. It seems that after their journey to California was over, their confusion as to California’s lack of work causes the story to downfall from there. He liked it better when they were strong and had a plan, but when their hopes were dashed the whole novel suffered.
Despite this, Cowley says that readers will forget the problems in the story. What stays with you is the raw sympathy Steinbeck shows towards the migrants. Not pity or love, because that would imply he put himself above them or glazed over their faults. He calls it one of the “great angry novels” that inspire people to fight against the wrongdoing in the world. Warren French
Among other works by John Steinbeck, French discusses The Grapes of Wrath. He shortly summarizes the story, but mainly focuses on the characters growth throughout the novel. He says that compared to other books by Steinbeck, the characters of The Grapes of Wrath have changed from victims to strong people who can work together and figure out their problems.