The Grapes of Wrath follows a migrant family from the 1930's that are forced to leave the farm they work on in Oklahoma and head for California because of the great depression. On their journey the family realise that tens of thousands of people from all over the southern great plains have also been forced from their homes and the sheer numbers of people are saturating any available jobs in California. Once they do eventually reach California the family finds hostile locals, exploitation, prejudice and starvation.
I have read a few reviews and many people either mention or complain that The Grapes of Wrath will grind you down. I would agree to an extent, the hopelessness of the family’s situation and the endless relentlessness of trying to find work and their next meal after 500 pages can wear a reader down. But this is no bad thing, this really happened to people and it would have left perhaps a bad taste in my mouth if Steinbeck had tried to make this terrible situation somehow more uplifting just to make it more palatable for a lot more readers. While the Grapes of Wrath is very much in parts a social commentary I feel it is a commentary which is relevant today.
Most of the novel is written from the family’s point of view but then Steinbeck will stick in a chapter telling a more overall picture and putting the events into context so in a way the reader becomes more informed than the family on their own hardships and situation.
This is the kind of novel that is worth the read in the end as it is the overall fight for survival rather than the individual characters and events that will stay with you. Brilliantly written and recommended.Verdict 5/5
Posted by Jess