The Grapes of Wrath

Furore (The Grapes of Wrath) is a novel by John Steinbeck. Published on April 14, 1939 in New York, it is considered the masterpiece of the American writer, Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1962. Bestseller number 1 in 1939 and 1940 in the USA, selling a total of 4 and a half million hardcover copies, yielded to the author $ 75,000 at the time. Many consider Furore (awarded just after the National Book Award, in 1940 with the Pulitzer Prize and an American Booksellers Book of the Year Award) the novel symbol of the great American depression of the 1930s.

«And the eyes of the poor reflect, with the sadness of defeat, a growing fury. The fruits of fury ripen in the hearts of the humble and the time of the harvest is approaching. „

The story narrates the epic of the ‚biblical‘ transmigration of the Joad family, who is forced to abandon their farm in Oklahoma on board a truck and – through the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona, along Route 66 – to try to settle in California, where he hopes to rebuild his future. In the same situation there are hundreds of other families, evicted from the houses where they had lived for generations because the banks to which they had asked for loans do not renew the credits and confiscate the land by sending the „tractors“ to level everything, including wooden houses.

«I repeat to you that the bank is something more than a human being. It is the monster. Men did it, yes, but men cannot keep it under control.

The story begins with Tom, who has just been released on parole with a special prison permit – where he has already served four of the seven years he was sentenced to for killing a man who had stabbed him. He returns home through a landscape desolate by aridity and torrential rains which ruin yet another harvest and which herald the impending misery. With his family, he decided to abandon Oklahoma to try his luck in the West. They embark on a long journey aboard a truck along Route 66 towards California, after reading a job search flyer.
To make the trip are three generations of which the mother, who is the true soul of the family group, tries positively to spread serenity on everyone and when her son Al asks her, at the beginning of the trip:

„“ Mum, don’t you have a bad feeling? Aren’t you afraid of going to a place you don’t know? „
Mum’s eyes went thoughtful but sweet.
„Fear? A little. But a little. I don’t want to think, I prefer to wait. I’ll do what I have to do ..

his response is calm and reassuring.
In addition to the mother, Al and the protagonist Tom, the young bride Rosasharn (Rose of Sharon), waiting for a child, are part of the family group, with her husband Connie, the older brother Noah, the twelve-year-old sister Ruth and the younger brother Winfield a ten-year-old ex-preacher found by Tom and now attached to the family named Casy often absorbed in philosophical thoughts about the human condition, dad, uncle John and old grandparents who won’t come to see California.
During the long and exhausting journey they meet other families of emigrants and occasionally camps to finally reach the threshold of California.

„And finally the jagged spiers of the western wall of Arizona appeared on the horizon … and when the day came, the Joads finally saw, in the plain below, the Colorado River … Father exclaimed:“ Here we are! We are in California! „. Everyone turned back to look at the majestic Arizona ramparts they left behind.

But the happiness of having arrived will not last long because California is not the country they had dreamed of but a place, at least for them, of misery.
Meanwhile, fate seems to be raging against the Joads: Tom, due to a tragic fatality, kills the policeman who killed Casy during a strike and is forced to flee, a flood arrives just when they finally had found a job with a decent salary and at the end Rosasharn abandoned by her husband, she gives birth to a dead child. The novel ends with an image of courage and solidarity of Rosasharn, who just after giving birth suckles a poor man exhausted from hunger.



7 Kommentare

  1. A great book. Also the Hollywood movie version of Grapes of Wrath with Henry Fonda and Linda Darnell is a great one. Woody Guthrie told the story in one long song. I just did So Long it’s Been Good to Know Ya on my blog.


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