I’m Back!

2 May

I know, I know. It’s been a while. I probably deserve a slap on the wrist for being a poor blogger. Unfortunately, I’ve also been a poor reader during the past few weeks. I haven’t stopped reading altogether, but I also haven’t finished any books. I recently began teaching my final unit of the school year – To Kill a Mockingbird. Every year, I reread the chapters as I assign them to my students. I never get tired of reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Ever. I have grown so attached to the characters that, at times, they feel like friends or members of my family. I despise Bob Ewell. I pity Mayella. I laugh every time Scout thinks up another reason why she should no longer attend school. I don’t just read Harper Lee’s writing. I feel it. And for that reason, I look forward to rereading it every year. (Perhaps I’ll have to dedicate a future blog post to my love for Mockingbird …)

While I’m thankful to have another opportunity to reread an old favorite, it’s disappointing when I don’t have time to devote to current reading. I put The Grapes of Wrath on the back burner for a while, but I’m back at it. And, oh, how I’m enjoying it! I mentioned my love for Steinbeck’s writing style in a previous post, and I continue to be enamored! I love the way Steinbeck has organized The Grapes of Wrath. The novel narrates the story of the Joad family as they leave their home in Oklahoma to look for employment in California. Woven through the story of the Joad family’s journey, Steinbeck devotes chapters to lovely descriptions of the Depression era. As I mentioned before, Steinbeck’s style is lyrical and poetic. It is also deeply moving. As I read today, this passage took my breath away. It describes the way in which travelers on their way to California are united by both their painful pasts and visions for a better future:

“Because they were lonely and perplexed, because they were all going to a new mysterious place, they huddled together; they talked together; they shared their lives, their food, and the things they hoped for in the new country.”

Steinbeck’s sympathetic portrayal of the plight of farmers during the Great Depression creates empathy within the reader. I don’t just feel sorry for the Joad family. I worry about them. I share in their victories and failures. I care about each member of the family. At this point, I’m about halfway through the novel. It is taking me a while to work my way through the book, but I am enjoying every minute of the experience!

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