The Grapes of Wrath: First Reading Challenge Book

15 May

The situation is grim for the Joad family. As sharecroppers in Oklahoma, the Joads have devoted their lives to cultivating the land. Yet the onset of the Dust Bowl and the industrialization of agriculture threaten their livelihoods. After reading a handbill announcing the abundance of jobs waiting in the fields of California, the family begins their journey west. Each member of the Joad family looks forward to California for different reasons – Ma dreams of owning a home where she can care for her family; Al hopes to use his mechanical abilities to fix cars in a garage; Rose of Sharon and Connie dream of raising their baby where it will never know hunger. Their optimism is soon shattered, however, by the reality of life as an “Okie.” Despised by farmers and other migrant workers, Okies must accept deplorable living conditions and meager wages to simply survive.

The Grapes of Wrath is the story of one family’s struggle for survival. Although they are fictional, the Joads represent thousands of people displaced by the Dust Bowl. Steinbeck’s account of life as an Okie during the Great Depression left me speechless. I fell in love with the characters almost instantly and grew more attached to them during their journey. I felt their triumphs and failures; I cheered for them in their darkest moments; I breathed a sigh of relief every time they were able to make ends meet. The Joads left an impression on my heart and will not soon be forgotten.

This is the first book I finished for Dana Huff’s “Books I Should’ve Read in High School, But Didn’t” reading challenge. I believe every person should read this book; however, I think I appreciated it more as an adult than I would have as a student. Some of the descriptions of agricultural life were difficult to wade through, and I suspect I would have given up if I had read this in high school. In addition,  I believe I had more sympathy for the characters as an adult than I would have when I was younger. As a new mother, I felt myself drawn to the strength and compassion of Ma Joad. She has easily become one of my favorite literary characters. Finishing The Grapes of Wrath is a bittersweet experience – I am glad to have read it, but I am sad that I must say goodbye to the Joads.

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One Response to “The Grapes of Wrath: First Reading Challenge Book”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Teaser Tuesdays: Another Bit from The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet « Beautifully Alive: My Life in Books - May 17, 2011

    […] finally finished reading The Grapes of Wrath this week. Loved it! You can read my review here. This week I also started reading The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen. I am smitten! […]

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