Stephanie's Reviews > The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
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May 17, 13

bookshelves: 2012, classics, favorites
Read from August 05 to 15, 2012

If you are an American you need to read The Grapes of Wrath. It scares the poop out of me because, my fellow Americans, we are repeating history. If live anywhere else read it as well as a guide for what not to do.

In the Grapes of Wrath Mr. Steinbeck tells the tale of the first great depression through the Joad family from Oklahoma, who has been displaced from their family farm through no fault of their own. You see, there was a big bad drought which made farming impossible. In those days the family farm fed the family and what they had left over they sold. But when the drought hit the only thing that would grow was cotton, you can’t eat cotton, and that crop sucked the life right out of the soil so no other crop could grow in it for a very long time.

“These things were lost, and crops were reckoned in dollars, and land was valued by principal plus interest, and crops were bought and sold before they were planted. Then crop failure, drought, and flood were no longer little deaths within life, but simple losses of money. And all their love was thinned with money, and all their fierceness dribbled away in interest until they were no longer farmers at all, but little shopkeepers of crops, little manufacturers who must sell before they can make. Then those farmers who were not good shopkeepers lost their land to good shopkeepers. No matter how clever, how loving a man might be with earth and growing things, he could not survive if he were not also a good shopkeeper. And as time went on, the business men had the farms, and the farms grew larger, but there were fewer of them.”

Some guys with a lot of cash came along and bought up all the struggling family farms and leased the land back to the former family farmers and when they couldn’t produce, the new Owners kicked the families out of their homes. Put them on the streets, children and elderly and all……..who cares, right? Poor people are less than.

From California came hand bills, pamphlets promising jobs and urging the homeless to drag their whole lives via barely moving junk heaps to the golden state where grapes grew in bunches by the side of the road. What choice did they have? They drove across deserts and mountains, losing loved ones along the way, they answered those hand bills in droves. What else could they do?

What happened when they got to California? They didn’t get jobs, they got ridicule. They were called Okies and shitheals and were looked down upon. “How can they live like that?” The people with money would ask, as if being poor was a choice. As if they were just lazy and all it would take to get out of poverty was to get a job……but there were no fucking jobs. The owners sent out more handbills then they needed to. Why? Because the more men begging for a job the less the owners would have to pay them. Supply and demand. The greedy sons a bitches wanted to pay as little as possible, and that is exactly what they did. The Okies did not have a union of course.

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on.”

Who are the “great owners” today? The Walton family (of Walmart), six of them, have the same amount of money as the bottom 40% of Americans. That is 124,720,000 people, people. $93 billion…..BILLION and they want more, more money than could be spent in several lifetimes. They don’t need it all, but the rest of America does. Do you think the Walton’s might have an interest in keeping people poor? Go check out who’s in that store at 3am.

Let’s also take a look at who is running against President Obama. Mittens is so rich that he doesn’t even know what a doughnut is, and he’s fighting for the Waltons and all of the 1 %. He’s so rich he thinks he is entitled to the office and “us people” do not need to see his tax returns……the nerve of us, move on. We need to sit down, shut up, and stop asking questions because he, being a rich bastard, is an “owner” and we should know our place. Not bloody likely.

“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won’t all be poor. Pray God some day a kid can eat.
And the associations of owners knew that some day the praying would stop.

And there’s the end.”



Also posted at Shelfinflicted

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 74) (74 new)


Trudi Is this a re-read Stephanie, or were you a "Grapes virgin"? ;)


Stephanie If I read it it was so long ago I forgot it, but don't think I did.


Trudi It's so flipping fantastic, isn't it? Can't wait for your review.


Stephanie Agreed... Review to come tonight I hope.


s.penkevich GREAT review, you really make a good case for why this book is still important today. I remember reading this and In Dubious Battle back to back a few summers ago. It really got me fired up, it was hard to be at work and not think 'ya know, a good old fashion Steinbeck strike would be fun today' haha.


Stephanie s.penkevich wrote: "GREAT review, you really make a good case for why this book is still important today. I remember reading this and In Dubious Battle back to back a few summers ago. It really got me fired up, it was..."

Thank you!


Nandakishore Varma I read this at the same time I read Atlas Shrugged... when I was down with viral fever in my teens. Talk about irony!

BTW, according to the GOP, the stories of the Great Depression are exaggerated propaganda.


Stephanie Nandakishore wrote: "I read this at the same time I read Atlas Shrugged... when I was down with viral fever in my teens. Talk about irony!

BTW, according to the GOP, the stories of the Great Depression are exaggerate..."


Of course they are. The GOP are the owners, they have to lie like that.


Trudi I've always been too intimidated to take this one on in a review. You've done an awesome job Stephanie. You've made me want to do a re-read :)


message 10: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary Fantastic and timely review!


Stephanie Trudi wrote: "I've always been too intimidated to take this one on in a review. You've done an awesome job Stephanie. You've made me want to do a re-read :)"

Thank you, I was intimidated for sure....but I had so much to say.


Stephanie Mary wrote: "Fantastic and timely review!"

Thanks!


Steve Sckenda This book taught me compassion. I first read this book in the 11th grade. I then re-read in college and again about ten years ago. My eyes were opened. I appreciate your great review.


Stephanie Steve wrote: "This book taught me compassion. I first read this book in the 11th grade. I then re-read in college and again about ten years ago. My eyes were opened. I appreciate your great review."

Thank you Steve, that means a lot to me.


message 15: by David (last edited Aug 18, 2012 02:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Katzman Here, here!

Let them eat cake


Stephanie David wrote: "Here, here!


Ha!

"



message 17: by Lewis (new) - added it

Lewis Weinstein Great review. Some issues never change. History teaches that when a democracy cannot or will not deal fairly with all of its citizens, frustrated and angry people are tempted to seek other alternatives, which always seems to make things much worse. I have nothing against people getting wealthy, but there needs to be a balance, and we have lost that balance in the U.S. today.


Stephanie Lewis wrote: "Great review. Some issues never change. History teaches that when a democracy cannot or will not deal fairly with all of its citizens, frustrated and angry people are tempted to seek other alternat..."

Thanks Lewis, and I agree.


message 19: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary Great review Stephanie. Lessons to be learned....


Stephanie Gary wrote: "Great review Stephanie. Lessons to be learned...."

Thank you!


message 21: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten Awesome review Stephanie. We are on the brink of our next migration if Mittens is elected.


message 22: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Superb review, Stephanie. Still wondering here how the Recession is over when unemployment still rises and those American's living below the poverty level has increased to its highest percentage in fifty years.

Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on ‘Lost Decade’
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: September 13, 2011
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WASHINGTON — Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/us/...

Your review of this iconic novel illustrates its lasting relevance. I'd love to see you review In Dubious Battle.


message 23: by David (last edited Aug 20, 2012 03:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David Katzman This says it well: http://boingboing.net/2011/08/19/jon-...

(John Stewart addresses Warren Buffett's "socialism")


message 24: by Stephanie (last edited Aug 20, 2012 05:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephanie Jeffrey wrote: "Awesome review Stephanie. We are on the brink of our next migration if Mittens is elected."

Thanks Jeffrey. Not remotely possible, he's not even going to win his own state.


Stephanie Mike wrote: "Superb review, Stephanie. Still wondering here how the Recession is over when unemployment still rises and those American's living below the poverty level has increased to its highest percentage i..."

Thank you. That book is on my list. I'm currently reading The Rich And The Rest Of Us: A Poverty Manifesto! Which makes the argument that the middle class has been gone since the 70's.....we were fooling ourselves with easy credit.


Stephanie David wrote: "This says it well: http://boingboing.net/2011/08/19/jon-...

(John Stewart addresses Warren Buffett's "socialism")"


I love Jon Stewart.


David Katzman I heard Stephen Colbert read once--with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello from their novel Wigfield (which is hilarious, btw)--and I raised my hand and asked him how he felt about the fact that he and Jon Stewart were better journalists than most of the real journalists in America. He made a funny joke but then just said ... it was sad.


Stephanie David wrote: "I heard Stephen Colbert read once--with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello from their novel Wigfield (which is hilarious, btw)--and I raised my hand and asked him how he felt about the fact that he and J..."

And sooo true. You met Stephen Colbert? Fantastic.


David Katzman Yeah, it was a pretty small indie bookstore. He's just Iike you'd expect him to be in person.


message 30: by David (last edited Aug 28, 2012 04:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David Acevedo Stephanie: I think your review is spot on. We are reliving every single moment of this book in real life real time. I think literature has that power. And in that sense it's dangerous. No wonder the Government of my country has decided to withdraw money from arts and literature programs. Two weeks ago, we had a referendum in PR to amend the Puerto Rican Constitution in two ways: to limit the right to post bail and to reduce the number of lawmakers in the Legislature. The whole process gave me exterme bouts of déja vu and déja vecu. No wonder. I had read it all years ago in Gabriel García Márquez's and Isabel Allende's books. Weird shit.


message 31: by Stephanie (last edited Aug 28, 2012 03:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephanie David Caleb wrote: "Stephanie: I think your review is spot on. We are reliving every single moment of this book in real life real time. I think literature has that power. And in that sense it's dangerous. No wonder th..."

Thanks David! "Knowlege is power" what a true statement that is, and the powerful (the1%) don't want anyone else to get it. So it's no coincidence that the education budget in the US is cut yearly and higher education is priced out of reach for most people. They want to keep us stupid.

Another true statement....."history repeats itself."


Steve Sckenda I have read this book mulitipe times and each time it makes me a better, more compassionate person. I have not re-read since the economic collapse of 08 and the double year drought in Oklahoma. I bet this book would read as contemporary fiction. Of course, I love your politics, and I am glad that you are strategically placed in Ohio where it might do some good. You and your neighbors will decide whether we go completely to the dark side for 4 years. My vote for Obama will be cancelled out 3-1 by my conservative neighbors who vote the way they do because they believe that Jesus and God's will is to vote Republican. Same Bible? I ask. Perhaps they need to reread the Bible as we should all reread the Grapes of Wrath. We need to be better than this.


Stephanie Steve wrote: "I have read this book mulitipe times and each time it makes me a better, more compassionate person. I have not re-read since the economic collapse of 08 and the double year drought in Oklahoma. I b..."

Yeah.......no pressure :). The president is up 7 points in Ohio. After a debate or two mittens will be toast. We get so much attention here I wouldn't be surprised to see the president outside my door asking for my vote. But it is a VERY political atmospher here. I work on election day at the polls and you should see the board of election people come in and check who's voted. They get on the phone and call people who haven't voted and offer rides, it's a battle. The Rebuicans in this state are trying like all Hell to surpress the vote. They know their ideas suck and their only hope of winning is to keep democrats from voting. So un-American.


message 34: by Lola (new) - added it

Lola Rock on!


message 35: by A. (new)

A. How can one turn such a classic book into pro-Obama propaganda? People on the net never cease to amaze me.


Stephanie Aleksander wrote: "How can one turn such a classic book into pro-Obama propaganda? People on the net never cease to amaze me."

I am AMAZING! Thanks.


message 37: by A. (new)

A. Yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon around any election season in the US. There's always a bunch of reviews appearing from supporters from both major parties that try and apply the books' stories to modern times.


Stephanie Aleksander wrote: "Yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon around any election season in the US. There's always a bunch of reviews appearing from supporters from both major parties that try and apply the books' stories ..."

Yeah, but this does apply to our current situation. I live here, so I know. The Right/rich do hate the poor and want to make the rest of us poor so that they can have even more money. How much is enough? And this is still the case even after the election....even more so.

And that is that.


message 39: by Lola (new) - added it

Lola Aleksander wrote: "Yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon around any election season in the US. There's always a bunch of reviews appearing from supporters from both major parties that try and apply the books' stories ..."

Classics like The Grapes of Wrath are often applied to modern day because they still do apply. Human nature has not changed much since 1939. In fact, I don't believe it's ever really drastically changed since humanity started.

What's really changed? The clothes we wear? The technology we have? The rich still want to stay rich. The poor still don't want to be poor. Why shouldn't we compare classics to modern day? They're more relevant than we think.


Stephanie Lola wrote: "Aleksander wrote: "Yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon around any election season in the US. There's always a bunch of reviews appearing from supporters from both major parties that try and apply ..."

Thanks, well said.


message 41: by A. (new)

A. Lola wrote: "Aleksander wrote: "Yeah, it's an interesting phenomenon around any election season in the US. There's always a bunch of reviews appearing from supporters from both major parties that try and apply ..."

Never said they don't apply. It's the political fighting and party loyalty in the reviews (and the related comments) that those like me find quite funny.


Stephanie Aleksander wrote: "Never said they don't apply. It's the political fighting and party loyalty in the reviews (and the related comments) that those like me find quite funny.
..."


I see what you're getting at now. From a distance much of America must be quite hilarious, but it's not funny those who have to live with these crazy people in politics who would destroy the lives of the very people they work for....for some kind of political gain or personal ideology.

nut jobs!


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

This is the dumbest review I have ever read.


Stephanie John wrote: "This is the dumbest review I have ever read."

Thanks troll! I'm number one! I'm number one! Not only do I have the dumbest review you've ever read but as far as I can tell, the first and only one you've read to date.

This 'John' is not the way to win friends and influence people.

Go away.


message 45: by Lola (new) - added it

Lola John wrote: "This is the dumbest review I have ever read."

And clearly, this is the dumbest response to a review I have ever read. If you're going to hate on a review, at least come up with a good insult. Geez... ;)


Stephanie Lola wrote: "John wrote: "This is the dumbest review I have ever read."

And clearly, this is the dumbest response to a review I have ever read. If you're going to hate on a review, at least come up with a good..."


I know......right?


Autumn Hi Stephanie,

I thought your review for this book was excellent! I love John Steinbeck. If you liked this, I wonder if you read or liked In Dubious Battle. I loved that book! And it's also very applicable to the Walmart-dominated culture we are living in, where exploitation of people is big business. The thing I liked about In Dubious Battle is that it demonstrates whatever side a person is on, there's always a "top dog" or upper echelon and there's always a lower, expendable layer of people.
Cheers,
Autumn


Stephanie Autumn wrote: "Hi Stephanie,

I thought your review for this book was excellent! I love John Steinbeck. If you liked this, I wonder if you read or liked In Dubious Battle. I loved that book! And it's also very a..."


Hi Autumn,

Thanks for the kind words. I have not read In Dubious Batle, but I do plan to. and I'll let you know my thoughts when I do.


Stephanie Jared wrote: ""The Right/rich do hate the poor and want to make the rest of us poor so that they can have even more money." This quote tells me you really don't know or understand your enemy. Do you really think..."

Enemy? No enemy....

I never said all conservatives are rich, but 99.999% are 'Republican'.......most of those are not conservative in the least.


Stephanie Do you remember the Bush administration? Or do you have short term memory loss?

They nearly ruined the economy, that is not conservative.

'Speaking for myself at least, I firmly believe conservatism helps everyone, rich and poor alike.'

HA! Where's the evidence of this? I've seen this in the real world........

Go away now Jared, you bore me.


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