The Grapes of Wrath Quotes

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The Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
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The Grapes of Wrath Quotes (showing 1-30 of 198)
“There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past?”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing.' . . . . I says, 'What's this call, this sperit?' An' I says, 'It's love. I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes.' . . . . I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; maybe that's the Holy Sperit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.' Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a suddent-I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes it'll on'y be one.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in hisself, there ain't no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an' maybe he's disappointed that nothin' he can do 'll make him feel rich.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Sure, cried the tenant men,but it’s our land…We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours….That’s what makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it."

"We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man."

"Yes, but the bank is only made of men."

"No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create - this is man.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“And this you can know- fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“The Western States nervous under the beginning change.
Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, New Mexico,
Arizona, California. A single family moved from the land.
Pa borrowed money from the bank, and now the bank wants
the land. The land company--that's the bank when it has land
--wants tractors, not families on the land. Is a tractor bad? Is
the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor
were ours it would be good--not mine, but ours. If our tractor
turned the long furrows of our land, it would be good.
Not my land, but ours. We could love that tractor then as
we have loved this land when it was ours. But the tractor
does two things--it turns the land and turns us off the land.
There is little difference between this tractor and a tank.
The people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think
about this.

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car
creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a
single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered.
And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another
family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat
on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the
node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these
two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each
other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the
zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split
and from its splitting grows the thing you hate--"We lost our
land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and
perplexed as one. And from this first "we" there grows a still
more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have
none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little
food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction.
Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are
ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-
meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women;
behind, the children listening with their souls to words their
minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby
has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my mother's
blanket--take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb.
This is the beginning--from "I" to "we."

If you who own the things people must have could understand
this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate
causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx,
Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive.
But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes
you forever into "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we."

The Western States are nervous under the begining
change. Need is the stimulus to concept, concept to action.
A half-million people moving over the country; a million
more restive, ready to move; ten million more feeling the
first nervousness.

And tractors turning the multiple furrows in the vacant land.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“They's times when how you feel got to be kep' to yourself.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“You got a God. Don't make no difference if you don' know what he looks like.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“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.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Women can change better’n a man,” Ma said soothingly. “Woman got all her life in her arms. Man got it all in his head.”
“Man, he lives in jerks-baby born an’ a man dies, an’ that’s a jerk-gets a farm and looses his farm, an’ that’s a jerk. Woman, its all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that. We ain’t gonna die out. People is goin’ on-changin’ a little, maybe, but goin’ right on.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning—from "I" to "we". If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I", and cuts you off forever from the "we". ”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, and emerges ahead of his accomplishments.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“The bank - the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“And her joy was nearly like sorrow.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“He drank too much when he could get it, ate too much when it was there, talked too much all the time.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Then it don' matter. Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where - wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an' - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build, why, I'll be there.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“This you may say of man - when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
“Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank - or the Company - needs - wants - insists - must have - as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You've scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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