#20 The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Cover of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simply put, I am not a fan of Steinbeck.

Our very first encounter was when my 5th grade class had to read The Red Pony. Here’s everything I remember about the book:

  • It is around 100 pages long, divided into four roughly equal chapters.
  • In Chapter One, the protagonist—a ten-year-old boy named Jody—receives a red pony. And then it dies.
  • Jody spends the other three chapters whining, mostly about horses.
  • Eventually he gets ANOTHER PONY, a colt this time, because WHY NOT.

Is this where the trope of the child-begging-for-a-pony began? Let’s say YES.

The Grapes of Wrath is the perfect book to leave on your nightstand and read only when you’re trying to put yourself to sleep. It’s a story about the most boring road trip by the most boring family in the fictional history of the U.S.A. It’s a story about how everything sucks, and just when you think it might stop sucking, it comes along and kicks you right in the suck. And then you default on your loans and die. It’s also a story about how California may SEEM COOL, but it is actually NOT COOL, so do not fall for this. It is a TRICK.

I was, like everyone, thoroughly disturbed when the novel concluded with the image of an adult male breastfeeding a woman in a barn after she gives birth to a stillborn baby. I do not care what that is supposed to symbolize. This is NOT an OK ending to 300 pages of wandering through dusty flatlands in the western United States.

Is it one of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time? 

Are you kidding? It’s like the longest game of Oregon Trail you ever played. And right at the end when you think you’re going to win, your oxen drown, and you die slowly of snakebites and dysentery.

Favorite Quotes:

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.

They fought over everything, and loved and needed the fighting.

The people in flight from the terror behind—strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever.

If I was God, I’d kick their ass right outa heaven!

Ever’body’s askin’ that. ‘What we comin’ to?’ Seems to me we don’t never come to nothin’. Always on the way.

Read: 2005

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6 thoughts on “#20 The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

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