Book #39: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

I finished reading my grandfather’s 1955 copy of The Grapes of Wrath around 11:00 last night, but even 10 hours later I’m feeling a bit muddled about my thoughts on the book.

This was my second Steinbeck read, having read Of Mice and Men last summer after seeing the play on Broadway. The lengths of these two books is pretty drastically different; I think my copy of Of Mice and Men is just over 100 pages, which The Grapes of Wrath is 619 pages. I’ve spent a few weeks working my way through this one, and now I don’t quite know how to feel since I finished.

Though this is obviously a well-known story, here’s a quick blurb about the book: the Joad family, left in poverty in Oklahoma in the midst of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, embark on a cross country journey to California, where they’ve heard they can find work. If only things were that easy.

The Grapes of Wrath has always been an important work in my family because my grandfather wrote his thesis on the book while in seminary in the 1950s. Though he died when I was nearly four years old, I felt a certain kinship with him in reading his own annotated copy of the book.

I imagine tonight I’ll be watching the film adaptation of this novel, which is a classic in its own way. My mom takes issue with the film’s ending, though, so we’ll also be watching a filmed version of the stage play sometime soon.

Though I have plenty of other reading to look forward to (one of the many joys in life, I’d say), it’s both satisfying and a little sad to put another American classic in my rearview.


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