Karla Keffer

The Grapes of Wrath

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 at 8:28 am

grapes of wrath

Doesn’t matter if you know the ending. There’s a whole book in front of it, and it’s awesome, and devastating. But most of you probably already knew that.

If we’d read this in high school, I might have actually enjoyed it even then. Alas, ’twas not to be, for the book discusses both sex and Communism in rather frank detail, thereby promoting both.

I heart John Steinbeck now, and that makes me feel smart(er)(ish)(esque). How in god’s name did I ever get an MFA? Pathetic.

  1. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not a fan of Steinbeck or this book. I blame high school English, as this is what I spent my summer reading. I found it too long, too preachy, and too terrible to enjoy.

    I recently reread this text in an Environmental Lit class, which was interesting in giving me a reader lens to focus on the land, the ways man comes into contact with the land, the animals (I loved the dogs), etc. So if you ever give this another read, I’d recommend coming into it with that angle. It gave me, a non-appreciater, somewhat of a greater appreciation for it.

    My #1 problem with the book is the ending. I won’t give it away here, but I’ll confess to you that this is in fact one of my greatest gross-outs/phobias ever. I don’t like seeing this anywhere. It freaks me out. I don’t care if it works on any symbolic level. It makes me gag.

    • Maybe it’s good that we didn’t read this in high school! I would have gagged at the symbolism of the ending, which I wasn’t even thinking about when I read it.

      I guess TGOW is preachy, but I’m such a Pete Seeger Lefty that it didn’t bother me. 🙂

  2. I had to read it in 9th Grade. I hated Steinbeck. I couldn’t fathom why someone would write a chapter about a tortoise crossing the road. He repeatedly got away with use of run-on sentences and one sentence paragraph! After seeing this, I thought I would put that knowledge to good use and the next time I got marked down because of a run-on sentence I would point out that John Steinbeck won a Nobel and he uses them.
    She said, “When you win a Nobel, I won’t mark you down for them.”
    It was then that I became John Steinbeck’s bratty younger sister. I refused to pick up anything he wrote of my own free will.
    Then Cannery Row got me hooked.
    He is my spirtual godfather. I believe he sent his wife once to cheer me up. She did. And when I got lost (thanks to mapquest) enroute to his boyhood home from Monterey, he was my co-pilot. “Something” gave me a strong urge to turn right, and I did, on a two lane road that went through 3 small farm towns and then the back way into Salinas.
    I don’t dare mess with the Steinbeck anymore.
    He is mighty.

    And yes the ending of The Grapes of Wrath is a disturbing that hasn’t left me.
    Symbolism is there and I like that it didn’t soften the blow.

  3. Well, speaking of that frickin’ turtle, here’s a link that discusses that very thing: http://www.shmoop.com/grapes-of-wrath/symbolism-imagery.html

    It did cross my mind many times that if Steinbeck were trying to publish in this day and age, they’d make him trim the turtle stuff down to a paragraph or so.

    So the dead baby is supposed to be Moses, and Rose of Sharon is…who? Mary? Jesus? Mother Earth? Was this Steinbeck’s intent or was it unconscious?

    I said a similar thing to my 12th grade English teacher when he marked me off for not using commas (Gertrude Stein didn’t use them, ergo…). He smiled and said, “You’re not Gertrude Stein.” I took mock umbrage and we laughed.

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