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#171476 - Fri May 09 2003 11:02 AM "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
TabbyTom Offline
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Who wants to start the ball rolling?
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#171477 - Fri May 09 2003 05:04 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
fjohn Offline
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[Insert picture of rolling ball here] John Steinbeck won Pulitzer for Grapes of Wrath in 1940. Most of his books were about the American farmer, "Pastures of Heaven," "To a God Unknown," "Tortilla Flat," "In Dubious Battle," "Of Mice and Men."
If this was a Book of the Month Club selection, it must have been in the early '40's...wasn't it? Or are you refering to "The Wrath of Grapes," a companion piece by a wino that Steinbeck befriended during his years at Stanford?
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#171478 - Sat May 10 2003 03:03 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Great to see some new blood in here, fjohn!

I've seen the film, many years ago, but I'm going to love this book. Steinbeck sets the scene for us so perfectly in the first chapter.

The crops withering and dying in the fields, the soil gradually drying, baking, crusting and cracking. Women standing steadfastly alongside their menfolk, "studied the men's faces secretly . . .. to feel whether this time the men would break", looking for signs that their men would summon the strength and determination to weather yet another disastrous setback. "After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant", showing that same grit and defiant determination their forefathers, the early settlers, were renowned for.

He knows these people and shows such great understanding of them and the affinity they feel with the land they love. He recognises that it's the anger which fuels the fire and sparks the resilience in them, but the group strength their community spirit manages to muster in times of great hardship, which will pull them through.


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#171479 - Sat May 10 2003 03:50 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
ren33 Offline
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Yes Izzi, that first chapter is breathtaking! I felt thirsty just reading it.Such language!
I found an interesting interview with Steinbeck in my version
Look
Q: Why did you choose the theme of migration from the dust bowl to California as the theme for a novel?

Ä: Well, whether a writer knows it or not, or wants it or not, he simply sets down what the people of his own time are doing,thinking,wanting. He can't help that. It is all the writer knows. I have set down what a large section of our people are doing and wanting, and symbolically, what all people of all time are doing and wanting. This migration is the outward sign of the want.

Q: And what, in all time, are people doing and wanting?

A: They use different symbols in different times, but universally, people want comfort and security and out of these, a relationship with one another. In the growth of our country, the symbol of these things was new land. That was the security. The writer sets down the desire of his own time, the action of the people towards attaining that desire,, the obstacles to attainment and the struggle to overcome the obstacles.
The whole interview is worth a read
I cannot find it on line , but will put more of it later it is very telling .
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#171480 - Sat May 10 2003 07:07 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
LindaC007 Offline
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Inside the cover of the copy I have, it lists the first publication as 1939.

Ren, John Steinbeck really had a wonderful way with words. It really just seems so rare today to find an author whose words really are satisfying to read. So many books are like eating empty calories--cotton candy instead of a nice, big steak.

I thought everybody would enjoy this. In the Introduction of my copy, it says that about three weeks after starting "The Grapes of Wrath", John Steinbeck wrote in his journal (posthumously published as "Working Days"):

'If I could do this book properly it would be one of the really fine books and a truly American book. But I am assailed with my own ignorance and inability. I'll just have to work from a background of these. Honestly. If I can keep an honesty it is all I can expect of my poor brain...If I can do that it will be all my lack of genius can produce. For no one else knows my lack of ability the way I do. I am pushing against it all the time."
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#171481 - Tue May 13 2003 01:30 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
SillyLily Offline
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I have been a fan of Steinbeck ever since I read "Of Mice And Men" (which is still my favorite of his) But "The Grapes Of Wrath" was really difficult for me to read. We were discussing The Great Depression in history,and our textbook kept mentioning this book to the point where I had to read it. Overall, it's a good book but not the quickest read.
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#171482 - Wed May 14 2003 01:45 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Steinbeck made an excellent job of highlighting the misery and exposing the gross injustice the exploited migrant workers suffered during those dreadful times. It's difficult to imagine just how much indignity and hardship thousands of families, just like the Joads, had to endure. Unfortunately, there will always be those who are unscrupulous enough to take advantage of the misfortunes of the poor, sick and needy.

I'm not surprised that there was uproar when this book was first published. Some find it much easier to look the other way than to face up to realities.
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#171483 - Wed May 14 2003 02:50 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
ren33 Offline
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That's true, izzi. I wonder how many people read it, saw themselves there , and felt any sort of shame?
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#171484 - Wed May 14 2003 08:52 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Steinbeck shows human nature both at its best and at its worst in his books, and I'm sure that he must have shocked many people who just had no idea how the other half lived.

Probably the only people to have felt deeply ashamed would have been the unfortunate, homeless migrants themselves...yet the majority of them had every right to hold their heads up high.

Those who had mistreated them so diabolically would easily have convinced themselves that lining their own pockets, at the expense of others, was just fair game. An 'us or them' mentality, even when they knew that people were dying from malnutrition and other, easily preventable, diseases purely because of their own greed.

Thankfully, as we all know, those who have so little themselves are generally the first to show a willingness to share with those who have even less. From the accounts I've read of real life experiences, if it hadn't been for the kindness and generosity most showed fellow travellers on the road, countless others would have suffered and died in appalling conditions.
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#171485 - Sun May 18 2003 01:11 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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What did you all think of the extra, explanatory chapters Steinbeck deftly slipped in between the 'goings on' of the Joad family? A very clever touch, I thought, as they give the reader a much clearer picture of the political situation and economic life at that time, and a deeper understanding of the affect it had on them, and others like them. Readers in hundreds of years will the get the same appreciation of exactly what these families were going through.

Steinbeck uses these accounts, scattered throughout the book, to explain how and why tenant farmers were forced to pack up and clear off their lands. They tell of the way they were treated and cheated by money grabbing swindlers from the time they had to sell up and move on, right through the migration and on into 'the promised land'. The harshness of the concrete highway, route 66, and the resentment they were shown by the owners of the roadside cafe's. Were told of how the temporary Hooverville's sprang up and spread out to accommodate more and more families wherever there was a crop becoming ready to be harvested. Then how they're torn down again or torched afterwards once the workers were of no further use to the growers, and the townspeople wanted them moved on. He explains how prices were kept high by destroying surplus fruit, vegetables and meat, and how the helpless, starving families could do nothing but stand by and look on in bleak desperation.

Not all is gloom and doom on the road though, even though life for them is such a hard struggle to survive. Without getting over sentimental, Steinbeck allows us a glimmer of warmth as he shows us the comraderie and 'kinship' migrants felt with others in the same situation establishing their overnight camps en route. We also get a sense of their unselfish, caring and sharing attitudes towards each other, and how the simplest pleasures of entertainment helped to keep their spirits up.

Most readers nowadays would appreciate the social protest Steinbeck was making when he wrote this book and couldn't help but sympathise with the migrants' plight. The same couldn't be said on publication. I know that there was much condemnation of his work, and that it was dismissed by many as pure fiction and propaganda, even public book burning sessions took place.

Did Steinbeck's stand against the injustices of the poor make people sit up and take notice? As Ren said earlier, how many read his book and felt shame? More importantly, how many in a position to change things for them felt any shame, and did his work actually make much of a difference?
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#171486 - Sun May 18 2003 03:11 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
ren33 Offline
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I think I must have skimmed those extra chapters when I read it years ago. perhaps I wanted to get on with the story. As you say, it is an extremely effective way of showing what was going on in the minds of the communities, for instance, the cars sales sharks in the opening chapters.
I find my knees turning to jelly every time someone tells the Joads about what they will find ahead as they travel on. How could they have stopped and given up , turned around, or gone somewhere else though? It is so harrowing. Then you get a touch of humanity, like you said. Or a piece of humour. What a masterful book!
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#171487 - Mon May 19 2003 11:08 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
sebastiancat Offline
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Usually I'm a much faster reader, but having been slowly savoring this book. I'm about a 1/3 of the way through and found a passage I greatly enjoyed: "You go steal that tire an' you're a thief, but he tried to steal your four dollars for a busted tire. They call that sound business". Guess times haven't changed that much in the 40+ years since the publication of this book.

Having never read this book before, I'm greatly enjoying the interchange of personalities. The Joads have just met up with Mr. & Mrs. Wilson who have been stuck since their car broke down. The basic nature of the people comes across so well here as they stick to one another. Mrs. Wilson helped bury Grandpa Joad and now Mrs. Joad will stay with her thru sickness in health. The old adage "one good turn deserves another" has never been more true. I don't get a sense of selfishness or duty that the Joads are using their ability to fix cars to assist the Wilson's. It would be almost unthinkable not to help someone in need, or offer that extra plate of food even if it means skimming some off of yours. That's just what people do. Looking forward to the remainder of this book.
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#171488 - Tue May 20 2003 06:40 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
LindaC007 Offline
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I agree with Izzi that the explanatory chapters added between the story really added so much to the story. I have to say, of all the miserable things the family have encountered so far, I think Mrs. Sandry, in Weed Patch Camp, is the sorriest. First she tries to take what little joy that Rosaharn had left in her pregnancy, and then her and her cronies sit there trying to kill the joy people felt in the dance looking for sin. It was just so mean-spirited. I wonder, though, if Mrs. Sandry and the holy rollers used their self-righteouness as a means of easing their own misery by making other people miserable? It never amazes me how hard people will be on themselves, and others, in the name of religion. If it was my place to judge sin, I would say she had collected more than any dunking in a ditch would wash off.Ma Joad is my favorite character. She is really the glue that holds the family together. I feel sorry for her, because she sees them slipping away, one by one, but she has no control of it--she just keeps trying and trying. She knows she has to stay strong or the family can't survive in any form. My daughter read The Red Pony last year, and she asked me if everything Steinbeck wrote was sad. I told her, well, life, unfortunately, is not always full of happy things--there are lot of sad things out there. I think The Grapes Of Wrath gives the message that people can't just give up. They to have hope for the best and keep trying.


Edited by LindaC007 (Tue May 20 2003 06:44 AM)
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#171489 - Tue May 20 2003 08:42 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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We'll have to be careful not to give too much away and spoil the book for you sebastiancat.

Quote:

The old adage "one good turn deserves another" has never been more true. I don't get a sense of selfishness or duty that the Joads are using their ability to fix cars to assist the Wilson's. It would be almost unthinkable not to help someone in need, or offer that extra plate of food even if it means skimming some off of yours. That's just what people do.




That's exactly how I saw it too, sebastiancat, it's as if they would consider it the worst possible insult if their neighbourliness were to be refused.

What a wonderful assortment of characters! I love the way that Steinbeck doesn't try to portray the Joads as the perfect 'all-American' family, these are ordinary people with no shortage of faults and all sorts of hang-ups. His descriptions of them all are so vivid and finely detailed that he skilfully brings each of them to life for us, depicting every aspect of their physical features, and even meticulously picking out some of their little mannerisms.


Quote

>>> Old Tom Joad ... wore a black, dirty slouch hat and a blue work shirt over which was a buttonless vest; his jeans were held up by a wide harness-leather belt with a big square brass buckle, leather and metal polished from years of wearing, and his shoes were cracked and the soles swollen and boat-shaped from years of sun and wet and dust. The sleeves of his shirt were tight on his forearms, held down by bulging, powerful muscles. Stomach and hips were lean, and legs short, heavy and strong. His face, squared by a bristling pepper-and-salt beard, was all drawn down to the forceful chin, a chin thrust out and built out by the stubble beard which was not so greyed on the chin, and gave weight and force to its thrust. Over Old Tom's unwhiskered cheekbones the skin was as brown as meerchaum, and wrinkled in rays around the eye corners from squinting. His eyes were brown, black-coffee brown, and he thrust his head forward when he looked at a thing, for his bright, dark eyes were failing.<<<

It's so easy to visualise him...he's almost standing there in front of us!

Linda, the passage you mentioned in the Weedpatch Camp took me a little by surprise when I read it. All the way through the book Steinbeck uses so many biblical metaphors and yet in that particular episode he paints this very devout, God-fearing, Christian woman in such a bad light by making her so completely over the top with her 'hell and damnation' spoutings. I couldn't help but smile when Ma chased her off with her tail between her legs.

Then there's Casy, the fallen preacher...he's something else! So for all the virtuous 'Christian' morals Steinbeck drops in, he counterbalances them in other ways. He doesn't appear to hold much with religion himself.
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#171490 - Wed May 21 2003 06:18 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
LindaC007 Offline
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Izzi, as a child I sat thru many "Hell fire" sermons. My husband did, too. I think you either stay in it, reject it altogether (like Casy), or you reach a middle ground and learn tolerance for others--their beliefs--their ways. I hope I have reached this middle ground. I strive to, anyway.

But, there are still those out their who are very fundamental--and very judgmental of others. I think that some people think anything too enjoyable is a sin. Suffering, I don't think, will cause us to reach a state of grace. God isn't near as hard as us as we are ourselves.

Sorry if I gave anything away. I have to turn in "The Grapes Of Wrath" in a few days. It's a book from my daughter's school--and this is the last week books can be checked-out for the school year. After that, I won't have the book to really discuss--though, I will try.

Also, this may be of interest. I know a family who used to make a living as sharecroppers on a tobacco farm in the eastern part of NC, and while their conditions were not nearly as pitiful as the Joads, it was a hard way to make a living. They literally took lunch and supper to the fields--and started at daylight, when the crop came in. The land under their feet--the roof over their head, never belonged to them. None of the children stayed in sharecropping--each moved away. What happened to all of them, I don't know, but one of them (my brother-in-law) went on to school, and sent his daughter through college to be a registered nurse.
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#171491 - Wed May 21 2003 10:10 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Wise words Linda, and although I'm not religious myself I do understand and appreciate your meaning.

Casy did reject the church because he'd lost faith, but I also think that he knew that if he'd remained a preacher, the temptation to sin again would be too strong for him to resist. He was a basically a good man, and his main consideration was for helping others. Walking away and trying to find a new meaning for his life made him realise that he could do more for others outside 'the church' than he could from within it.

He told Tom "I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes." An' I says: "Don't you love Jesus?" Well, I thought an' thought, an' finally I says: "No, I don't know nobody name' Jesus. I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people". Whereas, in total contrast, the sanctimonious Mrs Sandry claimed to love Jesus, but showed no love at all for her fellow men.

We were also told how the Salvation Army had treated the migrants so inhumanely when they'd gone to them for help when they were desperate for food. One of the ladies at the camp had told the Joads how they had been stripped of their dignity by being made to crawl for their food "I ain't never seen my man beat before, but them, them Salvation Army done it to 'im." I don't know, of course, how much of this was based on factual experiences related to Steinbeck.

I get the feeling that Steinbeck was making a point that there are good and bad people in all walks of life and that Christians don't have the monopoly when it comes to morals.

Don't worry Linda, I'm sure that nothing has been given away so far which would spoil sebastiancat's reading.
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#171492 - Thu May 22 2003 03:47 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Registered: Sat Jun 15 2002
Posts: 2214
Loc: the amusement arcade of life
I found some extremely interesting material here in the archives of:
American Treasures of the Library of Congress, under a section entitled The Forgotten People, showing many photographs of the migrant workers and the appalling conditions they were living under.

There are also copies of memos applying for emergency funding to improve conditions, they make harrowing reading.
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/vc007130.jpg Application

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/vc007131.jpg Report - page 1
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/vc007132.jpg Report - page 2
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/images/vc007133.jpg Report - page 3

An excerpt from the above mentioned report:

"...we found filth, squalor, an entire absence of sanitation, and a crowding of human beings into totally inadequate tents or crude structures built of boards, weeds and anything that was found at hand to give a pitiful semblance of a home at its worst. Words cannot describe some of the conditions we saw" (Federal report on Imperial Valley, California)

Although Steinbeck's book gives a general idea of how hard life was for the migrants, this web page gives the true picture and is well worth taking the time to look through.
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#171493 - Thu May 22 2003 09:59 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
sebastiancat Offline
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Thanks LindaC and Izzi for your great comments. Nothing was given away, in fact it made me want to push ahead in the book even more to get to "Weedpatch" and I have. I find myself at turns both holding my breath and then cursing under my held breath. Life is such a see-saw of highs and lows. Just when things appear to be going well for the Joads (finding Weedpatch, etc) their lives take two steps back (the wandering of the family). I concur with the other thoughts about the sanctimonious morality that we see with some of the persons in weedpatch. While square-dancin may not be a sin, the fact that you enjoy it makes it such. I just can evision the old biddie with little needlepoint samplers everywhere (well not in her tent ) praising loss and sacrifice as the direct course to virtue and sanctity. I can't imagine telling anyone something so horrible as they could perhaps lose a child, especially their first child, due to cuddle dancing. That just angers me. I was raised in a oddly religious house, that was religious when it suited their purposes and not when it didn't. That taught me to appreciate that each person has their own beliefts, and it is not my place to impose them upon others. Rose of Sharon did the right thing, by listening as she was taught to do (respect your elders), but please don't ever have the need to take it to heart. Just because one person states their beliefs it doesn't necessarily make it the right beliefs for you.
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#171494 - Fri May 23 2003 06:44 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
LindaC007 Offline
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Sebastaincat, there is nothing worse to me than someone else trying to force their religious beliefs on somebody else! I know, poor Rose of Sharon had way too much trouble already. Connie had just walked off without a backward glance, and here comes this old biddy telling her all that mean nonsense. And wasn't it so sad when, just after one month in Weedpatch, that the Joads were down to eating fried dough? Izzi, thank you so much for the sites. I actually had no idea of the terrible plight of the migrant workers in the 1930's, until I read "The Grapes Of Wrath" in high school. I had heard people talk about the Great Depression, but the mass migration to California of the displaced farm families, is a sad time in US history. It should not be forgotten. I heard on Charlottee, NC radio yesterday that 54% of families in North Carolina are living below poverty. This is because NC has had so many manufacturing industries close. The only jobs many of these people can get are low-paying service jobs--waiting tables, working in fast food resturants, etc. It's like our displaced manufacturing workers are becoming the "farm families" of modern times. Remember, too, that in the US, we are unique in the world in a country so big and wealthy for one thing: there is no National Health here. So workers losing good manufacturing jobs, have no medical insurance. Also, I heard that 1% of the US population holds 45% of the country's health--so it should give all Americans something to think about.


Edited by LindaC007 (Fri May 23 2003 06:57 AM)
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#171495 - Fri May 23 2003 10:13 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
sebastiancat Offline
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I just finished reading the book yesterday and will do my best not to give anything away. If I spoil anything for anyone, you can beat me up .

I noticed that some had mentioned extra chapters at the end of the book. Alas I purchased a used copy that didn't have these and will have to peruse my local bookstore this weekend to read the ending chapters.

At the end of the book I set it down and began a conversation with my husband about the plight of the migrant worker and how prejudice can also include hatred and fear of social and economic status, and then I pouted a bit at the unfairness of life at times. Then I went on one of the websites listed for "Grapes of Wrath" and read something encouraging to me:


"When Ma thanks Mrs. Wainwright for her help, she also expresses her realization that in her present plight the people must transcend their concern for their own immediate families and embraces everybody; they must enter into wholeness, into unity. Thus, she comes to accept the truth of the Emersonian philosophy and starts thinking like Tom and Casy. Rose of Sharon puts this philosophy into practice. .... she nourishes a starving migrant back to life. The last scene of the play, therefore, is a hopeful one. Through united effort, the migrants can overcome their trials and tribulations."

Just reading that made me think of the ending and start to imagine what the fate of the Joads would be, since it was clearly open to interpretation. I envision a unity taking place between those who had experienced hardhips a combining of resources both monetary and emotional to achieve some semblance of family and community. Ma Joad once said, "if you're in trouble go to poor people. They're the only ones that help". I see that as because they (the poor) are experiencing first hand what it is to want and need just to survive.

In my mind's eye I see Ma Joad with a nice stove and perhaps an ice box that she and Rose of Sharon can appreciate. A nice garage job for Al. A community school that Ruthie and Winfield can go to, that will tame the little hellion in each of them. But most of all some place they can stay put for a while and try to establish roots and home.

Thanks for choosing this book. I walked away from it with great food for thought.
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#171496 - Fri May 23 2003 10:47 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Posts: 2214
Loc: the amusement arcade of life
I think you might have misunderstood, sebastiancat. The 'extra' chapters mentioned earlier were the ones interspersed within the book which were not actually about the Joads. Apart from chapter 3, which is the one about the turtle, they just give us a better understanding of life at that time,and people's attitudes towards the migrants.

I've had a quick flip through and I hadn't realised there were so many! They are Chapters 5,7,9,11,12,14,15,17,19,21,23,25,27 and 29. You haven't missed out on anything, I just didn't make myself very clear... sorry.

...........

Edited to add:

It has just dawned on me that you might mean that you have an abridged version of the book, my copy has 30 chapters in all.


Edited by izzi (Fri May 23 2003 03:48 PM)
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#171497 - Fri May 23 2003 05:08 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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Registered: Sat Jun 15 2002
Posts: 2214
Loc: the amusement arcade of life
Linda, I've known many tenant farming families like the ones you mentioned. It's of no importance that they don't have their name on the title deeds, the land doesn't belong to them...they belong to the land. That sounds like such a cliche, but it really is the way many agricultural workers feel. The most important thing for them is being in touch with the soil, literally feeling it run between fingers and thumb and knowing automatically if it's nutrient rich or whether it's lacking.

Working on the land is generally a constant battle of wills with Mother Nature, and boy, can she ever put up a good fight! It's the challenge to succeed and survive against all the odds which is so compulsive. The simple pleasure of sowing the seeds, tending the plants and harvesting the crop gives such a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Finding a balance and harmony with nature is the ultimate experience, for some it's almost spiritual, and the sense of belonging has nothing at all to do with ownership or possession.

Muley knew he could never leave the land he grew up in and loved. Grampa did too, for all his bluff and bluster about how much he was looking forward to bathing in a tub full of grapes and squeezing them through his hands so that the juices ran all over him, he knew deep down that he couldn't leave his home either. He made his feelings quite plain to his family that he wouldn't go.

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>>> Grampa's eyes had dulled, and there was none of the old meanness in them. "Ain't nothin' the matter with me, " he said. "I jus' ain't a-goin" ..... "I ain't sayin' for you to stay. You go right on along. Me - I'm stayin'. I give her a goin' over all night mos'ly. This here's my country. I b'long here. An' I don't give a goddamn if they's oranges an' grapes crowdin' a fella outa bed even. I ain't a-goin. This country ain't no good, but it's my country. No, you all go ahead. I'll jus' stay right here where I b'long." <<<

It's clear that they loved him very much and obviously didn't want to leave him behind, but by forcing him to leave the land that he felt so much a part of, they took away his will to live. He just gave up on life and didn't make it to 'the land of plenty'.

Did his family have the right to go against his wishes and drug him in order to take him with them? Should they have allowed him to live out his remaining days where he felt he belonged?
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#171498 - Sat May 24 2003 08:53 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
ren33 Offline
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As usual, you all, wonderful insights into the book. I am in a rush as am going through a busy patch but couldn't not comment on:
Quote:

Did his family have the right to go against his wishes and drug him in order to take him with them? Should they have allowed him to live out his remaining days where he felt he belonged?




They probably didnt have the right , Izzi, but could YOU have gone off and left him? I know I couldn't for sure. They are just proving their 'humanness'in this , again, I suppose. I will be around tomorrow for sure. XX thanks all
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#171499 - Sun May 25 2003 12:51 AM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
izzi Offline
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You're right, of course, Ren. In that situation I would have used all my powers of persuasion to coax him to come along, but drugging him against his will was perhaps taking things to extremes. He'd thought it all through and had shown the extent of his determination by telling them, "I ain't a goin' an' ya can lump it. Take Granma with ya if ya want, but ya ain't takin' me, an' that's the end of it." If he was even prepared to part company from the woman he'd loved and shared his life with for so many years, then he meant business.

The family's main argument was that he would starve if he didn't go with them, but it's quite ironic that he would have eaten more regularly, and definitely more healthily, had he stayed behind. It would have been different if he'd have been left all alone to fend for himself in that inhospitable place, but he had Muley to provide for him. Tom knew that Muley was more than able to give him shelter, albeit a simple cave, and to cook and care for him.

Casy knew that it would be wrong to force the old man to go against his wishes, and tried to gently explain things to the family after his death.

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>>> Al said, "It's a goddamn shame. He been talkin' what he's gonna do, how he gonna squeeze grapes over his head an' let the juice run in his whiskers, an' all stuff like that."

Casy said: "He was foolin', all the time. I think he knowed it. An' Grampa didn't die tonight. He died the minute you took 'im off the place."

"You sure a that?" Pa cried.

"Why, no, Oh he was breathin', " Casy went on, "but he was dead. He was that place, an' he knowed it." ...... "You couldn' a done nothin'. Your way was fixed an' Granpa didn' have no part in it. He didn' suffer none. Not after fust thing this mornin'. He's jus' stayin' wi' the lan', he couldn' leave it."
<<<

In trying so desperately hard to keep the family together, they lost both their matriarch and patriarch within a few days of setting out, as Granma found that she no longer wanted to live without him and tragically, she passed away too.

I wonder how many real life families were faced the same dilema.
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#171500 - Tue May 27 2003 01:51 PM Re: "The Grapes of Wrath" (Book of the Month Club: May
TabbyTom Offline
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Quote:

the passage you mentioned in the Weedpatch Camp took me a little by surprise when I read it. All the way through the book Steinbeck uses so many biblical metaphors and yet in that particular episode he paints this very devout, God-fearing, Christian woman in such a bad light by making her so completely over the top with her 'hell and damnation' spoutings.



Yes, there are biblical metaphors; but if there's a religious angle to the book, it's strikingly unorthodox. The migration of the Joads and other "Okies" is a kind of Exodus in reverse: they don't leave a house of bondage and cross a wilderness to a promised land; they leave a land where they felt free (even if they were in fact in hock to the banks) and cross the wilderness into what turns out to be a land of bondage. It is the Okies and not their oppressors who suffer the plague of darkness (the dust storm) and the plague of boils (pellagra).

And, unlike the Israelites, there seems to be no God to help the Okies. As Casy and Tom Joad, say, their only way out is to organize themselves. In Revelation the grapes of wrath are those of God's wrath against Babylon ("If any man worship the beast and his image .... the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God (14:9-10)"; "And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God (14:19)"; "He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of almighty God (19:15)"). But in Chapter 25 of the novel, the wrath is the wrath of the dispossessed ("In the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling, growing heavy for the vintage.")

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We were also told how the Salvation Army had treated the migrants so inhumanely when they'd gone to them for help when they were desperate for food. One of the ladies at the camp had told the Joads how they had been stripped of their dignity by being made to crawl for their food "I ain't never seen my man beat before, but them, them Salvation Army done it to 'im." I don't know, of course, how much of this was based on factual experiences related to Steinbeck.



I was re-reading George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London recently, and he hasn't much good to say about the Salvation Army either. He stayed at their lodging houses occasionally while he was tramping round England in the inter-war years, and claims that "the semi-military discipline is the same in all of them .... The fact is that the Salvation Army are so in the habit of thinking of themselves as a charitable body that they cannot even run a lodging house without making it stink of charity." So maybe the Salvation Army were a rather overbearing lot in those days.

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The last scene of the play, therefore, is a hopeful one. Through united effort, the migrants can overcome their trials and tribulations." Just reading that made me think of the ending and start to imagine what the fate of the Joads would be, since it was clearly open to interpretation.



Yes, I couldn't help speculating about what the future held for the Joads either. The autumn is over and there will be no more work on the land (the only work they know anything about, since Al has left them) during the winter. I can't see how they can survive where they are: they'll presumably have to drift into a city where they are unlikely to find much in the way of work or relief. The last scene is indeed a wonderful message of hope, but all the same I can't help feeling very pessimistic about the Joads' chances.



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