This is one of the classics I previously felt like I should have read a long time ago. Now that I am in a position where I can be aware of who I once was as a person and a reader, I’m glad I waited to read this book. I could imagine that reading something like this more towards adolescence would be a perfect way to turn a person away from books for a long time. Then again, maybe I’m selling todays youth short by comparing them to my younger self.
I wouldn’t exactly say I’m swimming in a pool of life experience, but I’m certainly better off in that department than I once was. Ageing tends to do that. I do believe the experiences that I’ve had make it much easier for me to appreciate this book. The exquisite writing also proves effective in making it enjoyable. Above all else, Steinbeck does sublime work with the path of his plot and his use of dialogue.
This book is a wonderful commentary on the effect capitalism can have on some people. If capitalism, in an altruistic sense, would function to see companies within a society make large amounts of money which could then trickle down through society to support the overall population, then The Grapes of Wrath functions to reveal the basic errors of the system. In many, if not most scenarios, the large majority of wealth tends to get stuck at the top. One could say this is due to the necessities of keeping a large business working properly, or more based on greed, but that’s your choice. I’m not interested in getting too political in a book review. However, in this book, the presence of political statement cannot be ignored. It would not be entirely inaccurate to describe this book as series of examples displaying how the system itself works to push countless numbers of people into hardship and even actively suppress them.
Although this book takes place during a time of depression in the The Dust Bowl era, it is still quite poignant to the state of the country and the economy today. The narrative follows the Joad family through the difficulties of their migration creating a vivid image of the difficulties for some of them farming families. I love the way Steinbeck breaks up the action with short chapters throughout the book and takes us away from the family’s narrative to give us a wider scope at the state on the nation.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book to others, especially those who have enjoyed Steinbeck’s work in the past. I would struggle to compare this book to Mice and Men as they are dramatically different in style, yet both brilliant in result. If you are delaying on getting started, or thinking of reading something else first just do yourself a favor and get into this book now.