50 Books- The Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Where did I get this book, and how many pages?

I bought this 455 page book at a base in Germany on a random trip.  I think we were there to buy my new computer, so naturally I left with three books.

Have I read this before?

No.  This seems to be another one many people read in high school that I did not. I can’t even remember what I read in high school.  Seriously, what is wrong with my high school that we didn’t do any of these books?

What do I already know?

Not much.  I know it has to do with people leaving middle America during the depression, looking for something better.  I am also pretty sure the guy on the front cover is from Mythbusters.

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I mean, the outfits are pretty similar.  I can’t be the only one who sees this.

What do I think now?

First, I feel a little bad about the outfit comparison, when I realized that was probably young Tom, fresh out of prison.  Oops.

There was a definite mood written into the book.  There were many chapters about the family specifically, but there were also chapters stuck in between giving a hypothetical situation.  This was kind of nice as it allowed the Joad family not to have every potentially horrible thing happen to them.  Yes, a random, unnamed family lost a child, but at least it was one thing spared from this family we were getting to know.  It allowed the reality of the time and the situation to be presented without expecting one family to actually live through all of it.  These helped to paint a larger picture, and transport you to a time that I am happy I did not live through.  It wasn’t a depressing book, but it allowed you to feel the desperation of the characters.

I only had one big problem with this book; it didn’t really end.  I don’t demand that my books end happily, but I do think they should end.  This book left me wondering if there was a missing chapter from my book.  I knew things weren’t necessarily going to get better for the Joad family; it was not an easy time to be poor and looking for work.  I could accept the characters who died, and the characters who seemed to just walk away; the death is an end, and the walking away actually gives you an idea of what that character might live through later.  Maybe most people don’t feel like the ending needed anything more.  You know their situation, and you know it’s not looking great.  Perhaps the idea is to not spell out the their bleak future anymore than is necessary.  I still don’t have to like it.

Should you read this book before you die?

Yes.  This book does a great job of presenting the perspective of both the rich and the poorest members of the population.  We might not always be happier knowing the perspectives of others, but we would certainly be better off if we understood each other better.  This book might not be relevant with the exact events happening today, but there are still people everywhere who just want an honest chance to make their way in the world.  They don’t want everything, they just want a chance.

The next novel will be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, followed by Hamlet, by William Shakespeare.

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Please, just don’t tell me other people read this one in high school also.  I am really getting depressed with my high school education.

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