As John Steinbeck famously said, “I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags, I don’t want him satisfied”.
And not only does he beautifully succeeds, he leaves you gasping for more!
There are books that only have a lyrical prose and there are books that have only a message.
But, there are only rare books that have both and The Grapes of Wrath is one of them.
My first reaction to what I read was that of awe.
The beautiful imagery of words and the picturesque landscapes that even in their ruin seem to be full of vibrancy and color, the intricate detailing, the emotions, the experiences, the love for land, the simplicity of some humans and the complexity of the system, the hopefulness and the undying spirit combine to create something that is spell binding and redeeming in numerous ways.
Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well…. that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it….But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it – why, then the property is the man….. stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big – and he’s the servant of his property. That is so, too.”
This book isn’t for someone who isn’t affected by the social issues for it is the issues related to economic hardship and changes in financial and agricultural industries during the Great Depression that make this an exceptional and a soul-inspiring read.
You will be moved by it only if you understand Life. It’s our experiences that build how we understand the world and only an evolved soul, somewhat battered, somewhat enlightened and awakened can appreciate it.
And here’s a story you can hardly believe, but it’s true, and it’s funny and it’s beautiful. There was a family of twelve and they were forced off the land. They had no car. They built a trailer out of junk and loaded it with their possessions….. The people in flight from the terror behind- strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is restored forever.
Set during the Great depression it speaks of the Joads and innumerable families like them that are forced to seek a job in semblance for dignity and future for their families.
From choosing what to take along with them and what to leave behind, the fate of the family members that one by one succumb to the circumstances in death or in not being able to take the strains of the journey, the unity of the people in sharing what little they have and their individual struggles make it an exceptional journey that’s not to be missed.
All they want is a life of dignity and self-sustenance.
Any kind of charity repels them and makes them want to repay. But are they allowed to have it and what happens when the system fails to sustain those who are at the very bottom of it.
And in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
Pick it up to know that often it’s the not-so-privileged, the not-so-affluent that have the hearts of gold, those who know when Life has beaten them, but who still manage not only to sustain and survive but also support others with whatever little they have.
To know that we can’t always be self- serving, you’ve got to give even if you got nothing.
And at last to remember that we aren’t rich, we aren’t poor, we are human beings even with our failures and vices and at the end of the day we are supposed to be just one.