Category Archives: classic
Thanks for reading The Grapes of Wrath with me! If you’d like to read similar books, you might be interested in:
Rainwater by Sandra Brown
An Introduction to the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, written and produced by Dan Stone and the National Endowment for the Arts (audiobook on CD)
This week marks Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read and supported by booksellers, librarians, journalists and writers, publishers and many, many readers.
The Grapes of Wrath has been challenged (reasons given include language, indecency and vulgarity) many times since its publication, so much so that Rick Wartzman wrote a book about it, Obscene in the Extreme: the burning and banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
Was this book assigned to you as a student? Was it available to you at your library growing up? Would you object to your kid reading it? How do you feel about someone else telling you what you can and cannot read?
Have you seen the article in today’s New York Times about the legal battle over control of John Steinbeck’s Long Island summer home? The Sag Harbor, NY, home was left to John Steinbeck’s sister-in-law by his widow; his oldest son and granddaughter believe the Steinbeck family should have it.
Some of the photos accomanying the article are fascinating, like the one showing where Steinbeck marked guests’ heights on the kitchen wall.
If you’re interested, you can also read his essay “Conversation at Sag Harbor” online.
The title of The Grapes of Wrath is a reflection of the phrase used by Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored . . .”), a reflection itself of the Bible verse at Revelation 14:19 (“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”).
What are some reasons John Steinbeck might have chosen this for his title? Does it fit the book well?
What other allusions to religious imagery or symbolism does Steinbeck make in The Grapes of Wrath? How does he use it and why? Is it effective?
In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck interweaves the narrative with numerous sections of commentary and description. Why do you think he structures the book this way? Is it effective? How does it add to your reading of the book? Are these selections more or less meaningful as the Dustbowl fades into history?
Steinbeck writes, “In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” What does he mean by this? What are the consequences of this?
Can you think of other points in American history that are comparable to this?