Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

I am putting in a plug for re-reading books from your high school literature classes. My son loaded Grapes onto my Kindle. While I was down with the flu, I started to re-read this classic. The descriptions of the landscape are so rich. Even though I never have been to Oklahoma, I feel as if I can see and smell the landscape.

Throughout the first part of the book, I have such a feeling of immanent doom, coupled with an appreciation of how friendly and giving the farmers and immigrants on Route 66 were during the days of the Dust Bowl. Even when returnees from California told them how back the agricultural picking jobs were, they had a naive hope that things would turn out to match their dreams. Ma wanted a white house in the orange trees. If they all worked hard and saved, why could they not achieve “the American Dream?” After our recent Economic Recession, not a few of us probably felt like the Joads. No longer able to work in our previous jobs due to downsizing or other factors, we always had been able to ace an interview and get a good job. Why was it not working this time?

I have traveled parts of Route 66, visited Needles and Barstow, and admire the depths of Steinbeck’s descriptions. I can imagine standing on the pass, looking down into the verdant valleys, covered in orange and walnut groves, thinking that I have finally made it to Paradise.

A tour operator friend told me that when she has a friend trying to learn English, she suggests they read Grapes of Wrath. I was surprised because of the farmers’ dialect. Will we now have a group of immigrants from Nepal talking like Dust Bowl farmers from Oklahoma?

I only am about half way through the book, so I will update you when I finish.

Link for the Kindle edition:


About KLevenson

I am Teacher Librarian at Piedmont High School in the San Francisco East Bay. I am a part time reference Librarian I for the San Francisco Public Library. I have a Masters in Library and Information Sciences from San Jose State and a Teacher Librarian credential in addition to my teaching credential in Science. My first MA was from Harvard in Archaeology. My students teach me something new every time I am with them!
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