A reading club with a view to the future

569 John Steinbeck, Robert DeMott: The Grapes of Wrath

“The Grapes of Wrath” portrays the struggles of the Joad family during the Great Depression, highlighting themes of social injustice and resilience.



"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck is a classic American novel set during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The story follows the Joad family, farmers from Oklahoma, as they are forced to leave their land due to economic hardships and the Dust Bowl. Seeking a better life, they embark on a treacherous journey to California, where they hope to find work and prosperity. The novel vividly depicts the harsh realities of poverty, exploitation, and social injustice faced by migrant workers during this tumultuous period. Steinbeck explores themes of resilience, solidarity, and the human spirit's endurance in the face of adversity. Through rich characterization, powerful descriptions, and social commentary, "The Grapes of Wrath" remains a poignant portrayal of the hardships and hopes of the working class, offering a profound critique of economic inequality and a call for social change.


  1. Title: The Grapes of Wrath 
  2. Author: John Steinbeck Co-author: Robert DeMott (editor) 
  3. Publishing Year: 1939 
  4. Publisher: Viking Press 
  5. Length in Hours: 21 hrs and 1 min


5 main ideas

  1. Economic Injustice: "The Grapes of Wrath" exposes the exploitation of migrant workers and the systemic economic injustices prevalent during the Great Depression.
  2. Resilience and Survival: The novel emphasizes the indomitable spirit and resilience of the Joad family as they confront immense challenges and strive to secure a better future.
  3. Class Struggle: Steinbeck delves into the struggles of the working class, shedding light on the disparity between the wealthy and the impoverished and the oppressive forces they face.
  4. Interconnectedness and Community: The novel emphasizes the power of solidarity and collective action in the face of adversity, highlighting the importance of community support.
  5. Environmental Devastation: "The Grapes of Wrath" portrays the ecological devastation caused by the Dust Bowl, highlighting the destructive consequences of human actions on the natural world.

5 funny quotes

  1. "A fella ain't got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody."
  2. "Well, Pa's got us a whole nice loaf. Goodness, it's a whole pie!"
  3. "Maybe it ain't right, but I got a right to think."
  4. "Ain't nothing left here. Might as well take our shoes off and run yellin' down the street!"
  5. "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him--he has known a fear beyond every other."
  2. "The quality of owning freezes you forever into 'I,' and cuts you off forever from the 'we.'"
  3. "And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away."
  4. "The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it."
  5. "I ain't never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn't have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies."

5 dilemmas

  1. The Dilemma of Leaving Home: The Joad family faces the difficult decision of leaving their home in Oklahoma due to economic hardship and the Dust Bowl. They must weigh the risks and uncertainties of venturing into the unknown in search of a better life.
  2. The Moral Dilemma of Tom Joad: Tom Joad grapples with the dilemma of whether to seek personal revenge or fight for social justice. He must decide whether to prioritize his individual desires or contribute to the larger struggle for equality and workers' rights.
  3. The Dilemma of Self-Sufficiency vs. Community: The Joad family struggles with the dilemma of balancing their desire for independence and self-sufficiency with the necessity of relying on others for survival. They must decide whether to prioritize individual survival or join forces with other migrants to form a collective support system.
  4. The Dilemma of Hope in the Face of Despair: The characters confront the dilemma of maintaining hope and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and hardships. They must find ways to keep their spirits alive amidst poverty, discrimination, and loss.
  5. The Dilemma of Conforming or Challenging Social Norms: The Joad family encounters the dilemma of whether to conform to societal expectations or challenge the established order. They must decide whether to accept their marginalization and exploitation or stand up against the unjust systems that perpetuate their suffering.

5 examples

  1. The Bank: The bank represents the faceless institution that forecloses on the Joad family's farm and displaces them, symbolizing the power of capitalism and economic exploitation.
  2. The Resettlement Administration: The Resettlement Administration is a government agency that offers assistance to the migrant families, highlighting the limited support provided during the Great Depression.
  3. Hoovervilles: Hoovervilles were makeshift shantytowns named after President Herbert Hoover, where unemployed and impoverished individuals lived, showcasing the failure of the government's response to the economic crisis.
  4. Route 66: Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, represents the path many families, including the Joads, took in their journey westward seeking employment and a better life.
  5. The Weedpatch Camp: The Weedpatch Camp is a government-run migrant camp where the Joads find temporary refuge, showcasing the attempt to provide some assistance and community for the displaced families.

Referenced books

  1. "The Holy Bible"
  2. "Paradise Lost" by John Milton
  3. "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin
  4. "The Red Pony" by John Steinbeck
  5. "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes

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"Maybe it ain't right, but I got a right to think."

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