The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

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This powerful social document exemplifies the plight of "Okies" during the 1930s.
Publisher: New York : Penguin
ISBN: 9780670016907
Call Number: F STEINBEC
Characteristics: 464 p. ; 20 cm


From Library Staff

List - Unequal Living in SF
SFPL_Teen Jul 25, 2019

Steinbeck introduces his readers to the world of the Dust Bowl: an era of homelessness and poverty. This book’s representation of homeless living can be compared to some of what we see on the streets in San Francisco today. The author weaves the difficulty of what it means to live in poverty or w... Read More »

Kern County, California has the great honor both of being the setting of Steinbeck’s novel and being the first place where it was banned (1939). Objections to profanity and sexual references continued from then into the 1990s. It is a work with international banning appeal: the book was barred in... Read More »

A story of the Joad family as they journey to California after being uprooted from their land during the Dust Bowl. See as farmers-become-migrants, share their hopes, fears and hardships.

The great novel about Depression-era westward migrants. Winner of the Pulitzer prize in 1940.

From the critics

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Jan 17, 2020

Great book. Don’t really remember all that much what it was about. I read it over a period of 7 months (July 2019- January 2020), so it would probably be good if I reread this. *2020*

Apr 21, 2019

I wasn’t “forced” to read this in school. Instead, I chose to read it now and I’m very glad I did. It’s an emotional investment to read this book. Unfortunately, much of the book still rings true today. The working poor who have no power are trampled on by those greedy to make a profit. Steinbeck's greatest strength is characterization. He is able to realistically portray the emotional lives and thoughts of characters of all kinds. Steinbeck’s beliefs that the value of every human life and the dignity of a person are more important than corporate and personal greed and lust for power are woven throughout the novel. The Grapes of Wrath is rightly considered a timeless classic.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Apr 07, 2019

I re-read this title to enhance my understanding of the current staging of Mother Road at OSF. Wow. Just soooo good. I don't think I realized as a younger person reading this just what a compelling indictment of capitalism this was.

Jan 30, 2019

I can remember staying up all night reading this the first time in Junior High. Hot damn what a story. What glory. What heroes! Citizens forced to become migrants taking on the system with hope. Way too familiar nowadays.

Oct 15, 2018

burning poverty and chill of money ++

Friend or foe bring cash when coming to this beautiful West.

How do you know it is an irrational anger? Hollywood made a film out of this novel, and it is one of the most cleaving-to-its-source films made yet. Henry Fonda, who played a lead role in the film, said it was his favorite role. KCLS should have it. Sometimes films go down better than the books they grew from.

Mar 15, 2018

Everyone I know who was forced to read The Grapes of Wrath in high school hates it. Anyone who got to it later tends to love it. I read it in 10th grade, and therefore have an irrational anger at it still.

Jan 31, 2018

The Grapes of Wrath can truly be called the Great American novel of the 1900s (except, perhaps, for To Kill a Mockingbird). It tells the tale of a migrant family from Oklahoma forced to flee their home after the bank takes their land during the Great Depression. They travel to California, supposedly a bountiful country offering up copious jobs, and soon come face to face with the harsh reality of poverty and inequality deeply rooted in American society.

This book has faced much criticism for being communist or socialist propaganda. To an extent, this is true. John Steinbeck was a strong believer in socialism, and his opinions are clear through his writing. However, the flaws in capitalism portrayed in this book are true, and whether you are a fan of socialism or not the horrors of the Great Depression should not be ignored.

Steinbeck does not hold back in his description of the harsh conditions migrant families (called Okies as a derogatory term) are forced to endure. Many people better off than them turn a blind eye to their need, insisting that Okies are not human because no human could stand to live in such conditions. Starvation of children, illness, and death abound, and oftentimes people cannot afford a simple burial for a family member. Yet these workers do not choose to stand idly by. Many choose to take a stand in the form of unions and strikes but are squashed down by company owners.

But beyond being a political novel, this book tells of brave heroism that everyday people can accomplish. Ma, in a world run by men who are breaking, takes control of the family and makes sure all are accounted for. Casy, an ex-preacher, keeps the family's spirits alive with his incessant, spiritual chatter, and Tom Joad stands up to the oppression of humanity.

A must-read book for all people, the Grapes of Wrath is a classic that will never die. Mixing heartbreak, humor, simple, poetic prose, and the qualities of an epic, it is a book no one could ever forget.

Apr 19, 2017

the pace was too slow for me. I give it 1 stars

VaughanPLSarahN Feb 06, 2017

Despite its 1930's publication date and an arduous pace reflective of the time, the story this book tells about progress and its effect on those who are left behind is just as relevant now as it was then. Some of the statements made seemed so current that I felt they were anachronistic and had to check the publication date to remind myself that the book was written when it was set.

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Add a Quote
Feb 02, 2018

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”

Feb 02, 2018

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”

Feb 02, 2018

“And this you can know- fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”

Feb 02, 2018

“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land…We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours….That’s what makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it."

"We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man."

"Yes, but the bank is only made of men."

"No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”

Feb 02, 2018

“Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.”

Feb 02, 2018

“Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing.' . . . . I says, 'What's this call, this sperit?' An' I says, 'It's love. I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes.' . . . . I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; maybe that's the Holy Sperit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.' Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a suddent-I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it.”

Feb 02, 2018

“...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.”

Feb 24, 2016

Pa sniffed. "Seems like times is changed," he said sarcastically. "Time was when a man said what we'd do. Seems like women is tellin' now. Seems like it's purty near time to get out a stick."

Ma put the clean dripping tin dish out on a box. She smiled down at her work. "You get your stick, Pa," she said. "Times when they's food an' a place to set, then maybe you can use your stick an' keep your skin whole. But you ain't a-doin' your job, either a-thinkin' or a-workin'. If you was, why, you could use your stick, an' women folks'd sniffle their nose an' creep-mouse aroun'. But you jus' get you a stick now an' you ain't lickin' no woman; you're a-fightin', 'cause I got a stick all laid out too."

Pa grinned with embarrassment. "Now it ain't good to have the little fellas hear you talkin' like that," he said.

"You get some bacon inside the little fellas 'fore you come tellin' what else is good for 'em," said Ma.

LOVE this! Ma is such a strong and wonderful character.


Add Age Suitability
Jul 05, 2019

ea304gt thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Feb 02, 2018

Dragonrat703 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Mar 08, 2014

rolandtshen thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 1 and 2

Apr 07, 2013

spammingftw thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

JCLLeslieN Oct 25, 2010

JCLLeslieN thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add Notices
Jan 31, 2018

Other: A woman breastfeeds a starving man.

Jan 31, 2018

Sexual Content: Not actual sex scenes, but many references to laying with girls in the field. One character grabs a girl by the ankles when she tries to leave and makes her have sex, although she relents a bit of the way through.

Jan 31, 2018

Violence: A woman's hand is shot off and a main character's head is crushed, although this is not described graphically.

Jan 31, 2018

Coarse Language: Son-of-a-bitch, Goddammit, nigger; and others are used copiously.


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