Yayyyyy, first post of Laura’s The Grapes of Wrath readalong!!!
Ohhhhh, Steinbeck. You are going to be interesting.
I’ve enjoyed reading these first 11 chapters, but I’m not gonna lie – I’ve had a lot of WTF moments. Like the first chapter – seriously? FOR REAL? Was that a chapter all about dust? But then I realized that even though it was just about dust, it also totally set the stage for the book – how bad of a drought is going on, and how hard it is on the families, and how much everyone relied on the men to figure out what the hell to do. And then I realized that Steinbeck is going to be a crafty bastard here.
Second chapter is where we first meet the young Tom Jones, and doesn’t he come off as a creepy one? I was worried he was about to go all serial-killer and try to kill the truck driver. But alas, I was wrong, and it turns out that I kind of like T.J. so far. I like that even though he killed a guy in self-defense, he’s not all mopey about it. He’s totally like “Yeah, and I’d do that shit again.” I like that. Seems like a nice kid.
Third chapter was about an EFFING TURTLE CROSSING THE ROAD. WTF? And here’s where I started to think that maybe Steinbeck did a spot of drugs while writing this book? Any one know for sure?
So anyways, after that things started to even out and I liked most of the rest of the chapters, except that weird cars salesman chapter. You all know what happened. So, thoughts. I have them.
Chapter 5 I think is where I started to actually like the book. That was an angry chapter. You can totally feel the anger and indignation and outrage that these families are being forced off of land that’s been in their family for generations. (Although the spiteful part of me thinks “Well, now you know what the Native Americans felt like, and you’re not even being systematically killed”.) And I LOVED the anger towards the banks.
“The bank – the monster has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.”
“The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.”
I get that coming from the employees of the bank, this sounds like excuses, but they were right back then and it certainly applies even more now. The entire world economy would collapse without banks, and SO MUCH of adult life depends on how good your credit score is. This part of the book is what convinced me to go buy my own copy of the book, because I wanted to underline in the book but couldn’t cause it’s from the library. This chapter also makes me glad that I did NOT read this is high school. High school Sarah would not have been able to appreciate the sentiment here, because it’s only as an adult that I’ve noticed how much banks control everything and how much they can screw you over too. So yeah, Steinbeck won me over a bit with that.
Also, it should be mentioned that even though the Joads kind of tried to make the tractor driver feel guilty, I’m mostly on his side. It’s a totally shitty situation, but I am kind of the type to worry about my own family first. He found a job, and he’s got kids to feed. I get it.
In chapter 6, I liked the rant about prison – how it doesn’t really do what it’s intended to do, and in fact prison life is a lot easier than life in the real world, in some ways. (Actually, for those of you that read my Sarah Sunday posts – this is totally true of my dad. He’s so much better off in jail.) This chapter also made me really hungry, because that rabbit sounded DELISH. I have recipes waiting for when I finally get my hands on some fresh rabbit meat.
And those were my big thoughts. Otherwise, the rest of this section was pretty good – sad, how they had to leave so much behind. I liked the imagery of what a desolate place it was when people left. It was impressive.
Actually, impressed is a good word. So far I am impressed. I didn’t expect to have this much to say – it’s not nearly as boring as I was afraid it would be, and I’m having fun writing down my thoughts and stuff on sticky notes after each chapter. I even started chatting to the honeyman about it all. YAY, literary discussions with the boyfriend.
So, what’s everyone else think?