Steinbeck’s book is very political, depicting the worst of a selfish capitalistic country that values profit more than people, and assertively proposing instead the equality and philanthropy of socialism. However, Steinbeck also delves deeply into the more abstract themes of religion, hope, suffering and sacrifice. The book proved spectacularly thought-provoking to me, and has significantly impacted my view on life in general, and on politics especially.
Steinbeck clearly crafted this work very carefully and intricately. Each page has a rhythm to it, and Steinbeck writes the speech of each character as it is intended to be read, with the sayings and accents and quirks appropriate to his background. I could not help but read the book out loud. However, it is undeniably a difficult read. Though not of any particular concern to me, the book is long, but what makes it challenging is that Steinbeck apparently exhausts a good deal of his expansive vocabulary as he describes the minutest details of each scene, the story at some points seeming to drag along altogether too slowly. In addition, Steinbeck is not bashful and generously supplies the reader with the profane language and vulgar imagery that would come naturally to one from such a background as his characters. (I am usually able to tolerate or overlook such “cultured” language, but even still there were numerous times when I would turn red and timidly drop my voice to an imperceptible whisper.) Patience and no small amount of caution are necessary to read this book, but to those who can I would strongly recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and consider it so far my greatest accomplishment as a reader.
A captivating and absorbing story and a beautifully crafted novel, I highly recommend The Grapes of Wrath to those who are ready to meet Steinbeck’s challenge. I myself look forward to rereading this book in the not-so-distant future.
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