[Book Review] The Grapes of Wrath: A Powerful and Poignant Classic

RediksiaSaturday, 22 July 2023 | 05:35 GMT+0000
Book Review The Grapes of Wrath
Book Review The Grapes of Wrath

Diksia.com - is a novel by that was published in 1939 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and a masterpiece of .

The novel tells the story of the Joad family, a poor farming family from Oklahoma, who are forced to leave their home and migrate to California during the Great Depression and the .

Along the way, they face many hardships and injustices, but also encounter kindness and solidarity from other migrants and activists. The novel explores themes such as human dignity, social justice, family, religion, and the American dream.

The Grapes of Wrath is not only a historical document, but also a timeless and universal tale of survival and hope. It is a novel that speaks to the , and to the conflicts between the powerful and the powerless, the haves and the have-nots, the oppressors and the oppressed.

It is a novel that challenges us to question our values, our actions, and our responsibilities as citizens and as human beings. It is a novel that can inspire us to fight for a better world.

In this article, I will provide a detailed review of The Grapes of Wrath, covering its book details, recommended audience, overview, plot summary, characters and character development, theme and message, writing style, pros and cons, comparison to other works, and where to read the book. I hope you will find this review helpful and informative.

Book Details

  • Title: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Author: John Steinbeck
  • Genres: Classics, Fiction, ,
  • Chapters: 30
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Viking Press
  • Publication date: April 14, 1939
  • Rating: 4.00 out of 5 stars (based on ratings)
  • Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Novel (1940), National Book Award for Fiction (1939), Nobel Prize in Literature (1962)

Recommended Audience

The Grapes of Wrath is a novel that can be enjoyed by readers of different ages and backgrounds. However, it is not an easy or light read.

It is a long and complex novel that deals with serious and mature topics such as poverty, violence, oppression, exploitation, death, hunger, and injustice.

It also contains some graphic scenes and strong language that may not be suitable for younger or sensitive readers. Therefore, I would recommend this novel to readers who are:

  • At least 16 years old or older
  • Interested in American history, especially the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl
  • Interested in social issues and human rights
  • Interested in realistic and naturalistic fiction
  • Willing to invest time and attention to appreciate the depth and richness of the novel


The Grapes of Wrath is divided into 30 chapters that alternate between two types: narrative chapters that follow the story of the Joad family; and intercalary chapters that provide broader perspectives on the social, economic, political, and environmental conditions of the time.

The novel is set in the 1930s during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, a period of severe drought and dust storms that affected millions of farmers in the Great Plains region of the . Many farmers lost their land due to foreclosure or erosion, and were forced to migrate westward in search of work and a better life.

However, they faced hostility and exploitation from the local residents and authorities in California, who saw them as unwanted intruders and cheap labor.

The novel begins with Tom Joad returning to his family farm in Oklahoma after serving four years in prison for manslaughter. He meets Jim Casy, a former preacher who has lost his faith but still believes in helping people.

Together they find out that Tom's family has been evicted from their land by a bank agent who represents large landowners who want to consolidate their properties.

They join Tom's family at his uncle's farm where they prepare to leave for California with their truck loaded with their belongings.

Along with Tom's parents (Pa and Ma), his grandparents (Grampa and Granma), his siblings (Noah, Al, Rose of Sharon, Ruthie, Winfield), his brother-in-law (Connie), his uncle (Uncle John), his friend (Casy), they form part of a larger group of migrants known as “Okies”.

The journey to California is long and arduous. They encounter many difficulties such as mechanical breakdowns, lack of food and water, highway patrolmen, scams, illnesses, deaths, and violence. They also meet other migrants who share their stories and their hopes.

They learn about the harsh realities of California, where there is not enough work or land for everyone, and where they are discriminated and oppressed by the wealthy landowners and their agents.

They witness the contrast between the abundance and waste of the rich and the hunger and misery of the poor. They also witness the emergence of labor unions and strikes that challenge the status quo and demand fair wages and treatment.

The novel ends with a climactic scene in which Tom kills a deputy who has shot Casy during a strike. He escapes and hides in the mountains, where he tells his mother that he will continue Casy's work of fighting for justice and freedom.

He leaves his family with a promise to be with them wherever they go. The family moves on to a new camp, where they find shelter in a boxcar with other migrants. There, Rose of Sharon gives birth to a stillborn baby, which they bury in the mud.

The novel closes with a symbolic scene in which Rose of Sharon breastfeeds a starving man in a barn, showing an act of compassion and humanity in the midst of despair and hopelessness.

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