The Grapes of Wrath short summary & analysis

The Grapes of Wrath


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The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

Categories:Classics, History & Criticism

The Grapes of Wrath Analysis

American Author John Steinback’s The Grapes of Wrath is a ground-breaking novel that is still regarded as his masterpiece. Publishing of The Grapes of Wrath in 1939 unquestionably caused a wave of shock and its influence has spread throughout United States. The novel has also earned John Steinback a Pulitzer Prize. The Grapes of Wrath mostly is a critique of capitalism. It tells the story of farmers and their families, who grew poorer with the capitalisation of the agriculture and were stripped off of their land; eventually starting an immigration wave towards the west.

The Grapes of Wrath progresses a bit slowly, but I believe it is very much worth reading. The novel contributes a lot to a reader. Steinback’s unique descriptions and storytelling gives us a taste of the 20th century United States.

The Grapes of Wrath Short Summary

When released on parole, Tom Joad closed his eyes and ears to any occasion that might put him back in jail. He fatally hit a boy for picking on him in a fight, and was released on parole. He was a firm believer that everything would go only well at this point. His only concern was to get back to his family. He even got a new suit on his way out of jail. He set off to see his family as soon as possible. He planned to go on foot, and perhaps hitchhike if he ever came across a truck. He never received from or sent any words, any letters to his family. Both him and his father knew how to read and write; yet he was never the type to write letters. Tom Joad only wrote on official documents, and indeed, never wrote to his own son either.

On his way, Tom came across a truck. The driver had set his mind on not taking any passengers along, however, Tom convinced him with his witty words. As the duo travelled, he found out the driver was a talker, he loved talking so much. Tom scared the driver away by admitting to killing a man, and continued the journey on foot.

Only a few meters from his home, Tom came across a man sitting by the road. He recognized the man as the former priest of the neighbourhood. After quitting the church, he became a strange man who sat by the road all alone. Tom, now accompanied by the priest, reached where his home once was, yet he found nothing but silence. His home was gone, and so was everything.

Soil of eastern United States was crumbling, getting more and more dry on each day without rain. Folks of the area grew poorer as they couldn’t farm anymore, and they had to get a loan from the bank in exchange for their land. Bankers dispossessed the folks of their own land via giant tractors. After said incident, Joad Family moved together with Uncle John. Tom was left agape upon the news. His family was getting ready for a journey to California like many others, as he heard from a neighbour who refused to leave the neighbourhood. There was a rumour that there was a need for thousands of workers to work in the gardens in California. At least, that’s what the leaflets promised.

Tom found his family on the verge of setting off. They had sold out everything for twentieth of the actual price, and purchased a truck. The family was on cloud nine as they see their beloved Tom again. They were blissful that they didn’t leave without him. As they set off, each family member on board was dreaming of working in the orange gardens of the west, buying one of the white houses there, and eat plenty as they wished. The leaflets gave hope to the family. However, they were unaware that the journey to California would be a very though one.