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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on May 23, 2005
The story starts with George and Lennie running away from their previous town of occupation, where Lennie, in his childlike manner, wants to touch a girl's red dress but doesn't let go, resulting in shouts of rape, mass chaos, and the pair of them getting chased out of town (you don't learn all this immediately, though.) They find work at a nearby ranch, which is where most of the story takes place.
One of the things that immediately stuck out to me about this book is Steinbeck's writing style. Heavily focused on dialogue, the overall terseness and efficient use of words is only interrupted occasionally when Steinbeck describes a new scene, where he goes into great detail. Otherwise, all you see on paper is exactly what you need to understand the story; this prevents it from dragging too much, and it allows the story to progress more quickly without spending forever on the same topic. This results in a natural flow of events that won't leave you reading the same thing re-stated 10 times; as a result, you'll want to read more because you know good things are always around the turn of the page. To almost put it in a blatantly simple manner, this reads like a very complex bedtime story.
Probably the thing that sticks out most to me is the incredibly well portrayed characters. Steinbeck takes a very Hemingway-like approach in both quantity and quality of characters; he keeps the book very condensed in terms of plots, sub-plots, complex characters, etc ...(it's barely 100 pages), which means you won't be scratching your head after every chapter going, "What on earth just happened?" It's a testament to his writing style that each character is so individually portrayed in a span of barely 100 pages, yet I didn't feel like anything was missing; I could visualize every one of the characters in real life. He does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters simply through what they say, not having to rely on superfluous dialogue or extraneous details to get their personalities across.
Finally, the ending of Of Mice and Men is very powerful. It illustrates a theme that must have been particularly prevalent in them minds of most people during the Great Depression: "When do we draw the line on tolerance and do what has to be done?" Although the entire book is impressive in its lucidity, the ending is particularly impressive because it brings extreme tragedy to the novel without a change in style; it's perfectly believable, yet not something you really want to believe. Part of it is due to the memorable characters (I assure you you won't forget Lennie after the ending of the book), part of it is just Steinbeck's genius. Pick up a copy of this classic book! Another novel I need to recommend -- completely unrelated to Steinbeck, but very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an exceptional, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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on July 4, 2004
As a Junior AP English student, I was bombarded with summer work, and my assignments included chosing a summer book to read from a selected list. I chose the "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, and was immeadiatly captured in the sad story of the Joads and there turbulent Oddessy. Sad and depressing yes, but hopeless it is not; if anything this book is about hope and compassion and empathy for others, and for many of us, including the characters in this novel, that is a lesson learned the hard way. There will probably never be a writer as talented as John Steinbeck; he has a way of making you not only imagine, but feel what is happening in his story. Steinbeck uses his great skill to show both great beauty and harsh reality, and I hope at the time this book was published that it caused political uproar and brought the people in American aristocracy down to Earth to realize what was occurring. Although people moving from Oklahoma to California are the least of our great nation's worries, the thoughts expressed in this book have the power to open the eyes of Americans to many troubling situations that exist today.
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on January 22, 2004
The Grapes of Wrath was written by John Steinbeck. It basically describes the tragedy of the Oklahoma sandstorms. The first section of the book is nothing more than a very detailed chapter, describing the sandstorms and the lives of the people living in Oklahoma at this period of time. Steinbeck does a great job at describing the miserable life of these people. I thought this was an essential part of the book because it set the mood of the book. It showed the reader, right away, what was going on in the world, and how horrible it was, before he gets into the characters of the story.
During this horrible time, a family decides to leave Oklahoma like every other family was. They decide to travel to California in search for some fortune from the Gold Rush. Their trip is very long and harsh. They all travel across the country with a carriage and a couple of horses. They experience a lot of hardships on their journey. Close to the end of their trip a family member dies because of a disease in their foot. When the family finally gets to California they are expecting an easy life and they are expecting happiness but all they find is more poverty, like in Oklahoma. Nothing was different.
This is the part of the book when I finally realized the family's pain. I finally started to feel really bad for them. This is a huge reason why I loved this book. Towards the end of the book I had serious feelings for the characters. It amazed me.
The Grapes of Wrath doesn't have a very complex plot. It actually doesn't have much of a plot at all. It simply follows a family through a period of their life.
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on July 20, 2013
My son needed this book for his English course. I had actually taught it myself. It was a pleasure to revisit the characters, the theme, the era. A classic story and at such an affordable price.
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on July 9, 2003
This book is probably the most influential book that I've ever read. It has truly opened my eyes to a different time to help me appreciate the life that I have, now. The story follows the Joad family; they are heading West, to California, after being kicked off of the land that they farmed and were sharecroppers on. The Joads have heard that California is fruitful, rich, and beautiful. What they don't know is that 300,000 people just like them are also heading West to the "green pastures". Along the road, they battle death, hunger, and fatigue. When they get to California, they battle poverty, crooked authorities, and hunger. The family struggles to find work and find a decent place to camp. The story has varying chapters. One chapter is a generalization of what is happening at each stage of the migrants' journies. These chapters use vivid descriptions, metaphors, and history to create a picture for the reader. The other chapters are specific to the Joad family with plenty of personal adventures and dialogue. With each new chapter comes more intrigue, hardache, and adversities. Excellent, emotional portrayal of this devastating time period. I would have liked if there was a little more closure at the end. The book is long as it is, but I was left wondering about some of the characters. I guess it's just one of those cravings, same with movies, when you never want it to end. Steinbeck has opened up a world, to me, that is begging to be delved into and researched. I can't wait to learn more about what I read.
This book has really made me think about my life and the gratitude that I owe to everyone in my life. It's excellent to find that feeling of true thankfulness.
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on August 26, 2003
"I figgered the devil was the enemy. But they's somepin worse'n the devil got hold a country, an it ain't gonna let go till it's chopped loose."
Grapes Of Wrath is the story of the desperate battle of migrant labourers with the rich, greedy, malevolent and the mean. When the Joads arrive in California from their native Oklahoma, their troubles and tribulations are rewarded not by bounty, but by even more hardship. What ensues is a timeless battle. It is waged by the spirit of the downtrodden on the one side, and by the mercenary mean muscle of the other. The story is primordial and resonates with any reader with a sense for perception.
The classic work of fiction describes a world where the rich, with their glitzy cars, ride alone and never mind hitting a man or a noble dog should one come in their way. Then there is the poor and oppressed who, despite their condition, extend a hand time and time again and never forget what is important on the great round dustbowl. The wheel in the sky seems to work against those who toil and possess a heart, but cruelty and oppression are exposed as mere facades that once removed reveal nothing more than a faceless corporate entity bereft of the right to exist.
It is in this setting that John Steinbeck writes in amazingly authentic and sanguine dialogue the flight of the strong-at-heart from, and again into, the belly of a system bent on browbeating compassion, kindness and veracity.
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Some of the reviewers view this masterpiece as being a clear and historical view of the oppression felt by tens of thousands during this era. There can be no denial of this obvious fact. As this historical novel is read you not only see through the eyes of the author's characters but experience the smells, the sounds, and, most importantly, the emotional impact on the lives of the displaced sharecroppers. Other, less favorable, reviewers find this novel both depressing and very slow moving. With them I also agree for the life of the Joad's was neither joyful nor fast-paced and Steinbeck made certain that we experienced the mundaneness of their existence. My additional conclusion is that this tale can also be viewed as an allegorical of life of Universal Man. Yes, the events are magnified, the helplessness more keenly felt, the oppressors were even more foul and the Joad's life path was even more tragic, but, that being said, we are all like the Joad's and remain powerless against the slings and arrows that society throws at us. Like the Ma Joad, all we want is a peaceful end to our life story..........
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on June 19, 2003
Let me preface this review by saying that I absolutely LOVE Steinbeck. I would consider him one of my five favorite authors. I think East of Eden is one of my favorite books of all time. I especially like Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat. I even liked The Wayward Bus.
HOWEVER, having said that, I must say that I cannot handle The Grapes of Wrath. My tolerance for pain is not nearly high enough. I have to be honest - I've never actually read the entire book. It's much to difficult to read through the tears in my eyes. I am sure that it is, like most of his other novels, a well-written, fascinating account of the lives of some very interesting people. I simply cannot willingly subject myself to such abject despair. I read novels for enjoyment, and I don't enjoy the feeling of having my heart pulled apart piece by piece, page by page.
Undoubtedly it is to Steinbeck's great credit that he is able to draw that kind of emotion out of a person through simple words on a page. Only one or two books have ever been able to move me in that way. Unfortunately, it is not a feeling I desire. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. The book made me want to open up a vein, but apparently millions of people loved it...
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on June 28, 2004
While I'm normally one to stick with the bestseller list or an Oprah recommendation such as "Da Vinci Code" or "Bark of the Dogwood," I do like to go back and revisit the classics. And "Grapes" IS a classic. "The Grapes of Wrath" is a compelling novel dealing with the many hardships the Joad family undergoes while struggling to survive during the depression. John Steinbeck takes the readers on an emotional roller coaster as each chapter introduces new twists and turns hooking the reader and bringing them in. Throughout their endeavors the characters seem to transform and take on new roles; whether it be a desperate man trying to forget the past, live in the present and move into the future, a hopeless reverend striving to find meaning and holiness in life or a husband coping with failure and the fact that he cannot support let alone take care of his family without the strength and guidance of his wife. The story builds up until even the last sentence and I guarantee it will take your breath away.
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on June 24, 2013
I would recommend this product to anybody who loved the book and is looking for an 'old' copy but isn't necessarily a collector looking for first editions. The shape the book was in was perfect! you could tell it was old, the pages were slightly yellowed, and one corner was slightly dog eared, but for a book from this long ago, it was excellent and nicely worn. Super pleased with my purchase.
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