Dense Grapes

25 Jun

It’s not really what you expect grapes to be – they’re usually small, light, moist, sweet… but this is big, dry, dusty, and heavy.

For those who have forgotten what’s going on (and I wouldn’t blame you, it’s been a month or so), I’m currently reading The Grapes of Wrath.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting and reasonably enjoyable. The author does well at evoking the scene, not through detail of description, but through capturing the feeling of the farms the Joad family inhabit – the miles of crops, the heat, the dust. But it’s very emotionally tiring; the family are being forced to move because of the drought (based on events in Oklahoma in the 1930s) – the farms aren’t profitable enough, so the faceless corporation that owns the land is shoving them all together and claiming one man with a tractor can work umpteen farms more cost-effectively than several families.

You really feel the weight of these people being forced out of their homes, off the land that they’ve worked with their own hands. I’m not a farmer, but I can relate to the idea of owning something through having put your heart into working on it. Seems it’s an issue that still hasn’t been resolved today. Hooray for capitalism (*grumble mutter*).

You also feel the difficulty of the people who have to do the forcing; it’s not their decision, they’re desperate to feed their own families. They’re not painted as black-and-white villains, just people in a tough situation who’ve had to make a tough choice. The situation where there were several jobs, but now there’s only one. I’ve been through that sort of situation, too – there’s a sort of “survivor’s guilt” when other people at your workplace get laid off. The awkward indecision between idealism and practicality. It’s never fun, and you’re never sure if you’ve made the right decision or not.

So, yeah. I suspect it’s going to be slow going.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Grapes of Wrath


One response to “Dense Grapes

  1. Alison Jenkin

    June 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    The film with Henry Fonda may be worth watching once you’ve made you way through the book


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