What an odd book The Grapes of Wrath is.
Interesting family dynamics (even if there is some worrying old-fashioned gender relations), remarkably topical issues (more on this later), emotionally draining at times, yet it takes more than 400 pages before you find out the reason for the title, and the ending made me want to throw the book across the room.
This was an unfamiliar experience for me. Sure, I’ve gotten annoyed at books before, but it’s been either that it’s not what I was expecting (in which case I give up on reading it), or the characters are behaving stupidly (in which case I’m usually compelled to continue to find out if it bites them in the posterior or not). Here, it was just the ending. It just felt like a non-ending, like the end of a chapter and the rest of the book has been left out.
To be fair, I’m sure that it probably has some deep symbolic significance, “triumph of the human spirit over adversity”, yadda yadda… Besides that, it would probably seem far more important to someone of the time (70 years ago) – controversial even, whereas today the reaction is more “Ooo…kay? That’s a bit wierd, but I’ll accept it.”
But anyway, on to the *ahem* burning issue. I found it rather eerie to be reading this and seeing the news about rioting in Britain, which seems to be of a similar stripe. And as was wisely said (by Russell Brand of all people!), it’s worth looking into the motivations for the chaos, as dismissing it glibly as “mindless” doesn’t address the underlying issues.
If you have a lot of people (like, say, farmers from Oklahoma), in a situation where they have very little power, money, or prospects, then they will feel resentful; unfairly treated; mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore. What they then do with those feelings is another matter, but if you sow and nurture the seeds of resentment you will harvest the grapes of wrath.
Please bear in mind that I am not condoning or supporting the riots, or even saying that they were inevitable. People can choose to express their frustrations in far-less destructive ways. But lets not punish the child for striking out and ignore the needling from the one who was struck.
Gosh. Getting awfully political-like there. Um… look, a convenient distraction! *flees*