I share optimistic & constructive books from writers committed to excellence in litterature. My favorites books leave me with a sense of lightness and freedom in my heart. "To love is to act" (Victor Hugo)
I read 'The Grapes of Wrath' first when I was a teenager. Recently, I re-read it, along with ‘Working Days: the journal of the Grapes of Wrath’, and I could understand this novel a lot better through the perspective of the author.
For example, I saw why Steinbeck separated the General Chapters from the Specific ones and why he alternated them, what was the role of the rain in the story, and why he built Ma Joad the way he did. I found reading the two books together moved me a lot more than before.
Tom’s encounter with Casey at the beginning of the story laid the foundation for the transformation of their lives: for Tom, resurrection of his spirituality; for Casey, the resurrection of his practicality. A great complementary role, portrayed subtly and progressively.
The symbol of the tortoise is significant: Tom moving on a perilous ground, being hit by hostilities that throws him off balance, but then he finds his direction again, just like the tortoise. The novel is full of such effective parallels.
For me, it’s one of the rare American novels where I could have access to the inner thoughts of the characters, which makes the novel intimate.
The construction of the micro-society is certainly Steinbeck’s vision of the ideal society, but he didn’t keep his characters in that illusive security. He did just enough to pull them out of the misery, and then left the readers to imagine the end.
The final act of Rose of the Sharon seems so much more powerful because Steinbeck had set her up from the beginning as just the opposite!
But, for me, the most powerful character in the story remains Ma Joad, for her maturity, wisdom, patience, and resilience. Rarely, have I come across a feminine character like her.