Why does a novel from 1939 about a migrant family in search of work during the Great Depression still resonate with readers in the 21st century? The answer is simple: look around. After the recession of 2008, this story maintains its relevance, especially with many students whose parents lost their jobs and/or careers as a result of the 2008 crash. The universal themes of the pursuit of the American Dream, perseverance, and the struggle against injustice, are still found in many aspects of American life today. As a result, The Grapes of Wrath has been hailed as one of the defining novels of American literature.
Imagery in The Grapes of Wrath | Photos from the Dust Bowl
“The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the gray country.”
“The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects.”
“Fruit trees took the place of grain fields, and vegetables to feed the world spread out on the bottoms: lettuce, cauliflower, artichokes, potatoes... A man may stand to use a scythe, a plow, a pitchfork; but he must crawl like a bug between the rows of lettuce, he must bend his back and pull his long bag between the cotton rows, he must go on his knees like a penitent across a cauliflower patch.”
“The moving, questing people were migrants now. Those families which had lived on a little piece of land, who had lived and died on forty acres, who had eaten or starved on the produces of forty acres, had now the whole West to rove in… Behind them more were coming.”
“And all the time the fruit swells and the flowers break out in long clusters on the vines. And in the growing year the warmth grows and the leaves turn dark green.”
“Over the high coast mountains and over the valleys the gray clouds marched in from the ocean. The wind blew fiercely and silently, high in the air, and it swished in the brush, and it roared in the forests.”