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The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition)
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Manufacturer: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 813.52
EAN: 9780142000663
ISBN: 0142000663
Label: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Manufacturer: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 464
Publication Date: 2002-01-08
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Release Date: 2002-01-03
Studio: Penguin (Non-Classics)

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Editorial Reviews:

MAXnotes offer a fresh look at masterpieces of literature, presented in a lively and interesting fashion. Written by literary experts who currently teach the subject, MAXnotes will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the work. MAXnotes are designed to stimulate independ ent thought about the literary work by raising various issues and thought-provoking ideas and questions. MAXnotes cover the essentials of what one should know about each work, including an overall summary, character lists, an explanation and discussion of the plot, the work's historical context, illustrations to convey the mood of the work, and a biography of the author. Each chapter is individually summarized and analyzed, and has study questions and answers.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: The Grapes of Wrath
Comment: The book came in great condition and in a timely manner. It was a pleasure doing business with this seller on Amazon.com

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: A top classic of American History...but some weaknesses
Comment: I love this book for a variety of reasons, and I'll share these before offering my criticisms:

1) Wonderful tale of a painful time and place in American history

2) Great characters - and powerful bonding between them. I loved their ability to sacrifice for each other - at great costs.

3) A metaphorically redemptive message: this book shows the strength of human perseverance in the face of awful odds

4) Incredible local color - accents, speech, behavior! John Steinbeck really knew his stuff, and brought it to LIFE! Kudos!

5) Beautiful writing - so many times Steinbeck wrote scenes that sing off the page, transcending the story, the characters, and himself

6) I just love Steinbeck's character of Preacher Casy. He adds such a strong dimension of honesty, emotional courage, and truth-seeking to the book... He's one of my favorite characters in all of literature.

My criticisms:

1) Having previously read this book fifteen years ago, I learned then that the "filler" chapters - the ones NOT about the Joad family - were unnecessary to the story, so I skipped them this time around. This made the book infinitely more readable and enjoyable. I would guess these skippable chapters account for about a third of the book's volume...

2) I found the ending cheesy - didn't like it fifteen years ago, and still don't. I won't go into details (don't want to be a spoiler), but I found it too intellectual and emotionally disconnected to the pulse of the story...
3) Steinbeck uses various of his characters (particularly Preacher Casy) to make all sorts of philosophical comments on life, but never does he state the obvious, much less come near it with a ten-foot pole: DON'T HAVE SO MANY KIDS! The whole book is about people trying desperately to feed their children - for whom they cannot provide. To me this leaves the parents - sharecroppers, who, at the best of times, had life REALLY hard - and not just society, responsible. Even ONE little comment to this effect would have been welcomed. Yet has anything changed since the 1930s? Does anyone suggest that starving adults in Darfur not have children? (Or the EMOTIONALLY starving adults right here in the rich USA???)

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A master at his craft!
Comment: I just finished reading "The Grapes of Wrath." Steinbeck's simple but poetic prose shows a mastery of subtlety and expertise. The dialog was very believable and realistic. The period in which J. Steinbeck wrote as did Hemingway was the realism movement, which never really strayed too long into what the characters were thinking or feeling. The characters words on the surface is what portrayed who they were and Steinbeck expertly reveals all of them, even down to his tertiary characters, Ruthie and Winfield. Ma Joad and Tom are beautifully realized as was Casey the former preacher.

If I have any quibble with the story, it's some of the chapters, which were a little too polemical and didactic. I felt Steinbeck trying too hard to drive his personal beliefs down my throat about "The Man versus the corporation and big business." Overall however, I still came away with great admiration for what he tried to accomplish with this story, considering we had just come out of the Depression only about five or six years later followed by the destructive Dust Bowls, created by man.

I now understand why this novel is considered in such high esteem by so many experts and admirers of fiction. "The Grapes of Wrath" is truly one of the great American novels!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: A Powerful Story of America
Comment: Amid the desperation of the 1930s Dust Bowl, drought and changing agricultural practices force a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers to leave their home and join the great migration to California. Piling their broken-down Hudson with the few possessions they can carry, the Joad family sets off for what they believe will be a paradise of bountiful fruit and plentiful work. When they arrive, enduring one hardship after another along the way, the California they find is not at all the one they imagined.

Though a work of fiction, "The Grapes of Wrath" is a painfully real story of what can happen when profit is placed over concern for one's fellow human beings. Like the Mexican migrant workers of today, the Joads flee desperate circumstances in search of a better future, only to find exploitation at the hands of wealthy farm owners and resentment on the part of the people already settled there. Enticed by handbills telling of the need for workers, the Joads discover that the farm owners are merely flooding the market so the starved migrants will fight for the lowest wages. There are constant attempts to keep the migrants in a state of helpless docility: their cardboard Hoovervilles are periodically burned (under the guise of "public sanitation") to keep them from settling down, and any attempt to assert their rights can result in being blacklisted as a "Communist." Meanwhile, they watch with simmering anger as perfectly good fruit is thrown away in order to keep prices up. The locals have little but fearful hostility for the people they derogatorily label "Okies," whom they view as less than human.

Despite their unending hardships, the Joad family pushes on with dogged perseverance, never losing their dignity. Even when the reader is tempted to lose hope, the Joads find the strength within themselves to push on.

One of the strengths of the novel is its characters, who are simultaneously flawed and admirable. The protagonist, Tom, is on parole after unintentionally killing a man in a fight. He can only make the journey by breaking his parole and must not be discovered, which creates an undercurrent of tension. When Pa's status as the head of the family is weakened by his inability to support the clan, Ma emerges as the family's indestructible backbone and one of the strongest characters. Along for the journey is Reverend Casy, the reluctant preacher and a kind of Christ figure, whose philosophical ruminations provide much of the book's social commentary.

It is ultimately the pregnant young Rose of Sharon who most embodies the story of loss, resilience, and renewal. Throughout the novel, she is an immature and emotionally fragile girl who seems defeated by the dashing of her dreams: her teenage husband, Connie, runs away, and her baby will be born into unbearable poverty. However, at the end she shows a tender heroism, and her actions in the book's final scene are powerful and unforgettable.

This is a deeply moving book. You will grieve for the Joad family's tragedies, all the more because these tragedies are largely the result of human folly and greed. But you will also dream along with them, and find hope in their resilience and will to survive.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: An amazing realistic book
Comment: I only actually have to read this book as a Summer Reading assignment for my AP English class. I'm not a really a big fan of books that have this genre but when I reached halfway through the book, I started loving it. I find the feelings portrayed in this novel clear enough for me to understand it with the help of vague dialogue of the characters. A message is there and though you need to read more to understand what they're saying, the reality is always present.

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