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Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH:

This is surprising to me.  I wil have to read the links provided by Peppermill and IBIS.

  


scout88 wrote:
Something that my grandpa (who was born and raised in Oklahoma, and was actually a small child during the dust bowl) told me the other day that I thought was interesting, was that many Okies hated Steinbeck after he wrote the novel. They believed that Steinbeck's portrayal of the migrants was inaccurate and insulting.  I suppose they thought Steinbeck wrote them as ignorant. I was shocked to hear that, as Steinbeck seems to be completely siding with the Okies, and simply wanting to tell of their plight. What does everyone else think? Was there any reason for them to be upset?

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH:

Laura -- decided to see if I could find a clearer chronicle of what Scout reported.  I thought the University of Oklahoma site might be a place to look.  So far, I haven't been successful, but I did find this rather fascinating short biography of Colonel Morehead.

 

Very scary is the statistic of 25% unemployment.  I hope our government and businesses have learned enough to avoid a similar scenario from developing now.

 

"In his 90 years, Bruce Morehead has ground out a living on a hardscrabble farm 10 miles from the University of Oklahoma, ridden the rails as a hobo in search of work in desperate times, dueled enemy planes over the Pacific and Europe, hunted and fished in the farthest reaches beyond the Arctic Circle and the Amazon jungle, and parlayed a small cash stake into a profitable real estate development company."

 


Fozzie wrote:

This is surprising to me.  I wil have to read the links provided by Peppermill and IBIS.

  


scout88 wrote:
Something that my grandpa (who was born and raised in Oklahoma, and was actually a small child during the dust bowl) told me the other day that I thought was interesting, was that many Okies hated Steinbeck after he wrote the novel. They believed that Steinbeck's portrayal of the migrants was inaccurate and insulting.  I suppose they thought Steinbeck wrote them as ignorant. I was shocked to hear that, as Steinbeck seems to be completely siding with the Okies, and simply wanting to tell of their plight. What does everyone else think? Was there any reason for them to be upset?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007

Re: GRAPES OF WRATH:

[ Edited ]

"Grapes of Wrath

 

"John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel created an uproar in Oklahoma, and several politicians denounced the book. In the Jack Nichols Collection (box 1, folder 27) is correspondence between the congressman and Samuel Boorstin on Steinbeck. Lyle Boren denounced the book on the floor of the House in January 1940. In his Subject Correspondence files is a folder titled “Grapes of Wrath” with the text of his speech and correspondence detailing his viewpoint."

 

We don't get any details here, but here is a link to what appears to be a historian's trove of information on Oklahoma during the Depression:  Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives.

 

This is from the Lyle H. Boren files:

 

"...He [Boren] attracted national attention for his extreme criticism of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Calling it a 'dirty, lying, filthy manuscript,' the congressman believed that the book was an insult to farmers and was created by a 'twisted, distorted mind.'"

 

 

Inventory:

 

"Box/Folder Number: 6/49
"Folder Titles and Dates: Subject, Grapes of Wrath, 1940.

 

"Topics include William J. Holloway, Will Rogers, John Steinbeck, United States Post Office Dept, Grapes of Wrath, tenant farmers in California, and tenant farmers in Oklahoma. Correspondents include Charles Arthur Anderson and Philip Bancroft."

 

Two pictures of Congressman Boren are here.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 07-14-2009 11:35 PM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH: Oklahoma

[ Edited ]

Excerpts from a fun and fascinating article about Oklahoma:

 

"I took him out west to the nation's first shelterbelt. At 60 years, it’s a towering forest on plains plowed to the horizon."

 

(Shelterbelts, planted to slow the winds of the Dirty Thirties, have been called a living monument to Roosevelt, some 150 miles wide, from Texas to the Canadian border.)

 

 

"In territorial days, Oklahoma's neighbors weren't much concerned about those Indians, but they were very worried about outlaws. And here, I suspect, long before John Steinbeck was born, is the true beginning of the national prejudice against Oklahoma...."

 

 

 

"It was damning enough to the reputation of Oklahoma that its settlers should have been predominantly Southern and impoverished, but things quickly grew worse, because these same settlers were with breathtaking speed drawn into mortgages and—night following day--sharecropping tenancies. By 1900, an astonishing 40% of the state's farmers were tenants. So much for the myth of the yeoman homesteader: by 1910 an outright majority of Oklahoma's homesteaders had succumbed to cropperdom. By 1930 the figure exceeded 60%, and in 1942 Carey McWilliams would write savagely that tenancy had made Oklahoma the nation's 'sump-hole of poverty.' Nearly a third of the state's farm population--more than 250,000 people--were moving in the pre-war years from one farm to another every year. The numbers are hard to believe, but they are there for the examining, in Oklahoma’s agricultural-experiment-station reports.


"John Steinbeck, in short, found Oklahoma's reputation waiting for him. Not that he himself was critical of Oklahomans: that's obvious enough from The Grapes of Wrath. Still, Steinbeck was forced to write apologetically that he had 'had no intention of insulting a people who are already insulted beyond endurance.'


"It didn't much matter; people need to be able to point to people worse off than they are, and Oklahoma through the 1930s helped meet that need for Americans. How else are we to explain California's failed attempt to close its borders to what Los Angeles officials called 'ndigent alien transients'? How else explain why the welfare director of Tulare County played the Southern-culture card in saying 'you can't change the habits of primitive people'?"

 

From: "Oklahoma: Where the Jokes Wear Thin" by Bret Wallach

Message Edited by Peppermill on 07-14-2009 11:14 PM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH:

Pepper, thank you for these links. I loved the description of Steinbeck's "twisted, distorted mind."

 

People were so free in their verbal criticism in those days..... NOT. 

 


Peppermill wrote:

"Grapes of Wrath

 

"John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel created an uproar in Oklahoma, and several politicians denounced the book. In the Jack Nichols Collection (box 1, folder 27) is correspondence between the congressman and Samuel Boorstin on Steinbeck. Lyle Boren denounced the book on the floor of the House in January 1940. In his Subject Correspondence files is a folder titled “Grapes of Wrath” with the text of his speech and correspondence detailing his viewpoint."

 

This is from the Lyle H. Boren files:

 

"...He [Boren] attracted national attention for his extreme criticism of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Calling it a 'dirty, lying, filthy manuscript,' the congressman believed that the book was an insult to farmers and was created by a 'twisted, distorted mind.'"

 

 


 

 

IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH: The Novel (spoilers, ok)

[ Edited ]

I've finished GofW, and I have mixed responses.  I fully expected to love it... add it to my list of most satisfying reading experiences.  But in the end, I was left with an unpleasant, sour taste in my mouth.

 

The book’s reputation preceded it… a Pulitzer Prize, a Nobel Prize for Steinbeck… international acclaim… an American classic… millions of copies sold internationally… selling thousands of paperback copies a year. All this should have made me love GoW.

 

But as Connie wrote in one of her earlier posts… Good art in fiction simply tells a story. A political viewpoint might be argued to come out of the story, but that should not be the purpose of the fiction. Readers don’t want to read a “tract” arguing some political viewpoint.

 

Throughout the book, and especially when I finished it, I felt overwhelmed and badgered by Steinbeck’s authorial narrative voice… . I felt hammered by his political agenda. The inter-chapters had a somewhat preachy tone. At times, his writing reminded me of the moral bluntness of bible stories.... at other times, the scoldings of a soapbox politician.

 

I’m sure few people will agree with me, but I had a hard time believing that the characters acted like real people.  I thought they behaved like the author’s pawns. I was always aware of this undercurrent throughout the novel… that Steinbeck was manipulating the characters like an invisible puppet master.

 

And, as a consequence, I felt manipulated as well.

 


ConnieK wrote: 

 

What do you think of this classic American novel?


 

 

Message Edited by IBIS on 07-27-2009 09:15 AM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH: The Novel (spoilers, ok)

After finishing TGOW, I felt empty and sad. Nothing was solved and there was continual misery for the family. This was a family that had tried to stay together through everything, but, in the end, couldn't do it. I guess I hadn't read this in high school because I thought there would be some kind of hope at the end, some kind of closure for the book. But, there wasn't any for me. Time for a lighter, happier read. LOL

 

What did I learn? I learned Steinbeck's political thoughts and read through his dissertations. I learned that many people keep repeating the same behaviors expecting different results (insanity) and don't look back in history. I also revisited the fact that reading classics as an adult totally changes my view of the storyline, at least in most cases. It was interesting and I have totally enjoyed the conversation.

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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carpediem123
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-26-2011
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Re: GRAPES OF WRATH: The Novel (spoilers, ok)

I am currently taking an AP English class and am through chapter 15 of TGOW. So far I enjoy it immensely. At first I could not get use to the alternating chapter styles. It wasn't until later that I began to appreciate them.

 

The shorter, more philosophical, chapters are called the "intercallary" chapters. Steinbeck uses this pattern to compare and contrast "micro" and "macro." The longer, narrative chapters would be the "micro" chapters, focussing completely on the Joads and there quest for California. The "macro" chapters would then be the shorter chapters. the macro chapters play a very important role in GoW. They take what the reader knows about the Joads and applies it to a broader character base (car salesman, turtle, Mae the waitress, etc.) By doing this, Steinbeck is telling the reader that the Joads are not in an unusaul situation and that every person living in the Midwest at the time was, in one way or another, affected by "the dust bowl."