My first pass at the first section of The Grapes of Wrath and all its grapey wrathful dustiness was the perfect reminder of why I really do love Steinbeck, leaving me with tons of underlines and a bagillion dogeared pages and a few pages with dogears on the top and bottom. That good. (For directions on how to dog ear a page, click here. PS -- I have no idea why that article needs to exist. Dogearing pages is not freaking complicated, even if it is a polarizing topic.)
I did not read the introduction, despite being tempted to do so in order to put this oh-so-important title into its proper context. I read the introduction to Anna Karenina and it GAVE AWAY THE ENDING so never again, I tell you, never again.
So I started with Chapter 1, and was blown away (pun!) by all the dust. Dust everywhere, coating everything, lots of crop failures, dust, dust, dust.
And then we meet the truck driver and the hitchhiker and are left to wonder for a bit which of them is the important one, or if they both are, until the hitchhiker is dropped off and meets the preacher (ex-preacher, I suppose), and suddenly people have names and the truck driver is gone. But not before we meet the turtle.
The first part of this book is not depressing, except for the bits that are (the slimey car dealer and the ongoing churnings of the man, and the forced departure from the land they've lived in all the while), but I can tell that Steinbeck is about to take us on a crazy up-down ride of emotions, no? These poor people, the Joads and their neighbors and even Muley, are so damn hopeful and adamant in their decisions, so dependent on things turning out ok in the end, that it is like Steinbeck has hung a sign on the first page that says: Caution. Sad ending ahead.
|Part of me knows this gif doesn't belong here, |
but a larger part of me thinks it is too fun not to include.
There's also the incredibly heartbreaking scene(s?) where the Joads pack up their things, and all of the bits that make up a life--and makes you think about all of the STUFF you know you own, and what you'd take with you vs. what you'd burn (because obviously burning things is the most practical solution here)--and all of memories that are inherently tied to a place, to an object, to a thing:
"There's a premium goes with this pile of junk and the bay horses-so beautiful-a packet of bitterness to grow in your house and flower, some day."
"How can we live without our past lives? How will we know it's us without our past? No. Leave it. Burn it."
There's a lot more here, but NyQuil is making me stop now. I promise I'll be better next week. For now, though, I can just say I really like this book. So far. And I haven't cried. Yet.