Spoilers may (definitely do) follow.
But then there is some serious sickness going on and some pain and then the family is slightly less big. And then less big again.
And suddenly there is no more Grampa with his silly off-buttoned pants and his rants about never leaving his home, because really he died when he left his land, they say, and then Granma dies of... a broken heart? And Ma, the greatest woman of all time (and one who flies in the face of the traditional sexism of the time, yeah?), just lays up on the mattress with dead Granma so that the family can keep moving and your heart just breaks a little bit and you have to pause because it's just too much to keep reading all at once. Or at least that's how it was for me.
"Every night a world created, complete with furniture--friends made and enemies established; a world completed with braggarts and with cowards, with quiet men, with humble men, with kindly men. Every night relationships that make a world, established; and every morning the world torn down like a circus."I cannot imagine such a journey, such an undertaking, rolling on day into night into day into night, based on nothing but the hope of something better in the future. Steinbeck addresses this, of course, with the simple idea that a tough life isn't so tough when you consider the tougher alternative that you've left behind; it's as much a matter of what you're running from as what you're running to. But still. That's hard living, especially when people start to tell you that what you are running to is really not all that great. Or even worse than what you ran from.
But I am willing to forgive all of this because he also makes us feel all the things, so many things, and because the scene in Chapter Fifteen with the little kids eyeballing the candies and the tough old diner lady caving in and giving them two candies for a penny even though they are nickel candies.
|All the feelings.|
Also, what's with all the people so avidly running over animals in their cars? Anyone?
Halfway point summation: I really like this book, although I am glad to be reading it interspersed with other things because there is a lot of feeling happening. And animals (and people) dying. And kids starving.
Thoughts from other bookworms:
The Grapes of Wrath | John Steinbeck | Originally published 1939 | 619 pages | Buy from an independent near you