Slight-Spoiler Alert: But don't worry, it doesn't ruin the book :)
The Grapes of Wrath is, simply put, an American classic with a powerful message that resonates generation after generation. Set during the Dust Bowl, the novel tells the story of a family from Oklahoma and their journey to California, the promise land. On a superficial level, all characters are endearing icons of perseverance in the face of tribulation. Nonetheless, this book is acclaimed for its beautiful imagery on one hand and earth-shattering underlying themes on the other. John Steinbeck starts writing by alternating chapters, one painting the bigger picture of the Dust Bowl and the next developing the intricate plot that leads the Joads down Route 66. Filled with biblical allusions and a myriad of subtle literary elements, it's virtually impossible to catch all of this book's significance in only one read. My favorite way to explore this piece of literature is to probe for religious references and interpret them in context. Metaphors are all over the characters's names -- Jim Casey, for instance, alludes to Jesus Christ -- as well as in the development of characterization. From the parting of the Red Sea to Noah's Deluge, from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane, Steinbeck will take your breath away with the style he uses to convey his messages against established religion and favorable of communal living. Reading this book is certainly a rewarding experience: the wording is not difficult, there are no crazy plot twists, and it's not the kind of novel that keeps you guessing (for the most part). Nevertheless, there is much to be read in between the lines, and once the reader masters the art of interpreting Steinbeck, the book truly becomes alive, and there is no end to this tale forever lives in the hearts and minds of those who appreciate John Steinbeck's message.
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