- Year Published: 1939.
- Pages: 464.
The Grapes of Wrath Summary
The story happened during the year 1930s, also known as the Dust Bowl. This period is marked by intense drought and soil erosion along with damaging dust storms and terrible weather in Oklahoma. This period of Great Depression marks an era of strife, hardships, and poverty. Grapes of Wrath tells the life of Tom Joad and his family, along with thousands of migrant laborers seeking better lives in the West.
After he was released from prison, Tom Joad meets a man named Jim Casy, who was formerly a preacher. The two set out on their way to Tom’s family, who were planning on moving to California to seek a better life. Casy accompanies the entire Joad clan during their journey which was marked by terrible events and tragedies.
Grandpa Joad died just right after the clan set out on their travel. Along the way, they met the Wilsons who were also experiencing the same problem as everyone else. The two families made their way towards California, only to be disappointed and mislead by a couple of false advertisements meant to drive in thousands of workers in the city.
Upon arriving at the first camp, Grandma Joad fell ill and eventually died. Traveling to another settlement, the Joads and Jim Casey experience oppression from police officers and fellow migrants as well as maltreatment of laborers. A certain day came when a fight broke up with the sheriff and some of the workers over the plan of organizing a union. In order to save Tom from being sent back to prison, Casy took the blame for the fight and was eventually captured by police forces.
The story went on with the Joad clan falling apart and moving on to a government-run facility. Here, they experience a better life with more dignity as fellow residents treat them fairly with kindness. The story progresses with police officers planning on setting off violence to capture the migrant laborers, which they didn’t have any success.
Because jobs were limited and opportunities were inadequate, the Joads moved on to Hooper Ranch. There, Tom reunited with Jim Casy, who was already released from prison and later on became the leader of a union. However, a fight broke up and Casy was murdered, which prompted Tom to go after the man and kill him in return.
The succeeding climactic chapters reveal Tom and his family’s life as they run away from the authorities. His clan tried to conceal his identity from other people, much to no avail. Tom was seen leaving his family to fight for Casy’s cause.
On the other hand, the clan experienced being trapped in a massive flood which left all the members barely alive as they struggle to escape the situation. The last chapter depicts Tom’s sister, Rose of Sharon, delivering a dead baby in a barn. Without much strength left from the tragedy of losing her child, she was eventually seen breastfeeding a man dying from starvation in the said shelter.
The Grapes of Wrath earned the novel a Pulitzer Prize during the year 1940 and eventually a Nobel Prize for Literature for its author, John Steinback in 1962.
The Grapes of Wrath Themes
8. Lies and Deceit