Book Review: The Grapes of Wrath


I recently finished reading John Steinbeck’s book The Grapes of Wrath. It is definately worth reading. Honestly, I did’t know much about the struggles people endured during The Great Depression until reading this book. The only first hand story I remember is my grandmother telling me that they didn’t have lunch at school. Occassionally they might have an orange because the school would provide one. They didn’t really know any different because no one else had anything either. This book really opened my eyes to the struggles some people had during this time period. It was an example of the haves and have nots. Those that had jobs and those that had to fight for every penny they earned.

Steinbeck’s book covered a lot of different topics as it followed the Joads west from Oklahoma to California. It talked about family, religion, economics, greed, politics, culture, and survival. It really made me think, could I have survived during this time period? While this book was tough to get through, it provided insight into a time period that many of us have never experienced (and I hope we never experience). Most of the knowledge I have on The Great Depression is from economics classes, but this book brought the event to the struggles of the individuals who had to live through it. It was gut wrenching to see what individuals had to deal with, but it showed the beauty of the human spirit in helping their fellow man and surviving.

A more detailed synopsis can be found here and here.

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A comparison between 1964 and 2014 prices

Mark Perry recently posted the magic and miracle of of the marketplace: Christmas 1964 vs. 2014 – there’s no comparison. He took an advertisement from the Sears Christmas catalog for a color tv and determined that in 2014 prices, it would cost $5,700. He then used recent advertisements from Sears and Best Buy to determine what could be purchased for $5,700 which is pictured below.
I enjoy looking at these types of comparisons. It really is amazing how far we have progressed. The TV from the 2014 ad was listed for $400, which is $5,300 less than the one advertised in 1964. The TV from 2014 has a bigger screen, better picture quality, sound, etc. and for a fraction of the price. Another way to look at our progress is the number of hours required to purchase these similar items. For an individual making $10/hr (2014 dollars) it would take 40 hours to purchase the 2014 tv, but would take him 570 hours to purchase the 1964 tv.

Quote for the day

Today’s quote comes from page 7 of John Steinbeck’s book, Grapes of Wrath.

After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break. Then they asked, What’ll we do? And the men replied, I don’t know. But it was all right. The women knew it was all right, and the watching children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole.

I enjoy this quote because I believe it speaks to leadership. If as a leader, you can remain whole in the most trying of times, it brings a sense of calm to those that rely and follow you. The families Steinbeck is speaking of just lost their farms, their homes, and their source of income. The family/unit knew that as long as their leader remained strong in the face of adversity, they would survive.