Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Grapes of Wrath, The Conclusioning: "The break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath."

Well. I don't know about you guys, but after I finished The Grapes of Wrath, I sure felt completely drained. That last section is just unrelenting awfulness, huh? Like... you feel like we've already had some dismal times, but nope, just had to throw a stillborn baby in there, didn't ya Steinbeck?
Let's see... So, the peach farm. That seemed like a pleasant place to work and live, huh? 'Oh hey, you can have this money while you're being scabs, but as soon as we PUT THESE DAMN REDS BACK IN THEIR PLACE, you've got to accept a pay cut. It was just kind of like the culmination of all the things Steinbeck's been warning us about all the time, and it. Is. Bitter.

And then Casy came back!
And it's like oh YAY, everything's going to be ok because my favourite character except Ma is back and he will MAKE SOCIALISM HAPPEN, only, no, wait, look, instead let's club him to death and get Tom in terrible trouble!
Do we feel like this is some kind of massively downer message from Steinbeck like 'yeah, I really want socialism to happen. But it's never going to happen, is it?' (God, Steinbeck, stop trying to make Socialism happen. It's never going to happen.) Or is it just meant to be like 'that dead guy was really nice and only tried to do good things for everyone, so we should RISE UP and be like him!' I don't know. All I know is that I did not like it! I never do.

I actually kind of misremembered that they snuck Tom out of the peach farm place and then he hid in those woods, because I thought he sort of ran off into the night a la Connie a few chapters back. But nope, he hid in the woods near some boxcars for no discernible reason (oh wait, were they going to have him back in when his face healed? But wouldn't everyone have still been like 'Where the hell did he come from?!') and then STUPID Ruthie went and told on him. I seriously... Like, I like the kids for the moments of comic relief they bring to the novel, but Ruthie is SUCH a cow and she really needs a good talking to! And Ma's just like 'oh... never mind. She's just a kid.' And yeah, she is, but she's also a dickhead and needs to be spoken to!

Anyway... So Tom had to leave. Which was totally sad, but hey! He's going to take on the Socialist cause! (I think) You know that whole speech he gives that reads kind of lamely? Well, in the movie, it sounds totally awesome, and not just because it's coming out of Henry Fonda's mouth. This is where I was going to link you to a youtube video of said awesome moment, but I can't find one. So you'll have to take my word for it. Instead, I offer you what I can only assume was Alice's reaction at Al Joad's marriage announcement:
Which, brings us neatly to the final scene. Which I know we're going to talk about, but I don't really want to. The thing is, it's so... creepy and beyond what we normally expect that the natural reaction to it is EURGH, which I do ALWAYS have and I fully blocked out the ending for probably the first 3 times I read it, but of COURSE I'm going to have to defend Steinbeck here like I've been doing for four weeks (you guys all love when I invade your comments and defend Steinbeck, right? I knows you do!). BECAUSE yes it's creepy and gross, but if you think around it and not about IT then it's a kind of wonderful thing for Rosasharn to do (and sort of makes up for her being a WHINY SHREW for the entire book) and Ma approves which is just GREAT, and then also... It's meant to be gross. It's meant to be like, no things AREN'T supposed to be this way, but look at the lengths people have to go to just to eat! WHAT IS UP WITH THIS SHIT?

Also, I think there's something about hope and survival against all odds in there, but who can really say?

So. It seems about right to wrap things up about now, so GUYS! You did it! (I assume). You read The Grapes of Wrath!

And sadder and wiser women we will rise the morrow morn. Or something. But yeah, I hope y'all got something out of it other than 'I wish Steinbeck would stop being such a damn red' and also, if you needs some more Steinbeck, imagine that in every bookshop you go into, I am SHOVING you towards East of Eden. But The Grapes of Wrath will remain an important book in my reading history, and I've come to believe it even bestowed me with some important Socialist ideals that will never go away. So NICE WORK, Steinbeck! *thumbs up at my indoctrination*

THE END (link up below, my pretties)

25 comments:

  1. Casy made me kinda sad :( I was totally happy to see him, and then WHAM, he was gone. Buuuut I'm more disappointed that Connie didn't make some sort of appearance. I'm still going to assume that he just went for a walk and the Joads just left him there. I wish I had liked more of the characters. Ma was the only one I really liked, and Al and Casy had their moments. But I think I didn't get that sad throughout the book because I thought most of the characters were crappy people anyways.

    Soooo overall I think I liked it! Well, I liked Steinbeck's writing, anyways. I do wish he hadn't kind of beat us over the head with his whole love of communism and hatred of anyone with money. And while I totally get the symbolism of the ending, there's no way I'm not going to kind of make fun of it whenever I get the chance. Cause dude... ewww.

    So you know, if you happen to do an East of Eden readalong sometime, I'll totally be there!

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    1. I've decided to let you do East of Eden Sarah! Cause I'm just that nice ;)

      I have literally ALWAYS thought that Connie really did leave Rosasharn and that they were all right about him, but last week everyone got me thinking... Maybe he WAS going to come back! Because how the hell was he going to get back to Oklahoma?! I kind of... I sort of love all the characters except maybe stupid Ruthie, but even her when she was scared of the toilet... But I can totally see (now) how a lot of them are kind of difficult to sympathise with. Idk, they seemed much more sympathetic when I was like 15...

      I am always up for both Communism (or socialism) and hatred for anyone with money. That's just the way I am! But YAY for Steinbeck's writing. I don't think I've ever read anything by him that I didn't like, just because OMG the writing!!

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  2. I have to run and work my 13 hour work day (I know, waa waa), so I will be back much later to comment!!

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    1. Alright! Hope you're having work fun!

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  3. I would totally marry Al Joad. Damnit, sir, you don't want Aggie.

    I'm glad we can all unite under the banner of hating Ruthie. Stupid Ruthie.

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    1. AL IS YOURS FOREVER AND EVER! And Al and Alice sounds waaaay better than Al and Aggie!

      Ruthie is SO annoying! I feel like now I feel really sorry for Rosasharn, I'm all about hating Ruthie. The little idiot.

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    2. She just sucks.

      I think Rose of Sharon would be ok if she got into a settled situation. And she was pregnant that WHOLE TIME, so I can't imagine. That'd be the worst.

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    3. It would be AWFUL. I feel like the end is kind of like a redemption thing for Rosasharn, as well as all the other things it means. But she is preeeetty annoying. Even though she can't help it. Kinda.

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    4. Wait a minute. ALFRED never came back and we never learnt Ma's name!

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  4. Sounds like Steinbeck definitely made Casy a martyr, which makes him all the more powerful. (Never kill the idealogically iconic guy, people in power.)

    I haven't finished the book (gasp!) but I will post tonight most certainly. Excellent readalong, Miss Laura! Thank you for hosting! My not finishing the book is in no way a comment on its or your awesomeness.

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    1. This comment totally excuses you from any misdemeanours you may or may not have committed! And yea, myself and the book are indeed both awesome.

      Casy is tooootaly the martyr. I feel like, to a young and impressionable reader, THAT'S the bit where you go 'omg, why is Casy dead? WHY IS ALL THIS HAPPENING?!' And become a massive socialist. Not that that happened to me. Ahem.

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    2. Oh yeah, the martyr-symbolic-Jesus thing. That pissed me off. I don't know how well-known Jesus' death is, but what Casy said? Something along the lines of "You don't know what you're doing"? Yeah, that's what Jesus said when he was killed. TOO HEAVY-HANDED, STEINY.

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    3. You don't know how well known Jesus' death is? It's probably about the most FAMOUS DEATH EVER ALICE.

      But. I did not know this. Except I DID, because I learnt it when I had to read this for Uni, and then I forgot it. But there's alllll sorts of Bible shit in this book, so... This does not surprise me. Nor does it surprise me that Casy is his Christ. Because, duh.

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    4. I DIDN'T MEAN THE FACT THAT HE DIED I MEANT THE DETAILS

      Like that one. He's all "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But yeah. Tooooo much.

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    5. I knew what you meant. I was being a DICK.

      He does say that! Hey, I knew that! But obviously I didn't make the connection cause I stuuuupid. But yeah.

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  5. Thanks for hosting the read-along! Steinbeck is never going to make my list of favorite authors (sorry!), but I'm glad I read this book.

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    1. You're welcome! And POOR STEINBECK. But also that's ok haha. And I'm glad you're glad! I think it's definitely worth reading at least once in everyone's lives!

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  6. Oh man, I meant to mention the "I'll be there" speech in my post. I was even going to find a GIF of the Jackson 5 singing the song... Oh well.

    UGH THE LAST SCENE MADE ME SO SAD AND ANGRY AT THE SAME TIME. Mainly, sad because of all the starvation and everything and angry because who ends an epic novel with an awkward breastfeeding scene? Steinbeck is strange.

    Thank you so much for hosting! I'm sending you bushels of hugs across the Atlantic!

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    1. THERE IS A SONG?! The only song with 'I'll be there' in ray I can think of is the Baywatch theme. Which is disturbing, frankly!

      He's totally strange and I LOVE HIM FOR IT! There's this quote from him on the back of my copy that's something like 'I've ripped a readers nerves to shreds, I don't want him satisfied or something' and I think the ending is just the perfect example of THAT! The BASTARD :)

      *accepts the hugs warmly* you're welcome! I didn't really do anything special hehe! Also I meant to say on your post, WELL DONE for posting cause, you know, there was that whole hurricane thing and all... So nice work!

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  7. THIS READALONG WAS SO MUCH FUN. And I got to cross off a classic off my list. So glad I joined and got to know you all a little better. I look forward to the next one! :)

    In some ways - Steinbeck was brilliant for having such a shocking ending because chances are I will never forget it as that scene is FOREVER BURNED INTO MY MIND and it's probably a good thing when you're an author that people remember your book.

    I must watch the movie now!

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    1. Yaaaaaaay *welcomes you into the fold. Extraly* :)

      I still don't even really know how I feel about the ending, other than I'm not sure it could have ended another way! (It totally could have. Steinbeck is just demented.)

      Having said that, I believe the movie ends totally differently, so I nominate you to watch it and share that information with us!

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  8. "God, Steinbeck, stop trying to make Socialism happen. It's never going to happen." - Mean Girls is always relevant.

    Al pissed me off this last section. Possibly more than Rosasharn, but with that ending I think I forgave and am also disgusted with her. She's in her own world now. But Al, stfu. Seriously. You're getting married now? Sounds like some GOOD TIMING. He needed Tom around to keep him from being an asshole.

    AWESOME READALONG, LAURA! Thank you for hosting it

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    1. Mean Girls IS always relevant. And necessary.

      WHY CAN'T AL GET MARRIED?! Seems like its better than him 'romancing' all these girls and potentially 'getting one in trouble'. I definitely hate Ruthie more!

      You're welcome! It was SO much hard work and effort (it really wasn't.) :)

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    2. DOES AL NEED TO GET MARRIED THIS SECOND? THERE'S OTHER SHIT GOING ON RIGHT NOW. Like drowning and your sister going insane and starving to death.

      I feel bad for Ruthie. Cos she's just a little kid. She's not old enough to know better, even though she prob should have. But still.

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    3. EXACTLY! What's the hurry AL?! Marriage should be the last thing on his line and the families shouldn't have been "celebrating" the announcement when they don't even know where their next meal is coming from.

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