Well, in a word, yes. I'm so... I'm still BLOWN away by the writing, even on this, what, fourth or fifth reading, and I'm still in love with everything about it! And I'm only a quarter of the way through, with SEVEN pages of quotes under my belt. And it's not like I can just write down little sentences, it's like, massive chunks of text that I just find completely perfect. DAMN Steinbeck, just show everyone else up, why don't you?!
I really am. And now I have to say more things about it? Whuuuut?!
Ok. So, to take it from the beginning-esque, I really love how Tom is introduced, in that for that entire chapter, you don't know anyone's name and the story could equally be about either Tom OR the truck driver, and THEN you find out Tom's a murderer and it's like
Oh SHIT, now I have to have sympathy for a murderer? But obviously it's all ok because, you know, self-defence and all. And he wasn't even carrying a weapon! The 1930s prosecution system is a JOKE!
And then we meet the Preacher. Or rather the former Preacher. And I have to tell you, I kind of love Jim Casy! In spite of his... not so good activities with what seem to be kind of young girls (I mean, not like the KIDS. But maybe still-in-their-teens girls, when he seems like he's more like Tom Snr's age) he's clearly the philosophical centre of the book, the character who wants to make things different, and who has stopped looking at the heavens so he can focus on things actually happening on earth. I, of course, love his new found kind-of-atheism, but also that, in spite of this, he's also the most deep thinking, and, in his own way, moral character. It's never really occurred to me before (or it has and I've forgotten) but Casy seems kind of like a substitute for Steinbeck for me at the moment- he wants to help do something for all the displaced people, which is exactly what Steinbeck was trying to do with this book.
And I'm sure the Cult-of-Wilkie ladies will agree, Casy is clearly a hottie:
"[His] was an abnormally high forehead, lined with delicate blue veins at the temples. Fully half of the face was above the eyes."
Can we talk about some of Steinbeck's descriptions please? Because, honestly, I was swooning all over myself while I was reading Grapes, because I've apparently been starved of Steinbeck for a long time! And by, 'can we talk about it', what I really mean is, here are some quotes from this first part that I really really liked:
"It was a long head, bony, tight of skin, and set on a neck as stringy and muscular as a celery stalk."
"Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding."
"And her joy was nearly like sorrow."
Jesse is excited by your awesome writing.
There are so so so many things that I haven't even brought up yet, so I sure hope everyone's focused on different things as we normally do so that everything gets said! For my part, I just want to talk about two more things: Ma, and those teeny chapters that aren't exactly about the Joads.
I love Ma. I think she's fantastic, and even though the men think they're in charge, and do get to make the decision, Ma is the one who turns their decisions into actions. About the only quote I didn't write down is something like 'women are always tired', which is not said so much as a criticism as a compliment to all that they do to keep their families working, and together. She seems like the paradigm of a mother figure, and I know that this:
"She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone."
Kiiind of makes me think of my own mother, so... She's pretty important!
And now, the teeny chapters. I think it would be really easy to read them and go '... well, how is that relevant?' and it's true that these chapters aren't exactly about the Joads, except that they ARE about the Joads, as well as every other family and people displaced by the actions of evil capitalist overlords. Whilst the chapters about the Joads mean that you can be empathetic to one particular story, these in-between chapters mean that you can be FURIOUS about the entire situation. Especially the capitalist overlords.
I also think that they contain some of Steinbeck's BEST writing, but that's neither here nor there. Unless you're reading a book, which oh look, we are!
"How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past? No. Leave it. Burn it.
They sat and looked at it and burned it into their memories. How'll it be not to know what land's outside the door? How if you wake up in the night and know- and know the willow tree's not there? Can you live without the willow tree? Well, no, you can't. The willow tree is you. The pain on that mattress there- that dreadful pain- that's you."