Tuesday 23 October 2012

The Grapes of Wrath Part 3: "'What ya think everyone else is lookin' for? Di'monds?'"

I've decided to allow myself just one rant this week, so that there's time to focus on the happy things! That actually happened! So here comes the rant to get it out of the way.

Cause, you know, this:
"There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolise. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And the children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot."
So, ok, I know the whole of chapter 25 was basically Steinbeck pushing back against progress, but how progressive is progress really if it can't stop children from dying? It seems clear that something has gone horribly wrong when SO much food is being produced, and then just left to rot because it can't be turned into money, when people are starving to death. I think this just really got to me because it still happens, and honestly, it really shouldn't. I know that in the EU, there are lakes of milk and wine, and mountains of rice, wheat and sugar, because SO much is produced, and it seems RIDICULOUS to me that it can't go to feed people who need it, and it always has. And yes, I understand economically that it isn't a good thing to just give people free food, but fuck economics, fuck 'progress', fuck profits, what about a little bit of humanity?

Rant over. But it still burns in my SOUL.

Now let's talk about crazy religious fanatics! I mean, seriously, horrifyingly scary woman,
Who just goes around scaring pregnant young girls whose husbands have JUST RUN OFF AND LEFT THEM (stupid Connie), telling them that they're sinners and that their babies are going to fall out of them?! Assholes, that's who. Or, also, Clack probably would have done it if they'd spoken of pregnancies and things in Victorian times, which obviously they didn't. I did enjoy her return and Ma's threatening to beat her with a stick (GO MA!) and the way Ma basically told Rose of Sharon that she wasn't important enough for God to be bothered about, which was a pretty refreshing thing to hear from a mother about their kid. I also enjoyed how, in the following chapter, Steinbeck basically made it clear that such fundamentalism provides pleasure for a certain kind of person, which, you know, these poor people deserve in their lives. But maybe not at the expense of other poor people WHO ARE PREGNANT AND VULNERABLE.

Also, this preacher sounds like a douche: "He says 'The poor is trying to be rich.'"
By having nice dances and shit? How fucking dare they?!

Anyway... Did we all notice the nice shift in tone in this section? I mean, sure the preacher (the nice one, our preacher) got carted off to jail, and they had to escape that Hooverville before it got burned to the ground, and those people threatened to kill them if they didn't leave their town, but... The government camp! How freaking wonderful is that place? I surely was amused that the children had never seen a toilet before, and that Ma and Rose of Sharon had a whole excited conversation about the showers, and basically, I wouldn't mind living in one of those camps!

Too bad Connie didn't stick around to see the nice camp, and lasted all of about 2 hours in the Hooverville before running out on his PREGNANT WIFE. For personal reasons, though, I don't exactly mind any of this, because it made for some amusing opinions about Connie being allowed to come out in the open:
PA: "'Well, he ain't no good... all the time a-sayin' what he's a-gonna do. Never doin' nothin'."
TOM: "'She might's well give him up. He's prob'ly studyin' to be President of the United States by now.'"
Fortunately, Rose of Sharon still has Ma (GLORIOUS MA) around, to dole out sage advice, aka things that she should probably already know. You know, like:
"'They's times when how you feel got to be kep' to yourself.'" (Translation: You're not the only one with troubles, girl, buck up!)
"'In a little while it ain't gonna be so bad. In a little while. An' that's true.'" (Translation: Time heals all wounds. This too shall pass.)

At this point, if I didn't actually know what was going to happen, I would be SO optimistic. I mean, sure there's this threat of escalating violence, and sure there've been allusions to children starving (Ruthie and Winfield better watch out!) but ALSO there's been another WILKIE sighting, "'This here's my boy Wilkie'" at which I squealed a tiny bit, and which I choose to take as a good sign, blindly ignoring all I know. For all I know, they changed the ending since the last time I read it. IT COULD HAPPEN!


  1. The rotting food makes me sad. cos I get WHY it happens with the economics and whatnot but still. Dammit.

    I didn't even manage to talk about crazy religious lady. Quit scaring Rosasharn, you nut bag! Least Ma is there. Ma to the rescue again. What with her threatening to beat people up and her sage advice. I love her. I kind of don't care too much about any of the other characters but I love her.

    I really hope they changed the ending since you last read it...

    1. Yeah, like... I *understand* the economics, and yet I will NEVER understand how people/we let it happen, you know? Stupid capitalism.

      Ahhh, crazy religious people are my favourite thing to complain about/mock. Cause, you know, they's CRAZY! I really do feel so sorry for Rosasharn in this section, which is a bit of a change from kind of rolling my eyes at her in the previous 2 (Ma, I just sneezed, will it hurt the baby?! NO YOU FUCKING MORON) but yeah. Chick's got a rough deal.

      Let's pretend they changed the ending, please oh please! *hopes and wishes to the book fairy*

  2. Yes, agreed on the rotting food. It's infuriating! I just read a book recently about the Great Famine in Ireland that did a pretty good job of explaining all of the economics around flooding a food market, but it still boggles my mind.

    Also, I'd completely forgotten about the crazy religious lady! What a nutter! I love Ma, though, and her always-steady reaction to everything (except people being nice to her, which pushes her as close to sadness as I've seen so far).

    I'm scared of the last bits. I want them all to be happy, and Noah and the preacher to come back, and they can have a nice funeral for Granma and Grampa, yes?

    1. I understand it economically, and in a capitalist way it makes complete sense, but FUCK capitalism, is what I say! It is mind boggling!

      Ma needs a hug. I don't think anyone realises how strong she really is, except Steinbeck, and, you know, us!

      OMG I want all those things to happen. Especially the Noah thing, cause he's a sweet kid! Yes, let's say this is how it ends. :)

  3. UGH the religious people. They're just SITTING over there watching the dance and judging and brainwashing their poor children. If it's so sinful, then maybe you should AVERT YOUR EYES. Go away and read the Bible or something? You may be particularly interested in that section on judging and how, you know, YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT.

    Oh my...I thought I didn't have anything to rant about this week, but look what just happened. *deep breath*

    I DO feel bad for Rose of Sharon about the whole Connie thing. I know her family is all kind of "eh, whatever" about it, but that would be HARD for a girl in her situation. Stupid Connie.

    1. Isn't 'judge not lest ye be judged' LITERALLY a thing in the Bible? I just... I CAN'T DEAL WITH THE CRAZY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE MEGS! They give all the nice religious people a bad name! (Not that this is a personal problem. But still!) Nice ranting by the way.

      Rosasharn has had a ROUGH time of it. Poor lass. Will things get better for her?! (I mean, I know, but what do *you* think?)

    2. That is TOTALLY a thing in the Bible. In more than one place. Crazy religious people giving the rest of us a bad name. *grumble grumble*

      I...don't think things are going to go well for Rosasharn from here. I WANT the whole family to be an island from surrounding troubles, but I just can't believe that will happen because...STEINBECK. I'm gonna go ahead and assume the worst and just expect Rosasharn to lose her baby. THERE I SAID IT.

    3. Steinbeck would do that to her. That jerk.

  4. Wait, I thought Connie maybe didn't run off? He's gone for like half a day and the family leaves the camp. Maybe he was going to come back! /optimism

    Also UGGHHH to all the rotting food. Damnit, Steinbeck, stop making me feel all weepy all the time. You think you have it good in the government camp and then BAM EVERYTHING SUCKS AGAIN. He's probably just warming up to kill off some more characters...

    I totally picked up on the Clack and Wilkie-isms, too! Man, we are in tune.

  5. Ya like WTF - Connie just panics and takes off?! Either people liked to just walk off back then or Steinbeck has no other tools up his writer's sleeves to "kill" people off.

    Ugh. The religious assholes. I pretty much rolled my eyes the entire time I was reading about them.

    The new camp is too good to be true. That whole long-ass chapter I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. And then it didn't, and I was able to breathe again. And then the dance happened and I thought "this is it - shit's gonna go down now", but it didn't. Which can only mean this story isn't going to end well or it'd already be over... :(

  6. You know at first, I really thought maybe Connie just went to the bathroom or something and then when they were like "Oh no where's Connie?" I was like "Chill, he probably got lost or something". And even though he probably did run away like an ass, a small optimistic part of me thinks maybe he'll turn up saying he got kidnapped or something.

    The rotting food thing sucks, and I still don't understand... in the book it said the price of labor went down, so the farmers couldn't afford to harvest... that makes no sense! That should mean they can afford to hire more workers to harvest... Yeah, still don't quite grasp that. But basically food going to waste and people starving and yeah that sucks.

    And SCREW that uber-religious lady. She was annoying, and for a second there I thought maybe she was the one that was going to sneak trouble-makers into the camp. But I was wrong.