|The Dude will not abide these home-wrecking tractors.|
The book is broken up into chapters of plot and chapters of atmosphere. Atmosphere-wise, we've been introduced to the hard, dust bowl land of Oklahoma in the 1930s.
Things are not going well for farmers. Everyone's broke. No one's land is their own anymore. Chapter 5, the atmosphere chapter describing land owners sending their agents to give their tenants eviction notice, got me right in the gut. Steinbeck's writing is so fantastic in these chapters. He makes the story so much bigger than the Joads. He uses these chapters to get some Ideas out there on the page, too. Like, also in chapter 5, when he says "the monster that built the tractor, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver's hands, into his brain, and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him — goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest." Dude. That's good. So I'm liking these atmosphere chapters. Except for chapter 7, on the used car lot. That was a skimmer.
|It was all the "Used Cars. Good Used Cars," "Buicks, Nashes, De Sotos," "If I could get a hundred jalopies," et freaking cetera.|
In the plot chapters, we've been introduced to the Joad family. Tom Jr., who just got paroled from jail, is looking like our protagonist. I am REALLY liking Ma Joad, so far. We can imagine, and it's spelled out pretty blatantly early on in an atmosphere chapter, that women are wholly dependent on their men at this time. But Ma Joad is the integral Jenga piece in her family. "She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. [...] She seemed to know that if she swayed the whole family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone." She is quietly dignified, and I am liking her face.
What else? Muley breaks my heart, wandering around like a graveyard ghos'. Characters are working the idea of communism around like the truck driver who picked up Tommy Joad worked that piece of gum. One of the more flat-out-saying-it instances is in chapter 8, when Rev. Casy is saying grace over the Joads' breakfast and says, "But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang — that's right, that's holy." The Joad clan + Casy have just piled into the truck and left for California, Grampa against his will. We know Tom Jr.'s going to run into trouble for breaking his parole and leaving the state. But what else will they find in California? Will there really be work? Will there really be so many grapes? What is up with the name "Rose of Sharon," or, to her friends, "Rosasharn"? So many questions, you guys.
Mostly, I'm worried about the grape thing.
|You have crushed ENOUGH souls, Willy Wonka.|