The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Original publication date: 1939
This week is banned books week in the United States. All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.
One of the greatest and most socially significant novels of the twentieth century, Steinbeck’s controversial masterpiece indelibly captured America during the Great Depression through the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads. Intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity, The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is not only a landmark American novel, but it is as well an extraordinary moment in the history of our national conscience.
Status: Challenged in the U.S., including being burned by the East St. Louis, IL public library (1939) and barred from the Buffalo, NY public library (1939); publishers put on trial in Turkey for spreading propaganda (citation).
Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Reasons cited include profanity, taking the Lord’s name in vain, inappropriate sexual references, and the fact that an ex-minister recounts his sexual conquests (citation).
My thoughts: “The Grapes of Wrath” is one of my favorite books (.doc) of all time. I have loved it ever since reading it in high school in what was my introduction to John Steinbeck. Like “Kaffir Boy,” this is the story of a downtrodden and economically depressed people. Although the ‘Okies’ didn’t suffer the same systemic abuse and racism as did Mark Mathabane and his family, they were definitely an economically and politically oppressed people.
Your Turn: Have you read “The Grapes of Wrath”? What did you think about it? Did the profanity make an impact on you (positive or negative)? Did it work within the conext of the book or was it gratuitous? Can you imagine having to pack up your entire life in a car and move half-way across the country to start over from scratch?
Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.
Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am. Check her out as well!