The Grapes of Wrath

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The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is a classic American novel by John Steinbeck. It tells the saga of Tom Joad, his family and his friends, as they try to survive the Great Depression.

Page numbers based on Penguin edition, 1992, ISBN 0141185066


  • I gotta see them folks that’s gone out on the road. I got a feelin' I got to see them. They gonna need help no preachin' can give 'em. Hope of heaven when their lives ain’t lived? Holy Sperit when their own sperit is downcast an’ sad?
  • Grampa walked up and slapped Tom on the chest, and his eyes grinned with affection and pride. "How are ya, Tommy?"
    "O.K.," said Tom. "How ya keepin' yaself?"
    "Full a piss an' vinegar," said Grampa.
    • p.107
  • To California or any place—every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, marching with our bitterness. And some day—the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it.
    • Chapter 9, pp.91-92
  • For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man—when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it. This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live—for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can know—fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.
    • Chapter 14, pp.156-157
  • This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning—from "I" to "we". If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I", and cuts you off forever from the "we".
    • Chapter 14, p.158
  • Tom grinned. "It don’t take no nerve to do somepin when there ain’t nothin’ else you can do."
    • Chapter 18, p.231
  • "Well," said Casy, "for anybody else it was a mistake, but if you think it was a sin—then it's a sin. A fella builds his own sins right up from the groun'."
    • p.235
  • And Ruthie whispered, "Tha's Granma, an' she's dead." Winfield nodded solemnly. "She ain't breathin' at all. She's awful dead."
    • p.239
  • And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression.
    • p.249
  • Men who have created new fruits in the world cannot create a system whereby their fruits may be eaten. And the failure hangs over the State like a great sorrow. ...and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
    • Chapter 25, pp.349 (Everbind book version- bottom of pg.477)
  • If you're in trouble or hurt or need—go to poor people. They're the only ones that'll help—the only ones.
    • Ma Joad, p.376
  • Then I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be ever'where—wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'—I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready. An' when our folk eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build—why, I'll be there.
  • Prayer never brought in no side-meat. Takes a shoat to bring in pork.
    • Tom Joad

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