The Kofford Family relocates to Colorado after 40 years as Californians. In December of 2007, Grandma Lorraine is diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. Sadly, she passed away on Dec. 26th, 2008 after a year long courageous battle. Follow our journey as we keep Lorraine's memory alive, and as we learn to appreciate that each day we are given, is a gift to be enjoyed!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
~Maria Robertson

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

Whew...want to read a real tear-jerker? I didn't think so, but reading this book sure puts our current luxuries into perspective.

Tom has been hounding me for years to read one of his favorite books, "The Grapes of Wrath." I wasn't very interested, not because I didn't feel the story would be compelling, it was more for the reason that I haven't been interested in any sad stories, movies, or books describing human suffering. I guess I saw more than I ever wanted to experience first hand watching my mother's slow death from brain cancer. I didn't want to experience more, even if reading about it is easier than seeing it and living it with a loved one. After our last trip to the library and Tom's reading of the book again, I decided to plow forth and read.

Dust storms in the 1930's destroying towns and homesteads.
In the 1930's a devasting drought brought about a series of events that lead to terrible human suffering and death. John Steinbeck wrote, "The Grapes of Wrath" depicting what life was like during that time in history. The book follows the Joad Family as they leave their farm in Oaklahoma after the bank reposses it. Thousands of families were no longer able to grow crops after the drought which brought on horrible dust storms. The bank took over theses farms for lack of payment on the loans and the people had no choice but to leave their homeland in search of greener pastures and work in California.

Thousands of families sold all of their belongings, some getting only $18 for everything, and packing what they could on old jalopies purchased for $50-75.00. Setting out to cross the country with around $100 to their names, they experienced great heartache on their journey.

Once arriving in California they were told there would be work picking oranges and peaches. Unfortuantely, there were more families looking for work than there were jobs. Without water, shelter, and food, the migrant people starved to death. When work was found, often picking cotton, the land owners paid minimum wages knowing that someone would always work for less. If one man was willing to work for .35 cents a day, another would do it for .25 cents for any chance to feed his family. The hope of owning land, or a small farm to start fresh would never come for these people. They no longer worked for wages, but for a cup of flour and a spoonful of lard.

A typical cotton picker...some of the only work available...families would pick cotton in exchange for food for their starving families. The book ends with an example of true giving, but we are left wondering what happened to these people. I have been curious about how many generations it took until they were they able to sustain themselves. During one poignant scene a family couldn't afford a loaf of bread, but asked if the shop owner could cut off .10 cents worth so they would have something. I cannot even imagine what suffering these people experienced, but reading the book did make me appreciate every meal we are lucky enough to eat.

Tonight we are going to watch the movie made in 1940 starring Henry Fonda. Tom would like Kyle to read the book, hoping it will enable him to see how much we have as we live in a society that covets "more."

Have you read any great books this summer? We'd love your suggestions!


cjcfun said...

Ryan had Grapes of Wrath out to read about two weeks before school started. Unfortunately, I think he is going to be too busy read it now.

It is an such an exceptional book, Steinbeck's phonetic writing of their dialect really pulls you in.

Being from California, all of the places are so familiar that it made it even more compelling for me when I read it.

I hope you guys enjoy the movie.


Beth said...

I got a copy about a year ago from a free box at a garage sale... I have yet to read it...but now I think I will!

I am in two book groups---church and work-- and need to catch up there first...

Thanks for the review and encouragment!

ShutUpandRun said...

have never read this book but you make me want to delve into it...

Anita said...

I read The Grapes of Wrath many years ago and it was heart breaking.

The best book I read this summer was "The Help" by Katheryn Sockett. It is set in early 1960's in Mississippi, and it tells the story of the huge difference between the lives of my white middle to upper middle class housewives and the black women who raise their children and keep their homes. It was amazing!! I still have my copy of you would like me to send it to you.

glitzen said...

Oh boy, I remember the movie and how sad it was. I think I read the book in school.
My favorite books this summer have been Christian fiction by Karen Kingsbury. I got hooked, then got my mom and my best friend hooked as well. I have read about nine of her books this summer! If you want to try, she has both series and stand-alone titles. The best series to start with is called The Firstborn Series.
Another book I just finished is by Janette Oak, Roses for Mama. A sweet read.

Jemm said...

My husband has read "Grapes of Wrath" twice and tells me I should read it. I do like John Steinbeck, so I'll give it a-go one of these days. :)

Anonymous said...

This was required reading in high school and I enjoyed it! I found it interesting but also education as to the events following The Crash in 1929. I'm glad you read it- you have made me want to read it again...