The Grapes of Wrath
From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ The Grapes of Wrath Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.
The Grapes of Wrath (1939) | Written by: John Steinbeck| Published by: The Viking Press
The Grapes of Wrath
Thug Notes Summary and Analysis
Yo what’s good? This week we throwin up the west side with Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
After doin time for mercin some fool, Tom Joad gets released from the big house and shoots the sh** with Jim Casy, who used to be a preacher back in the day. Together these cats drop in on the Joad family farm- but that place is dead! Where the hell is everyone?
Apparently the bank dun run dem broke-ass scrubs outta their own digs and now Tom’s family kickin it over at his Uncle John’s crib.
So our boys slide over to Uncle J’s spot where the whole family packin their sh** in some hoopty-ass truck. Word on the street is there’s so much work in California, homies basically throwin cash at anyone who got the juice to hustle. And since the Dustbowl dun fu**ed up their hood, Casy and the Joads gotz to start trekkin to the West Side.
As they swangin and bangin down Route 66, they peep a whole bunch of other homies who got the same idea. Some even say the work-scene in Cali is all cashed out, and errybody cruisin over there for no good reason.
And when they reach Cali, it turns out it ain’t all peaches and creme.
With so many homies tryin to hustle fo dat dough, all dem shysti capitalist big-dawgs can pay out jack sh** to hungry hoods who ain’t got no choice but to keep grindin for bread.
But not errybody just lettin them rich folks walk all over them. When the Joads get a lil work pickin peaches, Casy and some other righteous ballas go on strike and try to organize the workers to step up to dat 1%.
Eventually the sh** goes down: Tom peeps Casy gettin his head busted open by some strike breaker, so Tom keep it street and straight ICES that punk.
Since he still on parole, Tom gotta leave the family so he can lay low from the po-lice. Now he can spend his time spreadin Casy’s righteous word bout helpin brothas out.
After gettin flooded outta their spot, the Joad’s roll up on some lil kid and his daddy who bout to starve to death. Tom’s sister Rose of Sharon decide she gonna step up: She whipts out dat tit-tay and lets him such the milk out so he won’t die. Does a body good!
Look- errybody know it sucks a fat one to be straight tapped out with no job. But during the Great Depression, these cats were hurtin on a whole nother level- like some o dat Old Testament suffering.
And in dis book, ain’t no doubt Steinbeck goin straight Ol Testament on our asses.
Check it, yo- The Dustbowl that dun fu**ed up all the Joad’s grubbins reppin the plagues in Egypt, the trek to the West Side reppin the exodus from Egypt, and all them haters up in Cali actin just like the tribes of Canaan.
But ol Johnny boy just gettin started with dem biblical allusions, son. The title ripped straight from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a sick 1860s beat spittin somethin raw: haters beware, cuz the big G-man gonna smite yo ass one day just like he say in Revelation.
Illustration: show Battle Hymn with ‘He is trampling out the vintage where the Grapes of Wrath are stores’ and on the other side Revelation “And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and cast it in the great winepress of the wrath of god.”
But it’s exactly all this bible jive that Jim Casy throws to the curb when he goes to in to the wildnerness to do some soul searchin’. Ol JC realize that holiness ain’t bout which book you readin or what God you preachin, goodness comes from unity, brotha.
Sparky reads quote: “There was the hills, an’ there was me, an’ we wasn’t separate no more. We was one thing. An’ that one thing was holy.’
As the story go on, the Joads keep gettin fu**ed by dem shysti bankers and landowners to the point where they gotta live like animals, and start droppin one by one. But even though all them deaths makin the Joad family smaller, the suffering they gotta beast through makes em part of a bigger crew.
Sparky reads quote: “And because they were lonely and perplexed, because they had all come from a place of sadness and worry and defeat…
In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream…the twenty were one.”
So when Rose of Sharon whips out her titty to feed dat lucky fool at the end, it symbolizing that she now part of a bigger family- a family of people who been fu**ed by the man.
Maybe the American dream of opportunity for all ain’t errything its cracked up to be. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer.
“There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success…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.”
But all the sweet swag you can find at my store is EXACTLY what it’s all cracked up to be. So keep it real and check me out next week. Peace.