Man, it would really suck to be a character in a John Steinbeck novel. I read Of Mice and Men a while back, and that didn’t end well. The Grapes of Wrath not only doesn’t end well for the characters, it doesn’t start well and doesn’t …middle well, either.
It is pretty effective, though, assuming that Steinbeck’s aim was to provoke empathy for the thousands of farmers who were pushed out of places like Oklahoma only to find that their land of milk and honey, California, was full of cutthroat business owners who would not blink at the thought of watering their cash crops with the blood of the destitute “Oakies” who flood in to work in their fields. Steinbeck also makes some blatant overtones about community, repression, and the need for organized labor. I’d like to see him in a celebrity cage deathmatch with Ayn Rand.
But good book, overall. Kind of dragged on in places, but it really had an epic feel to it. Just kind of sad that it ends the way it does, and with the most uncomfortable breastfeeding scene I’ve ever come across.