National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.


John Steinbeck, 1939 (Bettmann/Corbis)

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is not merely a great American novel. It is also a significant event in our national history. Capturing the plight of millions of Americans whose lives had been crushed by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Steinbeck awakened the nation's comprehension and compassion.

Written in a style of peculiarly democratic majesty, The Grapes of Wrath evokes quintessentially American themes of hard work, self-determination, and reasoned dissent. It speaks from assumptions common to most Americans whether their ancestors came over in a stateroom, in steerage, or were already here to greet the migrants.

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