[Report Abuse]
[Login to Blog] timeontarget's Blog
Leonard Pitts Jr./GRAPES OF WRATH
Last comment by timeontarget 1 year, 5 months ago.

Take Me To Post Comment Form

Leonard Pitts Jr. Miami Herald

This Leonard Pitts Jr. column was published in the Savannah Morning News yesterday. I enjoyed it and some of you might also.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Grapes of Wrath' resonates 75 years later

It was an angry book. Much of the response was angry, too. Some towns banned it, some towns burned it. Every town talked about it.

"The Grapes of Wrath" was published 75 years ago this month, a seminal masterpiece of American literature that seems freshly relevant to this era of wealth disparity, rapacious banks and growing poverty.

John Steinbeck introduced readers to the Joads, a poor, proud clan of Depression-era Oklahoma farmers who set out for the promised land of California in a rickety truck after their own land dries up and blows away and the bank seizes what little is left.

Perhaps you remember from English class -- or the 1940 film starring Henry Fonda -- what happens next, how misfortune piles on misfortune and loss piles on loss, the promises of the promised land receding like a wave from shore.

Perhaps you remember how Tom Joad, the decent everyman, becomes radicalized with the realization of how heavily the deck is stacked against him and his.

Perhaps you remember what he promises his mother as he prepares to flee after killing a brutal strikebreaker in blind fury.

"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 an' they know supper's ready.

An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build -- why, I'll be there."

The anger of John Steinbeck's novel, its litany of indignity and unfairness, galvanized a national dialogue on poverty and the exploitation of workers that reached even into the White House, where Eleanor Roosevelt was inspired to visit a migrant laborers camp to see the conditions for herself.

Seventy-five years later, in the wake of the worst economic catastrophe since that time, one is glad to hear faint echoes of the novel's anger in a population that has seemed docile and somnambulant even as the American Dream was being dismantled around them.

One is gratified by the Occupy movement, unfocused as it was, that sprang up three years ago, by the chanting of fast-food workers demanding a living wage, by the lacerating fury of a Bruce Springsteen song.

"Send the robber barons straight to h--l, the greedy thieves who came around and ate the flesh of everything they found," he growls in 2012's "Death to My Hometown."

These are the sounds and actions of people waking up. Steinbeck would likely approve.

The final pages of his book find the Joads reduced to almost nothing, pushed out, flooded out, family members dying, others just gone. Then daughter Rosasharn goes into labor. The baby is stillborn.

"Never breathed ... never was alive."

But there is always someone who has it worse and, sheltering from the flood in someone's barn, the Joads meet him, a man so shriveled by hunger he can't take solid food.

Rosasharn, her breasts heavy with milk her dead baby will never use, knows what she must do.

Viewed from the perch of an I-got-mine era, a let-'em-eat-cake era, a bling era where net worth equals self-worth and the denigration of the poor is a staple of cable TV news, the thing she does may seem confounding.

Which says less about it than about us, and the lost ideal of common humanity.

But it is precisely that ideal Steinbeck insists upon, and that insistence resonates even across a gulf of 75 years.

Huddled in a borrowed shelter, Rosasharn draws the dying man to her. She cradles this stranger and nurses him. Reduced to only her body, only her self, she gives that.

It is a lesson for then, for now, forever.

We are human beings.

There is one comfort we're meant to have even when we have nothing else.

Each other.

Leonard Pitts Jr. The Miami Herald
TOT is proud to copy and share on the Courier blog site

Latest Activity: Apr 25, 2014 at 7:46 AM

Bookmark and Share
Forward This Blog
Print Blog
More Blogs by timeontarget
Send timeontarget a Message
Report Abuse

Blog has been viewed (476) times.

timeontarget commented on Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM

It is a lesson for then, for now, forever.

We are human beings.

There is one comfort we're meant to have even when we have nothing else.

Each other.

Leonard Pitts Jr. The Miami Herald

Log In to post comments.

Previous blog entries by timeontarget
Illegal immigrants could elect Hillary
October 03, 2015
I did not compose this but after reading it I thought some of our viewers might be interested in looking it over. If interested please read and carefully consider. timeontarget //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Illegal immigrants—along with other noncitizens without the right to vote—may pick the 2016 presidential winner. Thanks to the unique ...
Read More »
The Mind of Mr. Putin
October 02, 2015
The Mind of Mr. Putin By Patrick J. Buchanan Friday - October 2, 2015 "Do you realize now what you have done?" So Vladimir Putin in his U.N. address summarized his indictment of a U.S. foreign policy that has produced a series of disasters in the Middle East that we ...
Read More »
October 01, 2015
COPYRIGHT 2015 ANN COULTER THE WAR ON AMERICA TURNS 50 September 30, 2015 Half a century ago, Democrats looked at the country and realized they were never going to convince Americans to agree with them. But they noticed that people in most other countries of the world already agreed with ...
Read More »
Pope’s World and the Real World
September 29, 2015
Pope’s World and the Real World By Patrick J. Buchanan Tuesday - September 29, 2015 Pope Francis's four-day visit to the United States was by any measure a personal and political triumph. The crowds were immense, and coverage of the Holy Father on television and in the print press swamped ...
Read More »
Ole Blue
September 26, 2015
Ole Blue A young Arkansas lad goes off to college. Half way through the semester, having foolishly squandered all of his money on his girlfriend, he calls home. "Dad," he says, "You won't believe what modern education is developing! They actually have a program here at Hendrix that will teach ...
Read More »
[View More Blogs...]

Powered by
Morris Technology