Angry Fruit

angry-fruit_thumbnailI researched a bit about the next book in our series – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and I was intrigued.  First, a lot of people I discuss books with speak very fondly of Steinbeck as a writer.  Second, it takes place in Oklahoma.  I won’t burst out in song as in the musical, don’t worry.  Although audio clips may be a nice addition to the blog.  Mmmm?  Any who…. Oklahoma is a state you don’t hear too much about really other than it is shaped really funny, like a frying pan.  (I can’t cast stone I grew up in Maryland and I won’t even say what that shape reminds me of!)  So there you have it, a writer there is buzz about and a state that there is no buzz about.  I am so in!!

Let’s dig a bit deeper on two fronts:  1) what’s with the name? and 2)  Andi’s paternal grandparents grew up in OK during this time.

First, I thought we would be reading about wine makers, or survival of the fittest fruit.  Boy was I wrong!  The Grapes of Wrath, comes from a line in the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.  I know the tune being a marching band member.  When I read that the title came from The Battle Hymn…  I looked it up.  Of course I know the first line, who doesn’t, the rest escaped me.  The first verse of the song is as follows:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

After reading this book, this first verse and the title are ever so powerful.  “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stores”.  If only it were true.  The question that came to mind was:  Whose wrath?  I decided it depended on the point of view.  There was a lot of wrath in this novel.  The Californians were furious at the Oklahomans for coming to their state.  The Okies were angry at being thrown off their land.  Women were mad at men.  Old versus young.  Men ticked off at the weather.  And much more.  I find the title brilliantly tied to the prose.  Fantastic!

Now for the “Let’s learn more about Andi” portion of our blog posting.  My father’s family comes from Oklahoma, both my Grandma and Granddaddy were born and raised there.  It opened lots of questions to my Dad.  (Hi DAD!)

Why did Grandaddy and Grandma leave Oklahoma?  What age were they when they left?  Did they every talk about it? Any other family impacted (we still have relatives in OK)?  Dad said he didn’t know about Grandaddy and Grandma but he does remember his cousin talking about heading to CA just like in Grapes of Wrath.  He didn’t know the details but yes our family was displaced.  (as an aside the family returned to OK eventually)

Can you imagine?  Your entire way of living being stripped from you.  You have nothing but the items in your homemade truck, hardly any money, heading to a state you know nothing about, to find a job.  Holy schmoley, bat man.  That this happened boggles my mind.   I can’t even begin to empathize with the people in this book.  Talk about digging deep and forging ahead – but if you had no other choice….  I am not sure I would be strong enough.  If one word could be used to describe this story, it would be perseverance.  Despite everything this family held together, supported each other and kept going.  They refused to give up hope and gave everything they had to help others in need.

Amazingly, this happened within the last 100 years!  I pondered if this could happen today – I don’t believe so.  We had many disasters over the years and Roosevelt’s New Deal is standing the test of time.  We all owe to the greater good, to help take care of our fellow man.  Thank God that people of the United States do not need to be in this situation anymore and I truly hope it stays that way.

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5 responses to “Angry Fruit

  1. Pingback: It is as Easy as Herding Turtles! | EMME Books

  2. Linda Adams, A's Mom

    I liked the book, but some things confused me. Why didn’t the Okies hunt for food? They all came from farms and must have been able to hunt and forage. That’s what those people all did. They seemed to end up in woods by creeks, etc., but they seemed to be starving. Why not kill rabbits, etc., and fish? Didn’t make sense to me except to make the people seem more desperate. My Mom lived in San Francisco at this time, so I asked her what they had contact with Okies there. Her parents were very good people and supported many family members and others during this period. She said they would come to the door looking for food or help. Her mother never sent them away. She said they didn’t have money, but she would always made them sandwiches or gave them some kind of food. Her Dad worked at the Cow Palace as an electrician/facilities guy (Andi and Tommy must have it in their genes!) so he had steady work during this period. But many didn’t, so they always helped when they could. They owned the duplex they lived in and two priests and their sister lived downstairs. They were not able to pay rent for over a year and her Dad let them stay. They later paid all of the money back. One became a bishop and headed the Catholic school system in L.A. People during that period just helped each other in any way they could. The book didn’t get that point across at all I thought and let you think these people never received help except from the government when they could get into the housing. With the sequestor coming, maybe more people will see how the government helps people! I enjoyed the book, but the characters didn’t develop into resourceful people that I believe that group of people would have.

    • Wow Mom! We need to get you to do some posts! Great thoughts! And DUH how could I forget I had relatives on the CA side. Does anyone else out there have relatives that were directly impacted?

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