In a time of widespread drought and economic hardship, it is wise to remember that it could be much worse. John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), is the classic story of the Joad family’s struggle as they leave the Dust Bowl of 1930s Oklahoma and travel to the agricultural mecca of California’s Central Valley.
I read this novel after a road trip from California to Colorado, covering a portion of the distance described in the novel. It meant more to me with the terrain fresh in my mind, although I traveled under different circumstances and in much more comfort.
This epic account is not just about a way of life that no longer exists. It can be generalized to the struggles of those who are treated unjustly in a wide variety of circumstances. It is the story of humanity’s inhumanity, its struggle against itself and the elements. It is a reminder that the world is as just as we make it.