The Grapes of Wrath Speech

Good Morning.

Today I'll be discussing the book which I read, The Grapes of Wrath (show book), by John Steinbeck.

This book follows the struggles and hardships of small farmers, who, because of a dry season, lost their land to the Bank. The story, taking place in Oklahoma, starts as Tom Joad manages to convince a delivery man to give him a ride to his family's farm. On the ride there Tom admits to the delivery man that he was just paroled, having spent four years in prison for bashing a man's head in with a shovel. When they reach the dirt road leading to the farm, Tom gets out and walks. Walking down the road a while, Tom sees a man sitting in the shade of a tree. The man recognizes Tom, and tells him that he used to be the preacher around those parts when Tom was a boy, Reverend Jim Casy. They walked toward the house, but when they saw it, it had been abandoned. A neighbor came by, and explained to them that everyone had been pushed off their land. He told 'em that Tom's family was at his Uncle John's, and that had he shown up any later, he would have missed them, 'cause they were going to California.

Tom and the preacher slept the night there by the house, and before dawn the next morning they walked the 8 miles to Uncle John's. His unsuspecting family was overjoyed to see him, and that night they got everything ready to go. Early the next morning, the whole family -- Tom, Ma, Pa, Granma, Grampa, Noah (who was Tom's older brother), Al (his 16 year old brother), Rose of Sharon (his pregnant sister) and her husband Connie, the two younguns (Ruthie and Winfield), Uncle John, and Casy -- all climbed into the truck and they set out for Highway 66, the road to California.

Out on the road they faced many hardships and trying times. A few days into the trip, Grampa died of a heat stroke, and since they only had $150, they had to bury him by the roadside; they couldn't afford anything more. Nights they slept in the small camps that formed near a supply of fresh water. They had to cross the desert with little water and a dwindling supply of food and money. Granma died just before they had gotten past the dester and would have a chance to see the lush fields, the fruit-laden trees, the land they believed was paradise, almost too good to be true.

It didn't take long for them to realize that this was too good to be true. The Joads were only a few of the millions of displaced farmers who had come to California, and more were pouring in every day.

The rich landowners had sent out thousands of flyers stating they needed men to pick their crops. The job might require only a couple hundred men, but since thousands showed up, the owners could get away with paing extremely low wages. If a man refused to work for so low a price, the owner sent him away, another hungrier man would always be willing to take the job, if only to keep his family fed.

The landowners despised the people pouring in, Okies, as they called them. They feared the Okies would steal their land. The owners knew that these men were desperate. They feared that if a leader were to emerge among the Okies, that would be the end of things as they knew it. The landowners oppressed the Okies, not realizing that oppression only strengthens and unites the oppressed. The owners were only sealing their own inevitable fate.

I can't go into much detail on the rest of the book because too much happens to tell about in four minutes, but I can say that everything in it points toward this inevitable revolution.

While in a camp, Tom tripped a cop, but Casy took the heat for it and was taken to jail. The Joads stayed in a government camp for a while, which was like an oasis of freedom in this land of oppression. However, they had to move on to find work. When they found work, Tom met Casy, who had been released from jail, and who was leading a strike. Casy explained to Tom that he had figured out what was going on, and that he knew a revolution was coming. They didn't get to talk long, though, 'cause Casy got his head bashed in by a club-weilding cop. When Tom saw this, he lost all control, he grabbed the club and beat the man to the ground. He managed to escape back to his family, and it was decided that he must go into hiding. Tom later knows that Casy was right, and takes his place as the leader of the revolution.

I'm not going to tell you how the story ends, but I will say that it doesn't end the way you think it would. All in all, I thought that this was a darn good book, and I would recommend it to someone who enjoys reading more than just a good story.

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