A sort-of weekly review of what’s been nourishing me lately.
“Why, Tom – us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we’re the people that live. They ain’t gonna wipe us out. Why, we’re the people — we go on.”
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
After all this time in America, I am finally reading the great American novel, Grapes of Wrath. I’m glad I’ve waited this long to go down the road with the Joads. Most people I know who have read it did so in school. I hope they got something out of it, but I know my appreciation is richer than it could have been before I knew something about the weight of being responsible for a family, especially through uncertain times.
I suppose when I was young and single, I would have been caught up in the political theme, and seen Tom Joad as the hero of the journey. As a mother–especially a mother of sons– I am most drawn to the character of Ma Joad. I haven’t done the research, but I’m guessing Steinbeck’s relationship with his own mother must have been a powerful one. It seems like all the quotes I highlight come from the matriarch, or are about her.
“She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials….She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
And this one, from Tom Joad:
“Jesus Christ, one person with their mind made up can shove a lot of folks aroun’! “
Not that I would know anything about that. Ahem.
I’m approaching the final chapters with that poignant feeling that comes near the end of a great book, knowing I’ll miss my time with the Joads. I wonder if any language has a word to describe that particular emotion. If so, it’s proof of an advanced civilization.
If you’ve read the Grapes of Wrath, let me know when, and what you thought about it. Do you have any personal connection to the great dust bowl migration? I’d love to hear about it.
Hope your weekend brings you plenty of good things.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who has been adding my page to their Facebook interests. There have been some great threads over there this week, including one today on raising teenagers. It’s becoming more like the virtual front porch I hoped it would be. Come on by!