Grapes of Wrath or Grapes of Death?

Grapes of Wrath or Grapes of Death?

Payton Field , Public Relations Manager

To the students of 10 Grade Honors English,     

Before I begin, I would like to argue and point out that in my personal opinion, summer reading homework should be strictly prohibited. Summer begins by the ring of a bell and the abolishment of homework. So why when summer comes around, do teachers feel the need to assign summer reading homework? If anything, summer assignments should be interesting and not a chore to complete during our three months off. This summer’s reading assignment: Grapes of Wrath.

When you first hear the title, Grapes of Wrath, what comes to mind? For me, my initial thoughts were 464 pages of boredom. To be completely honest, that is exactly what I got. The book centers around Tom Joad and the rest of his family. The family has lost their farm and they make preparations to sell their belongings and move from Oklahoma to California, in search of promised work. Throughout the journey, they face many challenges and deaths. The further west they go, the more resistant and unfriendly the people are. Once they reach California, the family goes from camp to camp in a futile search for work. As the novel comes to an end, the Joad family undergoes hardship and finishes without telling the reader how it ends.

Although the description may seem somewhat interesting, I would beg to differ. Personally, I think the novel has many distasteful qualities; such as,

  • The description. To some people, the novel’s descriptive intercalary chapters show the author’s artistic style in portraying and creating images. Speaking for myself and I’m sure many others, the descriptive paragraphs were a complete waste of space and pages. Each intercalary chapter was too expressive and most often, bored the reader. For all I know, most students skipped these chapters all together and continued trying to finish the book in time before school began.
  • The characters. Since I’m being honest, the characters throughout this book were some of the most abominating characters I have ever read about. Each individual was bothersome, cantankerous, and loathsome. Out of (at least) 20 characters, my least favorite would definitely be Rose of Sharon. I know for a fact, that the people in 5th hour 10th grade Honors English would agree with me. Rose of Sharon was pettish and annoying. She spent over half of the book complaining and worrying about if her husband (who abandoned her) would come back and father their child.
  • The length. Lastly, another one of the most deplorable parts of this book was the length. Almost every other chapter was about 40 pages long. One of the intercalary chapters spent an entire 4 pages talking about how a turtle crossed a road. The boring plot line, the prolonged descriptive chapters, and the annoying characters all add up, making the novel almost impossible to finish.

Despite the opinion’s of students, John Steinbeck’s novel is considered a classic. It talks about the life during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. It’s long intercalary chapters show students how hard life was during this period of time and also how it is an important part of our history. Even though this may be so, I still strongly feel this book should not be part of our summer reading homework.

Over the course of summer, many of my classmates posted about their absolute hate and loathing for this book. The novel’s acclaimed title, Grapes of Wrath, acquired a new one this summer and can often be heard throughout the halls at school. It’s new name is Grapes of Death and I couldn’t agree more.