The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940)

Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 15:00 to 17:15


“Maybe I can just find out something. Just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong… Fella ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul. The one big soul that belongs to everybody.”

Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath


“Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours—being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.”

From John Steinbeck’s novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’


The most distressing labor issue raised by ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ [Steinbeck’s novel], from which other problems derive, is society’s refusal of work to the worker. Looking at the Oklahoma part of the story, one sees that numerous conditions have come together to deny small farmers and farm laborers the work necessary for them to support their families. A truck driver first alerts Tom to the situation he will find when he reaches home. The men, thrown out of work because they have been thrown off the land, ponder the philosophical question of who owns the land. Is it the legal owner or the bank with a piece of paper? Or is it the person who has actually, daily, year after year, labored on the soil, who has mixed his labor with the land, whose family is buried on the land, and whose children have been reared on it? In short, what constitutes ownership? Capital or labor?

Claudia Durst Johnson in ‘Labor and Workplace Issues in Literature’, Greenwood Press, Westport & London, 2006, p. 130


“Ford said the story of the Okie [Oklahoma] migration from the depression-era dust bowl to California ‘appealed to me - being about simple people - and the story was similar to the Famine in Ireland, when they threw the people off the land and left them wandering on the roads to starve. That may have had something to do with it - part of my Irish tradition - but I liked the idea of this family going out and trying to find their way in the world.’”

Joseph McBride in ‘Searching for John Ford’


Lees ook Gerard-Jan Claes’ Prisma #8 over The Grapes of Wrath op Sabzian.


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