Andreas Kluth, soon-to-be-published author and a writer for The Economist magazine, is rereading Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath now that his beat is the State of California and the state of California. He got me thinking again about the novel that wedged its way into my life every April.
It is surely one of the most complete descriptions of human heartache.
And of human hope. And anger. Remember, we have Wrath in the title.
Of all our high school discussions about everything from dust to the shocking ending in which Rose of Sharon nurses a starving man (high school kids were grossed out by this thought!) the inter chapter which describes the turtle trying to cross a highway evoked the best conversations.
One doesn’t have to be a literary or biblical expert to determine Steinbeck’s intention using this reptilian metaphor at the beginning of a story about the downtrodden Oakies, trying to make their way in the 1930’s across Route 66 to what they thought was the Promised Land of California, the so-called Land of Milk and Honey.
As the turtle begins his journey across the road (of life), motorists (humanity) fall into one of two categories: those who try to hit the turtle, thus rendering it road kill, or those who swerve to avoid it, and in some cases, risk their own safety.
Humans seem to fit into one of these two groups today.
Don’t you think?