Celebrating John Steinbeck
The grapes of wrath
Summary:The Grapes of Wrath is a landmark of American literature. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.
The moon is down
Summary:Depicts the Norwegian people’s staunch resistance to the Nazi occupation.
East of Eden
Summary:The biblical account of Cain and Abel is echoed in the history of two generations of the Trask family in California.
In dubious battle
Summary:A riveting novel of labor strife and apocalyptic violence, now a major motion picture starring James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Selena Gomez, and Zach BraffA Penguin ClassicAt once a relentlessly fast-paced, admirably observed novel of social unrest and the story of a young man’s struggle for identity, In Dubious Battle is set in the California apple country, where a strike by migrant workers against rapacious landowners spirals out of control, as a principled defiance metamorphoses into blind fanaticism. Caught in the upheaval is Jim Nolan, a once aimless man who find himself in the course of the strike, briefly becomes its leader, and is ultimately crushed in its service.
Travels with Charley : in search of America
Summary:Steinbeck hits the highways with his French poodle, Charley. In a custom-built camper he named Rosinante after Don Quixote’s steed, the two traveled the country–10,000 miles and 34 states. Their varied experiences comprise several slices of small-town, back-roads Americana. Steinbeck laments the rise of plastic-covered everything, the vacuousness of "sad souls" he encounters, and the homogenization of local and regional culture. But bright spots abound, and Steinbeck rarely forsakes his humor and his hope in the human spirit. He reluctantly swings through the segregated Deep South before he concludes his trip. Here, the ugly specter of racism pervades all, and Steinbeck’s chronicle is profoundly disturbing.
Of mice and men
Summary:Set in depresson-era California this book tells a story about the strange relationship of two migrant workers, who dream of better days on a ranch of their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dreams seems within their grasp until one of them succumbs to his weakness for soft, helpless creatures and commits an unintentional act of violence. Tragic tale of a retarded man and the friend who loves and tries to protect him.
The red pony
Summary:Traces a boy’s journey into manhood after his father gives him a pony to train and care for.
Summary:For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to tragedy. Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems.
Summary:“In Monterey, on the California coast, Sweet Thursday is what they call the day after Lousy Wednesday, which is one of those days that is just naturally bad. Returning to the scene of “Cannery Row”, the weedy lots and junk heaps and flophouses of Monterey, John Steinbeck once more brings to life the denizens of a netherworld of laughter and tears – from Fauna, new headmistress of the local brothel, to Hazel, a bum whose mother must have wanted a daughter. [Illustrates the theme that] ‘the common bonds of humanity and love make goodness and happiness possible’ “–P. 4 of cover
Summary:In the shabby district called Tortilla Flat above Monterey, California lives a gang whose exploits compare to those of King Arthur’s knights.
The winter of our discontent
Summary:Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards. Set in Steinbeck’s contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty, and today ranks alongside his most acclaimed works of penetrating insight into the American condition.
Summary:Vividly depicts the colorful, sometimes disreputable, inhabitants of a run-down area in Monterey, California.