As John Steinbeck explores them in The Grapes of Wrath, the soul and a democracy are made of the same stuff: people working together, recognizing themselves in one another, and treating that interdependence as a "sacred honor." Published in 1939, this novel uses fiction to intervene in one of the twentieth century's worst environmental, economic, and social crises. With urgency and insight, Steinbeck captures the plight of the "Okies," refugees from the Dust Bowl and capitalism run amuck.
The novel has become an American classic, taught in classrooms from junior high to college as essential reading for anyone interested in exploring ideas that run deep not only in American literature but American life. As we progress through The Grapes of Wrath, we will dig into three overarching and converging themes: the necessity of connection, technological change, and resilience and creativity.
The Grapes of Wrath received the National Book Award for Fiction and a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1940; it was cited when John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
We look forward to sharing this book with you! In each of four emails, which you can schedule to receive at a pace that suits your needs, you will receive:
- A summary of a portion of the book.
- Commentary by Julia Davis.
- Questions for reflection and practice.
- An invitation to journal about what you're learning.
Your guide for this exploration is Julia (Julie) Davis, who was a 2018 - 2019 fellow with The Practicing Democracy Project. Julia holds an M.A. and C.Phil. in English and American Literatures and Cultures from Brown University and a B.A. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara. When she created this program, she was pursuing her Master of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology with a focus on Interfaith Chaplaincy. Her interest in chaplaincy grew out of her 17 years experience teaching American literature at the college and high school level. Julia is passionate about the intersection of spiritual practices and social change.
The Grapes of Wrath is one of twelve books included in the We the People Book Club, an opportunity to strengthen your vision of democracy by contemplating America's past and possibilities as presented by classic and contemporary literary voices. You may also be interested in the e-courses mentioned in the sidebar under "Also Recommended."
(choose your own start date and frequency)