The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Why do you think The Grapes of Wrath is often studied in an American literature class? Why do you think The Grapes of Wrath is often studied in an American literature class?

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Verdie Cremin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with everything that's already been said.  I'd simply add that this book is very powerfully written. I remember reading it while on a long train trip and marking many, many sentences as just exceptionally powerful, vivid, striking, and beautiful. It is easy to forget how funny this book often is. It is a true American epic because it is so comprehensive in the kinds of characters and situations it presents. Many critics claim that Steinbeck never really wrote anything else as powerful as The Grapes of Wrath. From the other works of his that I have read, I would have to agree, but simply by writing The Grapes of Wrath he won a rightfully prominent place in the American literary canon.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One reason is the history. It is such a brilliant and heartfelt depiction of the time period that teachers often want to share it with students. It is an exceptional example of mood in literature. When you read it, you are THERE. The other reason it's assigned so often is the beautiful writing. When I read it for the first time in 10th grade, it made a big impression on me. I was dazzled by the language. When I finished I thought, "Now that is writing.".

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brettd eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Few pieces of literature so accurately capture and portray the desperation of a generation.  While part of the reason any literary piece is taught year after year is tradition, I feel The Grapes of Wrath is one of those novels that defines a country, a people and an era.  The story is so deeply ingrained in our identity as a nation that we have an educational imperative to pass it along to each generation.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In addition to the references above made to the historical nature of this classic and the realistic portrayal of Steinbeck's treatment of the Great Depression, I think above all this novel contains many images that become burned into one's consciousness. The final image of Rose of Sharon breastfeeding the dying man after her own child was stillborn is perhaps one of the most incredible images I have ever come across in literature. It is Steinbeck's ability to capture such unique and powerful images in this novel that makes it such an enduring classic.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In 1962, John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his

"for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception".

A socialist himself, Steinbeck recorded not only the history...

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huckleberry29 | Student

The book does have historical significance because it depicts the Great Depression and Steinbeck is an incredible writer. However, I also feel that this book is discussed in American Lit. classes because of its call for Socialist reform. This can be seen when the Joads go to the one camp that is run by the government; it is like paradise. Every other place is miserable. Steinbeck is making the point that Capitalism causes vast misery and Socialism would be a much better option for America. His opinion is more likely to be well-received because he wrote it into a story that you love and characters that work hard and deserve the best.

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