Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Amazing Chapter

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Chapter 1

The rain leaves Oklahoma in late May, too early in the growing season. The sky and the earth grow pale. The new corn begins to dry up. The roads turn into dust clouds. In mid June, heavy clouds pass over Oklahoma but leave only a spattering of rain.

A gentle wind follows, which develops into a strong, steady gale. The corn crop is ruined, and the country is covered in a dusty haze. Men and women hide in their houses.

When the wind passes on and the dust settles, the people come out of their houses. The men look silently at the dry battered corn. "The women studied the men's faces secretly, for the corn could go as long as something else remained."
Surprisingly I have never read The Grapes of Wrath. No reason, It's just never happened. Well, the other evening I was sitting with my Color Nook at the local Barnes and Noble and just decided to see what it looked like. I was amazed.

My first response was that it was an almost perfect anti-Genesis 1. It was a soft-spoken apocalyptic vision. Since it was so long ago it was not the apocalypse of nuclear war or global warming. Those have been mined well by many authors.

Steinbeck gives us a different wasteland image. It is a land laid waste by the very power of nature. It is a destructive power that seeps and insinuates itself into every nook and cranny of life. It will suck life from the living and turn life into death. It is a perfect foreboding of the lives we will meet in the book.

But in this anti-Genesis, this creation crumbling, there is even the wind moving across the face of the dry land, not the waters. The ruach of God becomes the ruach or relentless dust pushing the possibility of water farther and farther away.
There was dawn- but no day.
Remarkable writing.

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