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Films >> Grapes of Wrath (1940) >>

The Joad family odyssey from exile in the dust bowls of Oklahoma to the illusory sanctuary of California

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The Grapes of Wrath conveys the universal struggles of a hurting economy through its focus on the Joad family’s attempt to escape their plunging future. The story traces the family’s experiences from failure to failure, through reflection on the past and through the present-time journey they take to strike luck with work in California. Fighting the 1930s “Dust-Bowl” battle, in which fresh crops, jobs, and opportunities are scarce, the Joads pick up the little they have left in their lives to flee a hopeless community in Oklahoma and search for a prospering one in California. As the Joads journey to California, they are baited with job offerings that fail to materialize. Overcoming physical, external hardships with no money, poor conditions, and no guarantee of a better future, the Joads also struggle through internal suffering, as family members fall sick, confidence is crushed, and hope is lost. Yet, through it all, the true journey turns into a test of will as the Joads keep plugging away at their desperate attempt to escape the destitute conditions of the current time. Importantly, this struggle proves ubiquitous, crossing time periods of hurting economies and offering similar views of the conditions of our war-ridden world with the bleak status of the Dust Bowl era.

Jillian Sloand