The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck
The Grapes
of Wrath

John Steinbeck

Copyright 1939 John Steinbeck

Who willed this book
Who lived it

TO THE RED COUNTRY and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains
came gently, and they did not cut the scar red earth. The plows crossed and recrossed
the rivulet marks. The last rains lifted the co rn quickly and scattered weed colonies and
grass along the sides of the roads so that the gray country and the dark red country
began to disappear under a green cover. In the last part of May the sky \
grew pale and
the clouds that had hung in high puffs for so long in the spring were dissipated. The
sun flared down on the growing corn day af ter day until a line of brown spread along
the edge of each green bayonet. The clouds appeared, and went away, and in a while
they did not try any more. The weeds grew darker green to protect themselves, and
they did not spread any more. The surface of th e earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as
the sky became pale, so the earth became pa le, pink in the red country and white in the
gray country.
In the water-cut gullies the earth dusted dow n in dry little streams. Gophers and ant
lions started small avalanches. And as the shar p sun struck day after day, the leaves of
the young corn became less stiff and erect; they bent in a curve at fi rst, and then, as the
central ribs of strength grew weak, each leaf tilted downw ard. Then it was June, and
the sun shone more fiercely. The brown lines on the corn leaves widened and moved in
on the central ribs. The weeds frayed and e dged back toward their roots. The air was
thin and the sky more pale; and every day the earth paled.
In the roads where the teams moved, wher e the wheels milled the ground and the
hooves of the horses beat the ground, the dirt crust broke and the dust \
formed. Every
moving thing lifted the dust into the air: a wa lking man lifted a thin layer as high as his
waist, and a wagon lifted the dust as high as the fence tops, and an automobile boiled a
cloud behind it. The dust was long in settling back again.
When June was half gone, the big clouds moved up out of Texas and the Gulf, high
heavy clouds, rainheads. The men in the fi elds looked up at the clouds and sniffed at
them and held wet fingers up to sense the wind. And the horses were nervous while the
clouds were up. The rainheads dr opped a little spattering and hurried on to some other
country. Behind them the sky was pale again and the sun flared. In the dust there were
drop craters where the rain had fallen, and there were clean splashes on the corn, and
that was all.
A gentle wind followed the rain clouds, driving them on northward, a wind that
softly clashed the drying corn. A day went by and the wind increased, steady,
unbroken by gusts. The dust from the roads fluffed up and spread out and fell on the
weeds beside the fields, and fell into the fi elds a little way. Now the wind grew strong
and hard and it worked at the rain crust in the corn fields. Little by little the sky was
darkened by the mixing dust, and the wind felt over the earth, loosened the dust, and
carried it away. The wind grew stronger. The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out
of the fields and drove gray plumes into th e air like sluggish smoke. The corn threshed
the wind and made a dry, rushing sound. The fi nest dust did not settle back to earth
now, but disappeared into the darkening sky.

The wind grew stronger, whisked under stones, carried up straws and old leaves,
and even little clods, marking its course as it sailed across the fields. The air and the
sky darkened and through them the sun shone redly, and there was a raw sting in the
air. During a night the wi nd raced faster over the land, dug cunningly among the
rootlets of the corn, and th e corn fought the wind with its weakened leaves until the
roots were freed by the prying wind and th en each stalk settled wearily sideways
toward the earth and pointe d
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 233
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.