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'Grapes of Wrath' Quotes

John Steinbeck's Famous Epic Novel

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Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath

Penguin
Grapes of Wrath is a novel by John Steinbeck, Nobel-Prize winner for literature. Published in 1939, the novel centers around the Joads, a family of sharecroppers, who journey to California to find a new life--amidst the Dust Bowl devastation of the Great Depression. Here are a few quotes from Grapes of Wrath.
  • "Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 1

  • "Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing.'... I says, 'What's this call, this sperit?' An' I says, 'It's love. I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes.'... I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; maybe that's the Holy Sperit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.' Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a suddent-I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 4

  • "They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 5

  • "The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 5

  • "I got thinkin' how we was holy when we was one thing, an' mankin' was holy when it was one thing. An' it on'y got unholy when one mis'able little fella got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' an' draggin' an' fightin'. Fella like that bust the holi-ness. But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang—that's right, that's holy."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 8

  • "It ain't that big. The whole United States ain't that big. It ain't that big. It ain't big enough. There ain't room enough for you an' me, for your kind an' my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For hunger and fat."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 12

  • "Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 14

  • "Fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live - for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken ... fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 14

  • "Is a tractor bad? Is the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor were ours, it would be good - not mine, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor does two things - it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people were driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 14

  • "Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum. Don't mean nothing itself, it's the way they say it."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 18

  • "I know this... a man got to do what he got to do."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 18

  • "They's a time of change, an' when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearin' is a piece of all bearin', an' bearin' an' dyin' is two pieces of the same thing. An' then things ain't so lonely anymore. An' then a hurt don't hurt so bad."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 18

  • "And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 19

  • "How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him--he has known a fear beyond every other."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 19

  • "We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody. Grampa's grampa, he fit in the Revolution. We was farm people till the debt. And then--them people. They done somepin to us. Ever' time they come seemed like they was a-whippin' me—all of us. An' in Needles, that police. He done somepin to me, made me feel mean. Made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't ashamed. These folks is our folks--is our folks. An' that manager, he come an' set an' drank coffee, an' he says, 'Mrs. Joad' this, an' 'Mrs. Joad' that—an' 'How you getting' on, Mrs. Joad?'" She stopped and sighed. "Why, I feel like people again."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 22

  • "The migrant people, scuttling for work, scrabbling to live, looked always for pleasure, dug for pleasure, manufactured pleasure, and they were hungry for amusement."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 23

  • "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 25

  • "Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an' he foun' he didn't have no soul that was his'n. Says he foun' he jus' got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it was with the rest, an' was whole."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 28

  • "Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why, I'll be there."
    - John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Ch. 28

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