The Descriptive Writing Style Of John Steinbeck Essay
The novel The Grapes of Wrath is in many ways a one-of-a-kind piece of literature. This work is set up unlike any other book, written in a series of chapters and inter-chapters, which do a remarkable job of informing the reader of the travels the characters in the book are going through. Not only does the story focus on the problems one family goes through, but explains the problem is happening to many more civilians than the story focus’s on. Steinbeck does not leave out a single detail about the Joad family and their journey to California, and that in itself is what makes his writing so entertaining. Not only is this a very powerful topic to write about, but the remarkable writing style of author John Steinbeck makes this book a masterpiece.
From the intensely vivid descriptions of the land to the true-to-the-heart portrayal of people, Steinbeck makes the words flow right off the pages. The first and most predominant notability of Steinbeck’s style is his lavish descriptions of almost everything he writes about. When Steinbeck writes about an unadorned field he is able to give it the brilliance that it deserves. Instead of just a few acres of dirt, Steinbeck makes the reader aware of the heart and soul of the field. By looking further than what is plain to the eye, he creates a special awe for what he is writing about. In the first paragraph Steinbeck draws out the situation of the drought and hence, the dustbowl. He explains, “The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out of the fields and drove grey plumes into the air like sluggish smoke” (16). In this short sentence the reader has an intense picture of this massive amount of dust blowing away. The passage about listening to the car, found in chapter twelve is almost like a poem right in the text of the story. “Listen to the motor. Listen to the wheels. Listen with your ears and with your hands on the steering-wheel; listen with the palm of your hand on the gear-shift lever; listen with your feet on the floor-boards. Listen to the pounding old jalopy with all your senses; for a change of tone, a variation of rhythm may mean-a week here? That rattle-thats tappets. Dont hurt a bit. Tappets can rattle till Jesus comes again without no harm. But that thudding as the car moves along-can’t here that-just kind of feel it. Maybe oil isn’t getting’ someplace. Maybe a bearing’s startin’ to go. Jesus, if it’s a bearing, what’ll we do? Money’s goin’ fast” (90). It is a passage like that, which makes the writing style of John Steinbeck like nothing else.
The next major characteristic about the writing of John Steinbeck is the way he describes the people he writes about. In the first chapter Steinbeck shows the severity of the situation of the farm workers by the way he describes the men after they gaze at their dead crops. He shows a special bond between the men and their families. The women can sense if everything is all right by the look on the face of their husband. This was something he wanted the reader to be aware of; he wanted to make sure it was evident of the special relationship these people had with each other. When Steinbeck introduces a character he not only describes his personality, but every other fact about that person. In the second chapter Steinbeck describes not only Tom Joad, one of the main characters, but the truck driver, with the same amount of detail. With brief, but thorough descriptions of these characters, the reader can actually get a feel for whom they are as a person. Steinbeck explains the mass confusion between the farm workers and the owner men. He writes “Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold” (36). This passage explains that even some of the owners did not want to do what they were forced to do.
The plot of The Grapes of Wrath is a fairly simple one. The families are moving out of states such as Oklahoma and traveling west because they can no longer make a decent living growing crops. However, if one looks past this simple plot they will find out there is much more then meets the eye. The presence of greed is located throughout the novel; an example of this is located in chapter fifteen when it goes on to explain the different ways the waitress, Mae, acts depending on the financial status of the customer. If she is tending to a truck driver, who she knows has money, she will put on a show to lure money out of him, but if it is a traveler going down route 66 that act disappears. The message, which lies deep down in each chapter, is one that questions the greed in our ever-changing society. In our society everyone wants to fit in, and many times not everyone is treated with equal respect. In essence, these people are having their freedom ripped away right in front of their eyes. Steinbeck has strong feelings on this issue and this book illustrates them to the fullest extent.
I would have most certainly agreed with John Steinbeck being a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Anyone with the talent and perseverance to create a novel with the same clarity and realism from page one to seven hundred is most certainly worthy of such an award. I have never come across an author that could write in such a way that the words all seem to blend together in perfect harmony with each other. An example that comes to mind is in a chapter when the Joads are at a square dance; the chapter reads on as if it were actually a square dance call. This style of writing is just so unique to John Steinbeck that it deserves to be recognized as being something special.
The Grapes of Wrath is a perfect example of the magnificence of Steinbeck’s writing. From the way Steinbeck describes natural settings, to the way he describes people, this style of writing is most definitely unique to author John Steinbeck. For all of these reasons John Steinbeck was most worthy of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.