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The Grapes of Wrath Summary
John Steinbeck

Everything you need to understand or teach The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

  • The Grapes of Wrath Summary & Study Guide
  • 32 Student Essay
  • 3 Encyclopedia Article
  • 29 Literature Criticism
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The Grapes of Wrath Summary


When The Grapes of Wrath was published on March 14, 1939, it created a national sensation for its depiction of the devastating effects of the Great Depression of the 1930s. By the end of April, it was selling 2,500 copies a day—a remarkable number considering the hard economic times. In May, the novel was a number-one best-seller, selling at a rate of 10,000 copies a week. By the end of 1939, close to a half million copies had been sold.

John Steinbeck was shocked by the tremendous response to his novel. Almost overnight, he was transformed from a respected, struggling writer into a public sensation. Yet The Grapes of Wrath was bound to cause controversy in a country experiencing a decade of major social upheaval during the Depression. With the novel's publication, Steinbeck found himself immersed in a great national debate over the migrant labor problem. Many people were shocked by the poverty...

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