So I finally made it through The Grapes of Wrath. It's not that it was a bad book--it was beautifully crafted and engaging when I could make myself read it--I just found it slow and difficult to get into. I also didn't feel particularly connected to any of the characters. I felt for them, I was sorry for the terrible pain and hardship they experienced, but they all seemed so foreign to me.
One thing that was very interesting was to compare the events described in Steinbeck's novel with modern day. We're supposed to be in a recession right now, but to be blunt, it doesn't even compare. It's like comparing a cat scratch to a beheading. Right now, I feel like things are just kind of annoying and somewhat rougher than a few years ago, but the Great Depression was truly crippling. I can't even fathom it... and maybe that was my problem. It's almost like I couldn't believe what was happening in the book could actually happen. The logical part of me knows it was all based on truth and is a very accurate portrayal of what so many people experienced then, but I still find it unbelievable.
I think one thing The Grapes of Wrath has taught me is the importance of being relate-able. In his own way, Steinbeck is relate-able right now because of the recession, but I think that it's crucial to the longevity and future understanding of a piece of writing to not be so strictly bound to one time period or one place. Of course, chronicling history is fundamental to our growth as a society, but future generations need to be able to feel something for your work other than shock and disbelief.