Along the way, the Joads encounter one hardship after another, along with countless humiliations, as they try to cope with the reality of having no work, no food and no money. Steinbeck shows us (with an unflinching eye) what it must have been like for thousands of families, whose worldly possessions have been reduced to the tattered clothing on their backs and occasional scraps of foods.
Although the Joads have few possessions, and despite a continuous stream of misfortune and bad luck, there is a sparkle of hope and humanity that shines through on almost every page. This is a family that has been kicked and beaten and knocked down, and yet they manage to maintain their dignity.
The Grapes of Wrath is not an easy read, and it will leave many readers feeling uncomfortable. Steinbeck wanted to shock readers into knowing and understanding the plight of the downtrodden during a particularly difficult period in American history, and he succeeded with exceptional brilliance.