Grapes of Wrath Comes to Life at Book Talk
By Kathy Garfinkle
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On March 6th members of the Grapes of Wrath leadership team gave the Country Club of Washington Township Women’s Club a dramatic taste of various aspects of this year’s One Book, One Community selection, the Grapes of Wrath.
Mary Lynn Pelican, President of the Women’s Club and on the board of AAUW, welcomed the panel of five representatives of the Grapes of Wrath leadership team.
The five Fremont Branch AAUW women portrayed different aspects of the novel that moved and inspired them.
- Margery Leonard read passages from Chapters 1 and 5 of the book that illustrated how the banks and the new age of mechanization dehumanized people struggling to make a decent living and life for themselves in the depression era of the 1930s.
- Jo Szeto talked about Tom Joad. She was drawn to him as the central figure in the novel. She pointed out that at first he was concerned mainly with himself and his family. But as the novel progresses and he experiences so many unsettling and hurtful events his thoughts turn more to social issues and the depression’s affect on working people.
- I spoke about the emerging strength and power of Ma Joad. I explained that as Pa loses his earning power and strength in the family, Ma begins to emerge as the real power of the family. She fights with all her heart and soul to keep her family from losing heart and falling apart.
- Anne MacLeod focused on the preacher Jim Casey. She felt that although Casey was very spiritual, he believes he doesn’t have the calling or the heart to preach anymore. He seems to be searching for his soul but he doesn’t believe in prayer. He does believe in the people and dies fighting for a better life for the migrant workers.
- Joan Caldwell portrayed the character Rose of Sharon. She got into the skin of Rose and dramatized the world through her eyes. The audience felt this character’s innocence and youth, as well as her emerging maturity, in her reading and understanding. Joan also talked about her memory of the depression as a young girl. Her mother would prepare a meal for the family with one tiny piece of meat. Then she remembers her father would invite strangers to join them for dinner. She never understood why he did that until she was older. It was then she understood that these strangers had little or nothing to eat and that her father invited them out of kindness. It was a great lesson in charity for Joan and for us all.
The members of the Country Clubs showed a lively interest in the panel presentation. It was followed by a brief discussion.
We learned that Washington Township women practice charity by donating gift cards to the George Mark Children’s House Wish List. AAUW Fremont Branch was presented with a $50 Honorarium which we elected to donate to the Wish List.
The program ended with conversation, coffee, tea and yummy cheesecake.