Humanities › Literature Selected Quotes from The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck's Epic Social Commentary on The Great Depression Share Flipboard Email Print Penguin Literature Quotations Funny Quotes Love Quotes Great Lines from Movies and Television Quotations For Holidays Best Sellers Classic Literature Plays & Drama Poetry Shakespeare Short Stories Children's Books By Esther Lombardi Literature Expert M.A., English Literature, California State University - Sacramento B.A., English, California State University - Sacramento Esther Lombardi, M.A., is a journalist who has covered books and literature for over twenty years. our editorial process Esther Lombardi Updated August 10, 2019 "The Grapes of Wrath" is a novel by Nobel-Prize winning author John Steinbeck that is considered a classic piece of American literature. Published in 1939, the plot centers around the Joads, a family of sharecroppers, who journey to California seeking a new life as they attempt to escape the devasting effects of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. Selected Quotes from The Grapes of Wrath "Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes." "Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing.'... I says, 'What's this call, this sperit?' An' I says, 'It's love. I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes.'... I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; maybe that's the Holy Sperit-the human sperit-the whole shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.' Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a sudden—I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it." "They breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat." "The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it." "I got thinkin' how we was holy when we was one thing, an' mankin' was holy when it was one thing. An' it on'y got unholy when one mis'able little fella got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' an' draggin' an' fightin'. Fella like that bust the holi-ness. But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang—that's right, that's holy." "It ain't that big. The whole United States ain't that big. It ain't that big. It ain't big enough. There ain't room enough for you an' me, for your kind an' my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For hunger and fat." "Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments." "Fear the time when the strikes stop while the great owners live—for every little beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken... fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe." "Is a tractor bad? Is the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor were ours, it would be good—not mine, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor does two things—it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people were driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this." "Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum. Don't mean nothing itself, it's the way they say it." "I know this... a man got to do what he got to do." "They's a time of change, an' when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearin' is a piece of all bearin', an' bearin' an' dyin' is two pieces of the same thing. An' then things ain't so lonely anymore. An' then a hurt don't hurt so bad." "And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." "How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him—he has known a fear beyond every other." "We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody. Grampa's grampa, he fit in the Revolution. We was farm people till the debt. And then—them people. They done somepin to us. Ever' time they come seemed like they was a-whippin' me—all of us. An' in Needles, that police. He done somepin to me, made me feel mean. Made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't ashamed. These folks is our folks—is our folks. An' that manager, he come an' set an' drank coffee, an' he says, 'Mrs. Joad' this,' an' 'Mrs. Joad that'—an' 'How you getting' on, Mrs. Joad?' She stopped and sighed. 'Why, I feel like people again.' " "The migrant people, scuttling for work, scrabbling to live, looked always for pleasure, dug for pleasure, manufactured pleasure, and they were hungry for amusement." "In the souls of the people, the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage." "Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an' he foun' he didn't have no soul that was his'n. Says he foun' he jus' got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it was with the rest, an' was whole." "Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an' I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build—why, I'll be there."