After reading the The Grapes of Wrath I went on to goodreads.com to mark it as read and stumbled upon a review that compared it with Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged“. Having read both books myself I engaged in the conversation to share my views, which were contrary to the reviewers. The discussion turned out an interesting debate so I decided to capture it here in my blog. You can click here to the thread on Good Reads if you wanted to see the whole thing, but I have copied the last paragraph of Jason’s review and the discussion that followed below:
…….Which leads me to wonder… what would Ayn Rand think of all this? After all, aren’t labor unions and economic regulation precisely what she argues against? By that account, if Atlas Shrugged is the supposed Bible of right-wing thinkers, then I’d have to say that The Grapes of Wrath might just be its antithesis. But the real difference, as far as I can tell, is that while Atlas Shrugged represents a crazy woman’s vision of a whack job world that could never actually exist, John Steinbeck tells it like it is, and how it was, for so many hard working Americans who were taken advantage of under a system that did nothing to protect them. And what’s even more remarkable is that Steinbeck’s characters (whom, by the way, Rand would refer to as “moochers”—just thought we should be clear on that) make Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon look like a couple of pussies. What is it Ma Joad says? That if you’re in trouble or hurt or need, to “go to poor people—for they’re the only ones that’ll help.”
This is a novel about the working poor, and it should serve to remind us what can go horribly wrong in an unregulated economy.
And so it began:
I have just finished The Grapes of Wrath and loved it. I have also read Atlas Shrugged, and also thought about the comparison of the flip side. I loved Atlas Shrugged as well and my interpretation is a little different to yours. I think Dagny Taggert and Henry Reardon would have given the Joad’s a good job for a fair days pay and I would never have called the Joad’s Moochers…..quiet the opposite in fact…way too proud to take money without first working for it.
And so that was the end of that. It made for an interesting debate, and I still totally disagree with Jason’s point of view, but at the end of the day it is exactly these differences that make us unique and keeps life interesting.
Until next time 🙂