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John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck c. 1935. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Major works:
Of Mice and MenThe Grapes of WrathCannery RowEast of Eden

Excerpt from

The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck

When everything that could be sold was sold, stoves and bedsteads, chairs and tables, little corner cupboards, tubs and tanks, still there were piles of possessions; and the women sat among them, turning them over and looking off beyond and back, pictures, square glasses, and here’s a vase.
Now you know well what we can take and what we can’t take. We’ll be camping out—a few pots to cook and wash in, and mattresses and comforts, lantern and buckets, and a piece of canvas. Use that for a tent. This kerosene can. Know what that is? That’s the stove. And clothes—take all the clothes. And—the rifle? Wouldn’t go out naked of a rifle. When shoes and clothes and food, when even hope is gone, we’ll have the rifle. When grampa came—did I tell you?—he had pepper and salt and a rifle. Nothing else. That goes. And a bottle for water. That just about fills us. Right up the sides of the trailer, and the kids can set in the trailer, and granma on a mattress. Tools, a shovel and saw and wrench and pliers. An ax, too. We had that ax forty years. Look how she’s wore down. And ropes, of course. The rest? Leave it—or burn it up.

Read a passage from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
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