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And the smell of rot fills the country.

Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth.

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate—died of malnutrition—because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.

The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”

John Steinbeck, The Grapes Of Wrath, Chapter 25, 1939

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Auteur: Martin Pulaski

Dichter, schrijver, blogger, DJ, sensitivist. Stadsleven, literatuur, muziek, film, kunsten. Radioprogramma ‘Zéro de conduite’ op Radio Centraal Antwerpen 106.7 fm en streaming.

2 gedachten over “THE GRAPES OF WRATH, CHAPTER 25”

  1. ieder woord is hier sterk en moet met luide stem gelezen worden.
    ‘And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange.’ Deze zin staat in het midden van het citaat. Hij mag in grote letters, want hij is belangrijk en tekenend. Het volledige citaat mag in grote letters. Het ganse boek.


  2. Ja, Eliane, het citaat staat er omdat het zo pertinent is. En inderdaad, het hele boek. Toch ga ik het niet in z’n geheel citeren. Wie het nog niet heeft gelezen, zou het zo gauw mogelijk moeten doen, nu het nog kan. De Nederlandse vertaling – heel goed gedaan – kost maar ongeveer 10 euro.


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