Despite the vitriolic attempts to abolish the book, The Grapes of Wrath not only survived but had risen to become one of the greatest novels of the Twentieth century. Alongside Of Mice and Men, it continues to define the author and his milieu. A particularly provocative passage from the book that had radical revolutionary tones to it comes in the form of a statement made by Tom Joad:
“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.”
Hence, John Steinbeck’s recognition as one of the greatest American novelists is based on his artistic skill with the pen as well as his empathy for his poor compatriot that manifests itself as social commentary in his works. It can even be asserted that Steinbeck was first and foremost a social commentator and he choose the medium of the novel to fulfill this primary urge in him. The fact that both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men continue to be read widely by young and elderly Americans alike is a testimony to the novels’ qualities of universality and exposé on perennial problems afflicting humanity.