Monday, October 8, 2012

Whut? The Grapes of Wrath on the Banned Book List?

Matter Deep Publishing ran a few articles last week featuring stories about our crew's favorite banned books. I thought I would cross post mine here, since the book definitely influenced my work. 

“This is the beginning—from “I” to “we”. If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I”, and cuts you off forever from the “we”.~Chapter 14, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck.
The Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite novels. I was surprised to see it on the banned books list. It has been challenged repeatedly over the years for containing vulgarity and for “inappropriate sexual references”, for example: a minister recounts how he took advantage of a young girl.
I read this book and several others, including The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, that helped me understand a truth about the nature of the world. The concept is that change on any level is difficult, turbulent, painful, and sometimes oh-so-very necessary. It doesn’t matter if the change is on a personal level, a social level, or a clash in weather systems. Change will come and it’s going to cause drama. Yet, there is hope that we will come out the other side, changed for the better and stronger for having lived through a trying time.
As a artist, a figurative oil painter, the concept influenced an entire body of my work. At the time, I was experiencing changes of growth in my own life and watching my children grow into adulthood. These experiences, along with the gelling of the concepts that came out of reading The Grapes of Wrath became The Awakening Series
On the Wing, Awakening Series, oil on panel. 40”x61”, 2003
How sad if this book had indeed been banned and I would not have been inspired to create this series. The Grapes of Wrath is more relevant than ever as our country is coming out of the Great Recession. It’s a story that is as timeless and important as change itself.
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