The Grapes of Wrath, as Written by High School Student

“In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” – John Steinbeck

Picture this: 6:58 A.M, you’re scurrying to your 0 period journalism class.

Newspapers B&W (3)

The sky outside is still slightly cloudy, and faint whispers blow around the campus as the earliest risers make their way too class.  You open the door to 0 period, expecting editors typing away at computers, writers doing their work… A productive environment. Suddenly, you’re bombarded with


from your co-News Editor. In confusion, you ask why.

And from that inquiry, the battle begins. A battle between you and your English teacher about your reasons for hating the Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck.

In summary, my co-News Editor, Katrya, awaited my arrival to class for sufficient support on her reasons for disliking the novel. My photomanager, Ashley, and my teacher, Mr. Ziebarth, stood on the offensive, attacking us with why we didn’t like a novel about human struggle, family, hope, and the plight of the migrant farmers.

I righteously stated that I didn’t like the book. Not  in the slightest. For me, I couldn’t resonate with a bunch of 1930’s Great Depression farmers and their twisted family.

Modern day Dust Bowl?

But we all mature with time right? Silly 16-and-5-month old Kristie is different from 16-and 5-month-and-2-week old Kristie.

I didn’t realize it then, but day to day as I read this book, I’ve come to the conclusion that my life parallels this book. You see, after reading Chapter 25, I realized that I’m living in the same situation as the Joads. And now, my grapes of wrath are heavy, and strained.

Like the rest of my classmates,

“In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” – John Steinbeck

Over these last few months, the least I can say is I’m overworked. But every high school student goes through this. It’s not something dramatically new to feel extremely sleep deprived and stressed.

AP testing is in 1 month. And it’s time to say that this feeling of sleep-deprivation and stress and headaches and tears is too much. 

Magdalen College ,one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. Photo by Prabhu Du Boss, Flickr
Magdalen College ,one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford.
Photo by Prabhu Du Boss, Flickr

Let me repeat this: It’s too much. 

It’s too much for me to sleep for 4 hours every night, drag my feet through school, come home, exercise, spend 1.5 hours playing piano and doing extracurriculars, and working the rest.

“I hate how everything moves so freaking fast and I feel like I don’t have time to catch my breath. And if I stop then I’m behind and I can’t be behind with APs and the SAT and extracurriculars,” – Katrya

When I first started school this year, of course, the AP courseload and my activities weren’t too much. Yes, it was a lot of work. But I pushed through for the first 5 months of my school year. Now, the AP’s and the work is killing me.

I realized, now, that I am like the farmers in the Grapes of Wrath. I’m just working, mechanically, like a robot. If you compare education today with the philosophized discussions of the Greeks, you can see that our classrooms and our assessments aren’t nearly as rich or invigorating. I mean, all I study for today is a 50 multiple-choice test to complete in 55 minutes. We’re working our machines to the bone. And the thing that’s controlling us? Well that’s college I’d like to say. Like the Monster bank in Grapes of Wrath, colleges are a monster, throwing us requirements forcing us to work to the bone.

In the souls of the students, our wrath is growing heavy. The burden is simply too much to endure. And just like in the Grapes of Wrath, we students at first just trumped along, doing what these colleges say. But now? Now we’re getting angry. Suddenly, the things colleges say don’t make sense. I see so many articles, arguing “What college you go to” doesn’t matter. (Read this book by Frank Bruni, NY Times columnist: Where You Go is Not Who You will Be” I read websites, with articles who champion that being in National Honor Society doesn’t matter and that all the clubs and sports I am in are insignificant to my future.

In my eyes, these articles and books are a slap in the face to the college system. It’s more anti-college than anything.

And no, I am not boycotting a secondary education. I, too, one day will venture off into the horizon among the likes of other freshmen in college.

Up On The Hill

What I am boycotting is the impossible task of taking 6 AP classes, being the Varsity captain in both Fall and Spring sports, and being the president of 3 other clubs. What I am boycotting are the ridiculous standards set by colleges. What I am boycotting is the stress, the anxiety, and all that nonsense that comes with a letter of “admit.”

I am boycotting the way colleges are ruling my life. Like in Grapes of Wrath, we need a bank, just like we need college.

But there is no way that we need a bank or a college to run our lives.

I started out by loathing Grapes of Wrath. I put off reading the novel to the very last hour of my studies. Usually, I wouldn’t read the book and pray the next day there would not be a reading check quiz.

I see it now. The Grapes of Wrath illustrates a universal struggle, within everyone. The interclary chapters are all universal, the struggle is happening to everyone. And, though my specific struggle is swimming through high school, I believe the struggles illustrated in Grapes of Wrath can be twisted to fit each person’s own conflicts in his life.

We all have our demons, and we all have our strengths. We’re all controlled by somebody. And one day, we will all take a stand.

To Mr. Ziebarth, I take back what I said about Grapes of Wrath not being relateable. Because it really is.


And I know that there are probably a thousand blog posts out there illustrating the woes of a high school student. But hey, like I said earlier, the struggle is universal.


One thought on “The Grapes of Wrath, as Written by High School Student”

  1. The “Grapes of Wrath” does indeed illustrate two universal struggles, which sadly many in the world still fight to achieve: dignity and a brighter future. The lessons you are learning from Steinbeck’s book will be more rewarding than the name of the college you attend. Best of luck with your AP classes!


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