Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Winter of Our Discontent (1961)

AKA the devil’s great American novel. Ethan Hawley is crucified by his family on Good Friday for not giving them a car and a holiday vacation. The man’s morals die (if he ever had any) and Ethan resurrects on Easter Sunday as a manipulative and conniving contender. After turning his boss in for illegal entry, Ethan helps his best friend die of alcoholism in return for property and small town success.

At the beginning of the novel, Ethan is a happy go-lucky guy who makes jokes and plays around with words. In the end, he's tired and his family is quarrelsome. I can see why Steinbeck is considered a great author; I just wish I could get through his books with a little pleasure in the reading process ... I don’t feel for Ethan. I don’t want him to win and I don’t want him to get off with a quick and easy suicide. I guess Steinbeck’s message is that all men are self-serving at their core, and can become ruthless in a war-like situation like the American economic system.

Click here to find out more about The Winter of Our Discontent.

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