10 Literary Road Trips from Tony D’Souza

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Places traveled: Dusty Oklahoma to Weedpatch, California

What I like most about the Joads is that none of them ever wanted to go anywhere, and then they spend so much time on the road, they live on it. They cook, clean, sleep, procreate, and bury their dead on the shoulder of the highway. Unlike Sal and Dean in On the Road, who wander the nation’s interstate system to the point that they prove all this tarmac has left us with nowhere to go, for the Joads, the crest of every rise holds either hope or disaster. The reader gets to see the vast expanse of the West in lyrical terms as they crawl along in their jalopy, learning that “home” is anywhere, as long as we take our love for one another with us. Though the Joads manage to find a temporarily rooted salvation in the Soviet-style Weedpatch camp, the fence that surrounds them warns that to be in motion, even when unemployed and hungry, is to be free.