Sunday, October 3, 2010

Literature Class

Since today is a rest day (my fourth in a row), I'll take a few paragraphs to explain the name of this blog. It's obviously a lame play on words on the title of John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning book -- a book that I completely abhorred in high school.

Despite the sleep-inducing pace of Steinbeck's doorstop-worthy book, it has some pretty important parallels that led me to use it as my blog's title. For a quick refresher on the plot line, here's a Wikipedia article that summarizes the book:

Set against the carnage of the Great Depression, the main characters (the Joad family) leave their foreclosed Midwestern farm to journey to California. Though on a grander scale, their plight is not much different than that faced by millions of American during our current Great Recession. Like them, I've made the trip across the country, looking for better opportunities.

Agriculture is a prominent theme of the book, and the poor treatment of low-wage farm workers is central to the plot. I can't help but notice that the grapes that I'm processing were probably picked by hard-working farm laborers that made very little money so that we can enjoy our $35 bottles of wine. When I watch the news, I see nothing but angry, white Midwesterners that complain about illegals, but I'm pretty sure that none of them have made the trip to NorCal to pick farm produce. They certainly aren't packing up their belongings to make the journey as they did in the 1930s. Maybe they've lost the drive that people like the Joads had, the desire to find a better life, to move on at all costs, to travel to that new frontier for a better chance at a decent living.

Like the Joads, I'm upending my life to take a journey down an unknown path.  I trust that it'll work out, but it's a big risk and the rewards are uncertain. Though not out of necessity, I am forgoing familiarity and experiencing a radical change in my standard of living.  I am hoping that the gamble will pay off.

Finally, Steinbeck used a character named Jim Casy as a sort of "savior" who takes the fall for a crime committed by one of the Joads. It's an obvious reference to Jesus Christ (they share the same initials). Like Jim Casy, my winery also shares the same initials in its name, though they are simply the initials of the founder.  Still, I'd like to think that it'll save me from a life of corporate drudgery.  It's a stretch, I know, but I just had to draw that last parallel!

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