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John Steinbeck: Strong Women, Single Motherhood And Breastfeeding

John Steinbeck is easily my favorite American author along with Mark Twain.

My favorite Steinbeck novel is The Grapes of Wrath.  After being forced off their land the Joad family leaves their Oklahoma farm and emigrates to California in search of work and a new home.  But their experiences, not only on the long road to California, but after they get there, are heart breaking.

There are so many compelling elements in this book that apply to women today.  Especially the theme of strong women giving their all to keep fragile families together and the debate about single motherhood sparked by Joad family daughter Rose of Sharon’s husband abandoning her in California when she’s expecting their baby.

It’s the last scene of the book that absolutely ripped my heart out.

After losing her baby, the formerly self-centered Rose of Sharon, breast feeds a dying man who is giving all his food to his young son.

The dominant philosophy in this book is that despite troubles and hard ships, a family can pull through by sticking together.  Although the family is poor and homeless, they manage to work through the hardships as a family.  Seems especially timely considering the state of the economy and what so many American families are going through now.

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