The Daily Oklahoman

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A key newspaper for the Oklahoma City area, The Daily Oklahoman, published many articles on John Steinbeck and The Grapes of Wrath. These feature articles varied in length and opinon. In the immediate aftermath of the novel’s publication (1939-1941), most editorials and letters to the editor were highly critical. For instance, the newspaper published excerpts from Lyle Boren's speech to the House of Representatives on The Grapes of Wrath and John Steinbeck. Boren requested that readers write to him to express their ire (Shockley 355-357).

Those who crafted letters to the editor often mentioned they had not read a page of The Grapes of Wrath, yet, they denounced its content and themes all the same. Politicians’ widely known criticisms of the book may have influenced their opinions. In particular, several Oklahomans thought that Steinbeck misrepresented Oklahoma and the migrant experience. They also found his language foul and inappropriate. Prominent voices, such as Boren, had leveled the same critiques (Shockley 353-359).

Other residents from the Dust Bowl region, including Oklahomans, thought Steinbeck’s work accurately captured their plight. Several mentioned that they could relate to the Joads’ experience on a personal level. Due to these individuals’ low standing in society, however, their support often remained undocumented and overlooked (Shockley 355).

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, public opinion shifted. The majority of Oklahomans now appreciated and approved of The Grapes of Wrath. The State of Oklahoma even invited Steinbeck to visit in 1957 to see the positive changes that his novel had inspired. Today, high school and college students throughout the state read the novel as part of their curriculum. Many Oklahomans consider The Grapes of Wrath to be a story of pride, endurance, and grit. 

Works Cited

Shockley, Martin Staples. “The Reception of the Grapes of Wrath in Oklahoma.” American Literature, vol. 15, no. 4, 1944, pp. 351-361.

The Daily Oklahoman