The Grapes of Wrath is a novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The novel tells the story of a shipload of dispossessed farm families from Oklahoma who are attempting to seek better lives for themselves as migrant workers in California during The Great Depression and Dust Bowl. The novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. The book became a classic – The Grapes of Wrath is considered by many to be one of the great American novels of all time.
The story focuses on a family migrating from Oklahoma to California during The Dust Bowl period of The Great Depression. It offers strong social criticism, but also touches on issues related to poverty and greed. The most famous part of the novel is the tragic scene involving Rose of Sharon at the end.  Rose-of-Sharon (Heuchera) A character in The Grapes Of Wrath, Rose-of-Sharon is Jim Casy’s girlfriend who gives birth to Casy’s son. The baby dies in the novel, but Rose-of-Sharon lives on to serve as a symbol of hope.
The name itself is symbolic; it comes from “rose” meaning flower and “sharon” meaning plain or field. The phrase “rose of Sharon” means the Biblical rose or lily (or sometimes “harlot”) that represents beauty and love in the Bible’s Song of Solomon.  The story begins with Tom Joad’s release from McAlester prison. Three years ago, he had killed the man who murdered his mother and sister during The Great Depression while working at The Oklahama (or Oklahoma) Dust Bowl during The Great Depression just outside Duncan, Oklahoma, as The Great Depression was drawing to a close.
The novel takes place as The Dust Bowl is subsiding and The Great Depression is ending, but the Joads are still impoverished and marginalised. The narrative begins with Tom explaining that he had been paroled from McAlester State Penitentiary after serving three years of a seven-year sentence for homicide (he killed a man in self-defense). Tom’s family lives in The Oklahoma Dust Bowl during The Great Depression along with thousands of other Okies who have been forced off their land; families sleep piled together in one room shacks or under trees.
A “truck farm” near Sallisaw, Oklahoma hires some of the destitute migrants as laborers at low pay, and The Joads go to work there. The next day, Tom and his father (and later Pa’s friend) Casey drive their truck into Sallisaw and meet the rest of the family and soon they return to camp. The family is told about a camp for migrant workers; they head west along Route 66 to the “California promised land” where men will receive free food and board in exchange for labor. The Joads travel westward from Oklahoma, leaving behind a trail of dust as The Dust Bowl ends during The Great Depression.
They arrive at an overcrowded government camp at Arvin, California which has been set up by The Resettlement Administration (or RA) near Bakersfield. A man named Muley Graves tells the Joads about The West Coast where The Gold Rush has begun in The Great Depression. The family sets off to The California valley after Tom gets a permit from The Bureau of Indian Affairs (or The BIA). The family arrives in The San Joaquin Valley. However, they cannot find any work because most of the local workers have their own jobs. An old man who had been a preacher named Jim Casy becomes disillusioned with religion and joins the Joads on their westward trek.
He begins reading John Steinbeck’s novel “Tortilla Flat”, which inspires him to become an atheist.  Other people are living by The New River along Route 66 where The Dust Bowl ends during The Great Depression. The Joads find work there at The Bardsdale Cannery where workers are exploited and poorly paid. The family stays in a dirty, crowded bunkhouse (dormitory) belonging to The cannery’s owners (who run The California vineyards). One night, Tom is awakened by Jim Casy who tells him that he no longer believes in God; he has become influenced by Steinbeck’s “Tortilla Flat”. 4]
The next day, Ma Joad must search for her husband (and eventually finds him at The side of The road). He says, “they ain’t no use to stand it” and suggests they should leave the camp they won’t starve to death in The Dust Bowl during The Great Depression. The family sets off for The West Coast. They have heard about farm work in The San Joaquin Valley from a laborer who has gone north with his boarding pass in hand. The Joads travel to The California canning factory—one of the last Okies there, because The Gold Rush has finally ended during The Great Depression. 5]
The next morning, Tom reveals that he had been kicked out of a hobo camp near where they are staying at night because a man was killed there by a train and he is worried this might happen again when they return from their day’s labor picking fruit where The Dust Bowl ends during The Great Depression. That evening, Ma explains how her family will function with The New Deal during The Great Depression. The family sets off in search of work at The San Joaquin Valley where The Dust Bowl ends during The Great Depression. 
The Joads sneak into an orchard near Dinuba, California under cover of darkness and are hiding beneath some trees when they see a flood of Okies who have been run out of camp due to the presence of The Black Plague mosquito (the insect vector for The bubonic plague). They all head west along Route 66 toward The Promised Land (a farm in Weedpatch) where Tom works for six days straight without rest; he leaves his family after receiving his pay on Saturday night. Ma remains at the farm. After three weeks, The Joads have moved to The river and The California valley where The Gold Rush has begun in The Great Depression.
The family intends to stay at The camp until the floods recede so they can return home.  The novel ends with Rose of Sharon, the pregnant sister of Tom Joad, offering her water-filled breast milk to a starving man named dying from The Black Plague mosquito (the insect vector for The bubonic plague). He drinks greedily and begs for more before he dies; she says, “I got it from the cow”, which is ironic because Rose of Sharon was starving on what would have been sufficient food for the entire family had she not given away her portion as an act of charity.