You know, there aren't so many roads in the world can boast the sane popularity that Route 66 can. It's been used in so many pop culture pieces as the subject of songs, movies and books. "The Grapes of Wrath" is one of those books (and later, a movie) that brings the road to fame.
"The Grapes of Wrath" is a classic American novel written by John Steinbeck in 1939. The story is highly decorated as it's collected the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 1962 Nobel Prize. But we're not here to give you just any old book report – this novel largely takes place on the one and only Route 66!
How the plot thickens
The novel itself is a story about a man just been released from prison who returns home only to find that his family has had to move away. The Dust Bowl destroyed all the family's crops so they were forced to vacate their home. The family gets together and decides that their only option is to relocate west to California. Of course, the road that takes them from Oklahoma to California, is our famous Route 66.
We won't spoil the ending, but "The Grapes of Wrath" is a tough yet incredibly moving story that everyone should read. And don't worry, the book doesn't represent what you'll find when you travel Route 66 today. However, you will be able to see some of the history of old America along the way, including ghost towns and trading posts.
Symbolism in the novel
Now let's focus on the road itself in the story. You've heard that the road's nickname is 'the Mother Road', but did you know where that comes from? You guessed it! John Steinbeck was the first to coin the phrase in this novel. He also refers to the road as 'the lifeline' or the 'road of flight' as it is the path that led so many Americans to pursue their dreams. Along the way, others join the trek and the shared dream ends up forming a real sense of community.
In some ways, this is really a story about how Route 66 is perfect for road trips. It was the main road for migrants back in the day, but it's just as popular today! Vehicles just move a little faster …
As you ride your bike or drive your car along the route, look out the window and just imagine all the migrants of days passed that used the road to find work. The country has certainly come a long way since then, but it's cool to think about nonetheless.
Come check out the road that inspired a Nobel Prize story by joining one of our tours. Contact our team to learn more about the experience today!