Is This The Creepiest Ending Ever?
I do my best to not give away the endings of the novels I’m reading on this blog.
We can talk about themes, symbolism, writing style, etc, etc, etc, without getting into the specifics of the ending.
With that said, SPOILER ALERT on today’s post about The Grapes Of Wrath. Really, this isn’t a huge spoiler. The ending makes no sense unless you’ve read the novel. It’s not like the entire Joad family gets eaten by coyotes or anything like that.
So all I want to do today is share with you the final passage of The Grapes of Wrath. If you’ve read the novel, you know that last paragraph is just weird–and a little graphic.
To set the stage, Rose of Sharon, who is recently pregnant and just lost a baby, and a few of the remaining Joads have found shelter in an old barn. Upon entering, they realize two men, obviously struggling and near death, have already occupied the abandoned barn.
So, without further nonsensical ramblings:
For a minute Rose of Sharon sat still in the whispering barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the comfort around her. She moved slowly to the corner and stood looking down at the wasted face, into the wide, frightened eyes. Then slowly she lay down beside him. He shook his head slowly from side to side. Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket and bared her breast. “You got to,” she said. She squirmed closer and pulled his head close. “There!” she said. “There.” Her hand moved behind his head and supported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.
That junk is just crazy. That right there is a grown man breastfeeding–and I mean, literally, breastfeeding–on a woman he just met. Okay, forget the “woman he just met” part. Let’s rephrase it: That right there is a grown man breastfeeding on a woman.
Way to leave us with a nasty taste in our mouth, Steinbeck.
The situation is so bad, so dire—combined with the fact that she just delivered a stillborn baby—that this option was apparently the guy’s only source of nutrition. Or that’s what I’m supposed to believe.
There’s all kinds of symbolism going on there, which I won’t dive into in this post. But, nonetheless, what a creepy, uncomfortable ending.
Am I wrong here? Is that possibly the creepiest ending in all of literature?