‘The Grapes of Wrath: An Artful Jurisprudence’

Alice Diver, Jules Bradshaw

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The novel's central focus allows it to seek compassion for displaced, vulnerable groups. This does not detract from its complexity: it remains a well-crafted, increasingly relevant work, worthy of the praise, criticism, and controversies that continue to surround it. By documenting the harsh realities of the era, the novel calls to mind, however, those UN Country Reports that describe and denounce avoidable landscapes of poverty, hunger, homelessness, and dispossession against a framework of human rights law and policy. The novel's prescient warnings encompass not only the humanitarian crises brought about by climate change and unethical commercial practices, but also the ongoing global atrocities (wars, corrupt regimes, ethnic cleansing, and displacement of populations) that still serve to spark and underpin refugee existence and a chronic disregard for human dignity. As such, it requires the reader to judge those responsible and to evaluate the failings of the various global and domestic systems that enable and perpetuate such rights violations. The final scene, rich with symbolism, arguably, serves almost as quasi-courtroom: readers must serve as jurors rather than silent witnesses, if only to apportion blame for all that has gone before (or indeed continues to happen, almost a century later).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-181
Number of pages20
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2021


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