Abstract

Jesmyn Ward's 2011 National Book Award-winning novel, Salvage the Bones, is a striking complement to Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Like the Joad family, the Batistes of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, are economic outcasts at the mercy of social and environmental forces beyond their control. By the end of the novel, the Batistes have no home; after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, they end up like the Joads: homeless flood victims with no hope except their innate survival instinct and their tenacious ability to lean on each other. Salvage the Bones reminds us that for the impoverished in the United States and around the globe, the dismal existence portrayed in The Grapes of Wrath not only still exists but in some ways has become worse.

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