It of course is a long book, with many nooks and crannies. I won't even attempt to explore them. But I have an overall deep impression. I think Steinbeck has captured the human nature better than anything I've read in a long time.
He has captured the full spectrum of human personality, just like in real life. On one extreme is Cathy, the sociopath. Then in the middle are many people for whom evil and good are in flux and constant battle . . . like for most of us. Then on the other extreme are Samuel and Lee, who are as saintly as any human can aspire to. Not perfect, but to looked upon in deep respect. But also represented are the "good," like Aaron. Not good in the true sense, but a facade of good that has roots in a deep (think of the subterranean primal flow of consciousness I alluded to in my Oklahoma post) emotional and spiritual discord. I've know many Christians, and have been such a one myself, who ascribed to the "good" on the surface as a substitute or balm for the deeper pain.
Anyway, I had to sing the praises of this book. I wish I could teach a Sunday school class on books like this. They go so far to reveal reality much better than the material that most Sunday school classes handle. The problem is, I feel that most would misunderstand. The Evangelical churches, where I've attempted to do classes on books or movies, if they are not blatantly Christian, say The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, then they don't get it. The first time they get to a word like "damn" the book becomes an outrage. What a shame. On the other extreme, I'm sure I could lead such a class at the Episcopalian church on our island (not all Episcopalian churches are like this) they would miss the point on the other side, as they don't see the Bible as relevant to real life. I think the only place where a book like this would get the respect it deserves and yet yield Biblical insights is maybe somewhere like LAbri, and that rare church which carries such balance.