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The Winter of Our Discontent (Book Club Edition)
The Winter of Our Discontent - Book Club Edition Author:John Steinbeck Steinbeck's last novel focuses on the theme of success and what motivates men towards it. Reflecting back on his New England family's past fortune and his father's loss of the family wealth, protagonist Ethan Allen Hawley characterizes success in every era and in all its forms as robbery, murder, even a kind of combat, operating under 'the laws ... more »of controlled savagery.'« less
Ethan Allen Hawley is a former member of Long Island's aristocratic class. His family can trace its roots all the way back to the time of the Pilgrims; and he can count among his illustrious forebears sea-captains and men of property. He is an heir to the upright New England tradition.
Due to Ethan's late father losing the family fortune, Ethan now works as a grocery clerk in the same grocery store that his family once owned. With the decline in their social status, Ethan's wife, Mary, becomes restless, and his two teenage children are eager for the material comforts which Ethan can no longer provide. They resent their mediocre social and economic status, and do not value the honesty and integrity that Ethan struggles to maintain in the face of a morally corrupt society.
Growing increasingly jaded by what he views as the underhandedness, cheating and shady dealings that seems to permeate his town with regard to the acquisition of money and success, Ethan, in a moment of personal moral crisis, decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous code of ethics - confident that he will not become corrupted by his actions.
I did enjoy reading this book, although I must admit that initially I found the character of Ethan Allen Hawley slightly annoying. I eventually got more used to his manner and by about halfway through the book I was caught up in the flow of the plot. Overall, I thought that this was an interesting story. In my opinion, it certainly deserves to be classified as a classic, although personally, I may have preferred reading some of John Steinbeck's other works. I give this book an A!