Review: Tobacco Road

Tobacco Road
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would have given this book three stars, but the context of the time it was written in deserves more than that. Scandalous for back then. Despite the apparent ignorance and simplicity of the characters, as a reader I appreciated their ability to be transparent. Complex and wealthy citizens of the world can be just as cruel, but have the luxury of dressing up a pig in hopes you don’t know it’s a pig. Not the citizens of Tobacco Road. They lack the energy and the inclination to wax poetic and disguise their wants and needs.

Writing outloud about how people will resort to destructive sexuality to get their needs met. Shake their stuff to get some snuff. It’s always been done and always will be, but it wasn’t always acknowledged as being a way of sustaining life without morality attached to it. A great example of “As a man thinketh..”

The book is not explicit, rather strongly implicit in it’s demonstration of how people drop all pretense of manners and social niceties when faced with hunger. Hunger for food, affection, validation.

If you saw the old movie, you did not come close to the experience of the book.

For me, it also gave insight as to why it was so important for so many people to hold black people down. For poor whites, there would be no superiority at all if black people were made to be equal. It’s not directly dealt with, but indirectly in the dialogue about the 2 horse cart getting hit by the car.

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