I recently read John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" for the first time. Published in 1939, it is not just a great American novel, it's a great world novel. Read it over Labor Day weekend and be reminded of the holiday's meaning. Steinbeck re-created a time and place so vividly that I kept reading even when his characters talked about fixing old cars. I became attached to the Joad family and wanted them to survive. Only Al Joad, with his mechanical ability and love of automobiles, appeared to have a future. Those farm families were doomed.

This book reminded me why a democratic government is necessary to protect its citizens from capitalism run amok. Families and workers need each other to survive hard times. Even though "The Grapes of Wrath" is fiction written nearly 80 years ago, it is still all too real.

Sherry Machen, Plymouth