I feel like it’s cliche to say that The Winter of Our Discontent is well-written. If you’ve taken ninth grade high-school English, I’m confident you’ve encountered John Steinbeck at least once. There’s no doubt he’s a fantastic writer. Of Mice of Men or East of Eden, anyone?
However, The Winter of Our Discontent was not as fluid as Of Mice and Men nor did it possess the sheer strength in characterization or plot as East of Eden. It may be my underdeveloped adolescent mind at work here, but I found the book a bit banal.
It’s about a middle-aged grocery clerk living in New England during the 1960’s who struggles to appease his wife’s wish for higher social standing as well as his children’s constant desire for material goods. The plot itself did not present anything mind-blowing – the underlying theme of morality made me think though. In fact, the entire book seemed fixated on that one premise: Ethan Hawley’s deteriorating ethical standards and the result of his descent into dishonor.
Also, there are a lot of spectacular quotes in this book. For example:
“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”
“When a condition or a problem becomes too great, humans have the protection of not thinking about it. But it goes inward and minces up with a lot of other things already there and what comes out is discontent and uneasiness, guilt and a compulsion to get something -anything – before it is all gone.”