THE GRAPES OF WRATH by dandanhuanghuang


									                                          THE GRAPES OF WRATH

Plot Summary

     Chapter 1

      There's big-time drought in Oklahoma, folks. Everything dries up under the fierce sun. In mid-June, dark rain
      clouds form up above, but they pass by without dropping rain. In the wake of the rain clouds come fierce winds,
      and the winds kick up the dry earth and the dust that has for so long been baking under the sun. Dust storms
      form, and they are so thick that you can't even see the sun. They drive the Oklahomans inside their homes. The
      crops are ruined.
      Chapter 2
      A truck driver makes small talk in a diner with a waitress.
      Outside a man hangs out around the truck driver's truck. This man is wearing brand new clothes. They aren't
      fancy clothes, but they are brand spankin' new.
      The truck driver pays his bill and goes out to his truck, only to find this sketchy man milling about.
      The sketchy man asks the truck driver if he can hitch a ride with him. Truck driver is all, "Didn't you see my NO
      HITCHIKERS sign?"
      The man convinces the truck driver to give him a ride, and the two have a somewhat awkward drive together.
      The truck driver is really nosy, keeps asking the sketchy man questions, and talks about how he wants to study
      mechanical engineering one day.
      The sketchy man has a real name, and it's Tom Joad.
      Tom drinks whiskey and chitchats with the truck driver.
      When Tom tells the truck driver to pull over and let him out, he thanks him for his generosity, but tells him not to
      be so nosy. He also tells the truck driver that he's just gotten out of prison, where he's been for the past four
      years after being convicted of killing a man.
      Chapter 3
      This chapter is about a turtle, but not just any turtle – a really tough turtle.
      Lots of things get in this turtle's way. For example a fire ant crawls into his shell. Why did the turtle cross the
      road? To avoid the crazy drivers. One woman swerves out of the way in order not to hit our favorite turtle.
      Another driver intentionally tries to hit our turtle.
Chapter 4
Tom drinks some whiskey by the side of the road, and he watches the truck driver drive away. Tom spies a
turtle, and he picks it up and wraps it in his coat. He can feel it struggling to get free.
It's a really hot day today, and Tom has to walk a fair distance. He decides to rest underneath a willow tree. A
strange man is resting under the willow and is singing a song. The strange man recognizes Tom, and Tom
realizes that he's staring at his childhood preacher. The preacher's name is Reverend John Casy, but as it turns
out, he's no longer a preacher. Casy left the religious life a while back and decided to leave town. Casy tells
Tom about the various sins he committed while he was a preacher, not the least of which was sleeping with the
female congregants. A lot. Apparently, there was a good deal of rolling around in the grass, if you catch our
drift. The preacher had a ton of guilt about sleeping with his congregants, but he started to think about the idea
of sin. He says, "There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same
thing". Casy starts to wax a bit philosophical. He tells Tom that he believes that all men's souls are part of one
giant, universal soul. He believes all humans are connected in this way. Tom tells Casy about being sent to jail
for killing a man. FYI, Tom is not ashamed of anything. The way Tom describes it, the McAlester State
Penitentiary is a pretty sweet deal. You get fed on time every single day, you get clean clothes, and you can
take baths all the time. Tom and Casy decide to brave the fierce sun and make their way to the Joad farm,
Tom's homeland. As they get closer and closer to the Joad property, Tom begins to walk down memory lane.
He remembers how his Uncle John traded his father spools of wire in exchange for a pig. He ate the pig in one
night and got really sick. Tom and Casy finally catch sight of the Joad home, but something is amiss. It looks
like a ghost town.

Chapter 5
he landowners and their representatives have to kick tenant farmers off the land. (Tenant farmers are
sharecropping families that work the land and give a cut of the profit that comes from the crops to the
landowner). Because of the drought, the crops have been ruined, and the tenant farmers haven't been able to
pay the landowners for the land.
The landowners are going to grow cotton, a crop that will bleed the soil dry of any remaining moisture and
nutrients. Then the landowners plan to sell the land to unsuspecting East-coasters who are hoping to move
west. The farmers are devastated and can't understand why anyone would kick them off of the land they've
been farming for generations.
The landowners say the bank monster is hungry for money, and that the bank monster can make more money if
it replaces an entire farming family with a single tractor. Yikes!
Tractors invade the land, plowing the soil in preparation for the cotton crops.
A tractor driver can make $3 a day (good money).
The farmers recognize the tractor drivers. They are the sons of family friends. They wonder how anyone could
betray a community by working for The Man.
The tractor drivers say that they have to look out for their own best interests; they have to feed their own
families. The landowners suggest that the tenant farmers move west to California, where there are tons of jobs
and where it is always sunny.
Chapter 6
Tom and Casy inspect the Joad home, but something is amiss. It's completely empty, but nothing has been
stolen. The two deduce that there aren't any neighbors around. If there were neighbors, the house would have
been pulled apart, and the lumber would have been stolen. Muley Graves stops by. Muley is an old friend of the
Joads, and he's gone a bit batty. Tom's parents are staying at his Uncle John's house, and his family is getting
ready to move to California. Muley tells Tom about how his family lost their land. Willey Feeley, another family
friend, drove the tractor that dug up their yard and that crushed their house. Muley's own family has gone west,
but he won't budge. He's made it his job to be a perpetual thorn in the landowners' sides. He doesn't want to
leave his land. Since Uncle John Joad's house is eight miles away, the men decide to camp at the abandoned
Joad home for the night. Muley shares the jackrabbits he caught and killed with Tom and Casy, and Tom has a
really good time skinning and cooking the rabbit meat. On the horizon, the men see a car's lights.

They hide in the cornrows while the men investigate the campsite. Technically, the men are trespassing on
private property. Muley knows all of the landowners' habits and routines. The men decide to spend the night in a
riverbed, well-hidden from the world.
Chapter 7
All over the land, used-car lots appear. There's a profit to be made selling used cars to the families who have
been kicked off of their land, and who are hoping to make it to California. The car salesmen are really
dishonest, and the used cars are overpriced. Families are tricked into buying overpriced cars.
Chapter 8
Tom and Casy get up early the next morning and walk eight miles to Uncle John's house. On their way there,
they watch dogs mating. Tom is reunited with his father (Ma Joad), his father (Pa Joad), Grampa, and Granma.
Everyone is delighted to see him. We're talking spitting-jelly-beans-jumping-for-joy delight. Ma Joad is
especially moved, because she didn't think she'd ever seem him again. Ma cooks up a delicious breakfast for
everyone, and the preacher gives a very unique prayer. Pa shows Tom the new family car that will take them
across the country to California. Al Joad saunters down the road. Al is Tom's younger brother, and he likes girls
a lot. He also wears a big belts and a cowboy hat. Al thinks his older brother is pretty much the best thing since
sliced bread. He's excited to see Tom and to hear about his prison adventures.
Chapter 9
After being kicked off their land, the tenant people have to go through their belongings and to decide what is
essential for them to bring with them, and what is frivolous. They sell the rest of their belongings in town. The
tenant people are nervous to leave and to begin their journeys to California.
Chapter 10
Pa and John go into town to sell the family's belongings. Tom and Ma Joad have a heart-to-heart about
California. Ma is worried that the golden state is not what it's cracked up to be. Pa and John return from their
adventure feeling embarrassed. They were only able to get $18 for all of their earthly possessions. We meet
twelve year-old Ruthie, ten year-old Winfield, and a pregnant Rose of Sharon. Ruthie and Winfield are
mischievous; Rose of Sharon is moony-eyed over her nineteen year-old husband, Connie Rivers. The family
hangs out by the truck and chitchats. Ma cooks up a delicious dinner, while the men decide that the family will
leave the next morning. They are itching to leave. The Joads agree to let Reverend Casy join them on their trip
westward. It's always good to have a preacher on board. There's some pig-slaughtering and pig-salting action.
The next morning, everything gets packed onto the Joad truck, but Grampa doesn't want to leave. He gets very
stubborn about this.Ma puts sleepytime cough medicine in Grampa's coffee, and so he falls asleep instantly.
The Joads carry him into the car. The Joads leave their house.
Chapter 11
The houses that the tenant farmers leave behind slowly deteriorate. Local kids come and break the windows
with rocks. Mice move in and get cozy, and the cats hunt the mice. The wind slowly begins to pull the roof off
the buildings. Everything is empty, empty, empty.
Chapter 12
Highway 66 is a famous road. It carried thousands of people west toward California during the Dust Bowl. The
families who crowd into their used cars learn how to listen to their cars. They listen for any kind of breaking-
down sounds. On the road they meet mechanics and car salesman who again try to rip them off. These
merchants tell them that they're silly to believe that there is opportunity in California. The families keep on
keeping on.
Chapter 13
Al cruises along, and he's really worried that their beautiful car won't make it if it has to cross any mountains.
The Joads stop at a gas station, and they encounter a very anxious gas station owner. The owner is worried
that the Joads don't have any money to pay for their gas. He tells them he's seen so many families who roll by,
begging for gas and food because they don't have any money. The gas station man wants to know what the
country is coming to, and Tom snaps at him for asking a question no one can really answer. Tensions are
running high. Grampa Joad isn't feeling well, and he's a little confused. A car runs over the family dog (who is
nameless). Granted it might not have been a good idea for the pooch to sniff around on the highway, but this is
still a very sad occasion indeed. The Joads keep on, and they later decide to stop on the side of the road where
another family has set up camp. The family is having car trouble and looks perplexed. The campers are Ivy and
Sairy Wilson, and they immediately form a bond with the Joads. Sairy lets Grampa take a nap in her cozy tent.
The families set up camp. Grampa dies soon after the Joads stop. Ma prepares his dead body, while the Joads
dig a deep grave for him. Reverend Casy says a few words at Grampa's funeral. They aren't the warmest words
you could wish for at a funeral, but they are words, and that's all that matters. Al promises to fix the Wilson's
touring car, which has broken down. The Joads and the Wilsons decide that they will travel together to
California. They will caravan, if you will. Everyone's really happy about this idea.
Chapter 14
Our narrator speaks to the landowners and the banks and all of the people responsible for kicking thousands of
tenant farmers off the land during the dust bowl. Our narrator warns these powerful entities that, while it may be
easy to manipulate a single family, it won't be as easy to push around a group of families that have banded
together. Basically, there is strength in numbers.
Chapter 15
All along Route 66 there are little rest stop diners. These rest stop diners are usually run by people named Al,
Susie, Will, Joe, Mae, or Minnie. Not to generalize, or anything. This particular rest stop diner features a
waitress named Mae, and a short order cook named Al. Mae doesn't like it when the migrant worker families
come in to eat, because they usually can't afford the food, and they usually beg for things. Mae prefers the truck
drivers who are flirtatious and who have dough to spend. Mae refers to the migrant worker families as
"shitheels." As luck would have it, here come two such flirtatious, dough-spending truck drivers.
As Mae gets her flirt on, a father and two sons come into the diner. They look very ragged and poor.
The father asks Mae if he can buy a loaf of bread from her, but she says she doesn't sell loaves of bread, only
sandwiches. Al, the short order cook, tells Mae to be nice to the family and to sell them the loaf of bread.
Mae sells them the loaf for 10 cents, and then she also sells the man two pieces of candy for a penny. The two
little boys look ravenously at the candy. We learn that the candy actual costs a nickel a piece, but that Mae was
being generous.
Chapter 16
The Joads and the Wilsons caravan their way down Highway 66. Rose of Sharon tells her mother about all of
the fun things she and Connie are going to do when they get to California – they're going to go to the movies,
have a pretty little house, and buy new clothes for the baby. The Wilsons' touring car is feeling sick and sounds
kind of creaky. Al and Tom know that something's pretty jacked up. They think it's the "con-rod bearing," for
your information. It's Saturday afternoon, and they're several miles from the nearest mechanic/wrecking yard.
They know the wrecking yard will be closed on Sunday, so they either have to act fast or wait until Monday to fix
the car and press on. Tom tells the families to go ahead without him and the preacher, and that they will get the
touring car fixed and then catch up with them later. The touring car is faster than the Joad truck, and so the
chances of catching up to them are good. Ma Joad throws a hissy fit and grabs a jack handle from the back of
the car. She says there is not a snowball's chance in hell that she will allow Tom to be separated from his family
again. Pa Joad tries to calm her down, but Ma Joad just threatens him with the jack handle. Everyone realizes
that Ma Joad has won the argument, and so the Joads and Wilsons pile into the truck and head up the road to
find a campsite. Tom and the preacher stay behind with the touring car. After depositing the family in the
campsite, Al drives back and picks up Tom. The two drive to the nearest wrecking yard, hoping it will still be
open on a Saturday afternoon. After a little digging around, Tom and Al find the part they need to fix the touring
car. The wrecking yard is managed by a one-eyed, smelly man. The smelly man doesn't wear an eye patch.
Let's take a moment to consider that. The one-eyed man moans about how mean his boss is and about how he
never gets to go on dates. Tom tells him to wake up and smell the roses. He advises the one-eyed man to get
an eye-patch, take a shower, fix up one of the broken-down cars, and go seek his fortune. The boys bring the
materials back to the touring car (which is being dutifully guarded by the preacher), and it doesn't take them
long to get the car in ship shape again. The boys drive to the campsite where the rest of the Joads and the
Wilsons have set up camp. It's an expensive campsite, costing the families one half dollar per day. They would
have kept on in search of another campsite, but Granma Joad is really under the weather. No one knows why
Granma is not feeling very well. Um, maybe it's because her husband just died? Just a shot in the dark. All
kinds of men are gathered on the porch steps of the camp owner's house, including Pa and Tom. They are
shooting the breeze. One man talks about how terrible conditions are in California, telling the group that there
are no jobs and that everyone is miserable there. The Joad men decide to shake it off and turn in for the night.
Tom Joad leaves the campsite, because he doesn't want to pay another half-dollar to stay there, and the side of
the road will do just fine as a bed. On his way out, Tom throws a clod of dirt at the camp owner's house.
Chapter 17
As the thousands of families head west on Highway 66, they fall into the rhythms of life on the road. These
families camp every night, and they learn to look out for campsites where people have already settled in for the
night. Unspoken laws and codes are written and are enforced in these little camp communities every night.
These laws and codes help to keep the peace and to make life bearable. The families know to share their food,
to help one another, to gather wood, to collect water, to be friendly. Little worlds are created every night as
families build their campsites, and, in the morning, the worlds are deconstructed and packed away until the next
Chapter 18
The Joads keep on keeping on. Their car climbs the New Mexico mountains, it crosses Arizona.
A snippy border guard in Arizona asks them how long they plan to stay in the state. Welcome to California,
Joads! Look at the mountains you just crossed. Look at that big, scary desert you now have to cross.
The Joads decide to take a load off and to rest by the Colorado River. It's morning, and they don't want to have
to cross the desert in the heat of the day. Granma is not feeling so well. The Joads and the Wilsons set up
camp. The men decide to go skinny-dipping in the Colorado River. Two strangers, a father and a son, join the
Joad men in the river. They are on there way back from California. They tell stories about how terrible things are
in California. There is no land for sale, and Californians are mean. They call the migrant workers, "Okies," a
nickname that means "scum." There is no work to be had, and the Californians are scared that the migrant
workers will steal their land. "Ruh-roh," thinks Pa and Tom Joad. This doesn't sound too hot. Tom Joad decides
to take a nap in the Willows. Noah tells Tom he's not going to continue to journey into California with his family.
He has fallen in love with the Colorado River and wants to live here forever, fishing and swimming.
Tom tries to convince Noah not to leave, but Noah won't listen. Noah tells Tom that he knows his parents don't
really care about him. Sad. Noah disappears for good, and Tom takes a nap. Meanwhile, in the Joad tent,
Granma is lying on the cot and hallucinating. She thinks she sees Grampa and talks to him. Rose-of-Sharon is
a little freaked out by Granma, and Ma tries to calm her down by explaining that death is a natural thing, just like
birth is a natural thing. A big woman with sagging skin barges into the tent and tells Ma that she and some other
people heard that the Joads had a dying woman in their tent. She asks Ma if she'd like her (a complete
stranger) to assemble a prayer circle in the tent to help Granma die. Ma tries to be polite, but is furious by this
woman's audacity and rudeness. She tells They start thudding around and wailing, and they sound like puppies
at a dish. Ma and Rose-of-Sharon are moved by the sound. Granma begins to sleep soundly, and Ma Joad
wonders if she should have been nicer to the Jehovite woman with the sagging skin. Rose-of-Sharon lies down
for a nap, gabbing about all of the fun things she and Connie are going to do when they settle down in
California. There's a rude knock at the canvas tent door, and a man demands to know who is inside. The man
wears a gun and a badge. Ma answers him, and the policeman rudely tells her that she and her family better
not be here tomorrow, or he'll arrest them. Offended by his rude manner, Ma runs at him with an iron skillet and
tells him that, where she comes from, men don't speak to women so disrespectfully. The policeman tells her
that she's in a new place now, a place that doesn't like "Okies" and that doesn't want "Okies" to settle down.
Ma is perplexed by the term, "Okies." Tom wakes up and decides to go for another swim. He encounters a little
boy playing in the water. Ruthie summons Tom from the river, and then stares in bewilderment at the naked
little boy. Ma tells Tom about the rude policeman and about how he called her an "Okie." Tom tells Ma that
Noah has left the family. Ma is shocked and says, "family's fallin' apart" . She reflects on how dirty everyone is
and on how she doesn't even wash the potatoes before she cooks them, "seems like the heart's took out of us".
Ruthie summons the rest of the Joad men from their naps, and Tom tells them that they have to push on.
Ivy Wilson tells the Joads that Sairy's too sick to go on, and that they should leave without them. He's very
serious about this. The preacher goes to see Sairy, and she asks him to pray for her. The preacher tells her he
doesn't know how anymore, but she tells him to do it anyway he can, anyway he wants. Sairy tells him that she
used to sing all the time when she was little and that singing is like praying. She tells the preacher that she feels
like "pain covered with skin", and that she knows what ails her, but that she doesn't want to tell her husband for
fear he'll get too sad. The Joads pack up camp and are careful to bring lots of water on their journey through the
desert. Pa tries to give Ivy some money and food, but Ivy won't take any of it.
Ma puts the money on the ground, and puts the pork pan over it. She tells him that she is going to leave the
money right there. The Joads pile onto the jalopy and head to Needles, CA, where they gas up and look at a
map. The gas station attention tells them they have a lot of nerve to attempt crossing the desert in a beat up
car. Tom replies, "'it don't take no nerve to do somepin when there ain't nothin' else you can do'".

As the Joads leave the station, two station attendants gossip about them. They say, "Okies got no sense and no
feeling. They ain't human. A human being wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand it to be so
dirty and miserable. They ain't a hell of a lot better than gorillas". The Joads crawl through the desert and over
the desert mountains. Uncle John tells the preacher about how his wife died, and asks if it was a sin to let her
die like she did. At dawn, they reach an inspection point, and the inspectors begin to search the car for produce.
Ma tells them that Granma is really sick and to please let them go, so that they can find a doctor. The inspectors
agree. The Joads reach Barstow, and Tom stops the car in order to get Granma to a doctor, but Ma tells him to
keep on driving. They reach the top of the mountains, and they look out and see the golden valley stretched out
before. They pull over to take a gander. They can see vineyards, orchards, sparkling cities, and green fields
stretch before them in the morning sun. Ma looks like she hasn't slept in years. She informs the family that
Granma died a while back, but that she didn't want to tell them for fear they'd stop the car and for fear they'd
never get across the desert. Everyone is moved by the beauty of the valley, and totally freaked out by the fact
that Granma's been dead for a while. The Joads pile back into the car and head down the mountains and into
the valley.the woman that Granma isn't dying, that she's just exhausted. The woman with the sagging skin says
something to the effect of, "Sure, lady, whatever you say. You are the queen of de Nile. I'm going to go
assemble a prayer circle in my tent with the other campers, and we'll pray for your soul, too." In the distance,
Rose-of-Sharon and Ma can hear the prayer circle start singing.
Chapter 19
Once upon a time, the land that is California belonged to Mexico. Pioneers fought the Mexicans for the land,
because their hunger for land was all-consuming. Over time, pioneers began to develop farms. These farms
became small businesses, run by business-minded farmers who were concerned with making a profit.
Eventually, the farms merged, and there were fewer and fewer farmers who owned larger and larger hunks of
land. These farmers hired "Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Filipinos" to work the land, barely paying them and
treating them poorly. The farmers continued to become shrewd businessmen, hiring bookkeepers and teams of
employees to manage the land. Some farmers never even saw the land they owned. When the Dust Bowl
occurred, families from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arkansas flooded into California
looking for work on the farms. These families were hungry and were willing to work for any pay. The farmers
began to pay their employees less and less, because there was a surplus of workers. Everyone hates the
migrant workers: the other workers hate them because they drive the price of labor down, the farmers hate
them because they are afraid they will steal their land, and the merchants hate them because they don't have
any money to spend. The migrant workers live in junkyard camps called Hoovervilles, where there are homes
made from tents, branches, and paper. All around the migrant workers is fallow land, land that is unfarmed and
rich in soil. But this land belongs to the farmers, and not to them. The migrant workers see their children
starving, and they know how easy it would be for them to grow food on these fallow lands, but they don't have a
right to grow food. One migrant worker tries to grow a garden in secret, and a cop kicks him off the land.
Because if you successfully grow a garden or an orchard, you almost own the land. The farmers and
landowners don't like the sound of that.
The landowners grow more and more afraid of the migrant workers: "how can you frighten a man whose hunger
is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him – he has
known fear beyond every other". The Hoovervilles are burned by the Department of Health, for they have
become health hazards. Typhoid has erupted. Three hundred thousand migrant workers have been pushed off
of their lands in the Dust Bowl and have arrived in California. More are coming. The landowners grow more and
more fearful, because history tells them that when "property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away".
The landowners begin to meet and band together in order to strategize ways of disempowering the growing
anger and wrath of the starving workers. The men of the migrant families gather on a porch one night. They
have heard that a little boy has died from not having enough nutrients in his body. His family can't afford a
burial. The men take coins out of their pockets and make a pile of silver for the little boy's burial.
"Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.
Pray God some day a kid can eat".
Chapter 20
Ma, Pa, and Uncle John leave Granma's body with the coroner in Bakersfield. They don't have enough money
to give her a proper funeral. Tom drives the family out to the country where they stop at the first camp they see.
It is a really shady looking camp, with ratty tents and makeshift houses made out of things like moldy carpet and
tattered canvas. Each tent or shack has a car next to it. The Joads ask one couple if they can camp there, but
the couple is really doesn't give a straight answer. A man is fixing a car across the way and tells the Joads they
can set up camp, but that the Deputy Sheriff will be around to push them along soon enough. Little kids have
begun to gather around and to watch the Joads unpack. Tom talks to the man fixing the car. The man tells him
that there's no work to be had in the area and that he's moving his family up north in hopes of work. He tells
Tom that there are over three-hundred thousand migrant workers in California all looking for work. Tom brings
up the yellow pamphlet that he and his family saw boasting of jobs in California. The man tells him that the
landowners printed up thousands of those pamphlets in order to get thousands of starving families to come to
California. Now, there is a surplus of labor, and so the landowners don't have to pay the migrant workers
practically anything. Everyone is starving for work and food. Tom can't believe what he hears, and he asks the
man why anyone hasn't organized the starving workers and led a revolt against the landowners. The man tells
him that people have tried to rebel against the oppressive landowners in the past, but that they have always
been caught and thrown in jail. Now, everyone is scared of rebelling, because, if they do, the police will take
their picture, record their names, and add them to a blacklist. If their name is on that blacklist, they won't be able
to find any kind of work, and their families will starve. The workers are afraid of rebelling. Tom tells the man he'd
beat anybody up who'd stand in the way of his family's survival. The man tells him that if he tried to beat a law
enforcer up, he would eventually end up dead in a ditch. Only a one-line obituary would appear in the local
paper, and it would read, "'vagrant found dead'". The man advises Tom to act stupid, like he doesn't know
anything if he ever comes across a policeman. Tom sits next to the preacher who is staring at and wiggling his
toes. Tom begins to talk to the preacher about what he's just heard, but the preacher knows the situation
already. He knows that there's little work and that the situation is grim. The preacher tells Tom he feels badly for
latching onto the Joad family, eating their food, and not paying them back. He tells Tom he's going to leave
them and go make some money so he can try to repay them. Tom tells him to sit tight, because he's got a funny
feeling that something big and important is about to go down. Rose of Sharon has been puking inside the tent,
and Connie is chilling with her. He is not digging the new campground. This is not what he expected. Connie
wonders whether he should have stayed in Oklahoma and driven a tractor for The Man.
Rose of Sharon starts to worry a little bit about Connie, and tries to remind him of their dream of getting a little
house before the baby comes. Connie goes out front where Ma is cooking up a stew. The local children have
gathered around her pot, and their mouths are watering like faucets. Ma asks them if they've had any breakfast,
and it's pretty clear they haven't eaten in a long time. One little girl tells Ma that she and her family have been
here for six months now, and that her dad is out getting gas so that they can move on to find work. The little girl
tells Ma that she and her family used to live in a government camp. They moved north and, when they came
back, the camp was all full. This camp is pretty much paradise for the migrant workers. They have running
water, hot water, real toilets, and the folks gather round at night and sings songs. Ma is seriously impressed by
this, but is also really upset by the starving children that continue to stare at her pot. Al goes over to meet the
man who is fixing his car. We learn that the man's name is Floyd Knowles. Al and Floyd talk about cars, and Al
asks Floyd whether there's steady work to found in the area. No way, says Floyd. A car pulls up carrying
several men. Floyd asks the men whether they found any work, and the men say absolutely not. It's time to
move on to new country in search of new work. Ma dishes up the stew and leaves some leftovers for the
starving children. The Joads eat inside of the tent because they can't stand to watch the kids devour the near-
empty pot with sticks, spoons, and tin cups. A "strong, broad woman" approaches Ma and coldly berates her for
serving stew to her children. She tells Ma that she's working hard to make ends meet, and she doesn't need
some benevolent woman to make her kids realize that their families are too poor to serve them stew. Ma Joad
tries to talk to the woman, tries to get her to sit down and take a load off, but the woman won't have any of it.
The woman storms back into her tent. Floyd tells Al and Tom that there's work up in Santa Clara Valley picking
prunes and working in the canneries there. Santa Clara Valley is 200 miles north. 200 miles sounds way too far
away for Tom, and he wonders whether there really isn't any work to be had in the area. Floyd gets a wee bit
annoyed, because he's told Tom and Al about, oh, 10,000,000 times that there's no work in the area. He tells
Tom that he's doing him a favor by telling him about Santa Clara, and he asks him and Al not to tell anyone
else. He's trying to keep it a secret so that all kinds of people don't flock up north and horde the jobs.
A nice Chevrolet pulls up to the camp. A man in khaki pants, a flannel shirt, and a Stetson hat steps out. He's
has lots of pens and a pad of paper. The man asks Tom, Al, Floyd and a group of other men from the camp
whether they are looking for work. Heck yes, says a camper The man says that there is work in Tulare country,
but he can't tell them how much they'll be paying workers. Floyd tells the man he'd gladly accept the job, just as
long as the man can give him a contract explaining exactly how much money he'll be making. The man tells
Floyd not to boss him around and tell him how to run his business. Floyd tries to tell the group of men not to
sign up for the jobs until the man shows them his contracting license. The policeman summons his sidekick
from the car. Said sidekick happens to be a policeman with a gun, and the man tells this sidekick that Floyd is
acting "red" and "agitatin" the group. The man asks the policeman if he has seen Floyd before. The policeman
says, yes, indeed, he has. He believes he saw flood the week before at the scene of a robbery. This, we can
tell, is poppycock. Floyd turns red. The deputy commands Floyd to get in the car. Floyd punches the deputy in
the face and runs away. The deputy runs after Floyd, but Tom trips him so that he falls to the ground. From the
ground, the deputy pulls out his gun and aims at Floyd's fleeing frame. He misses Floyd, and, instead, blows the
knuckles off of a harmless woman standing in front of her tent. Her fingers are attached to her hands by strings
of flesh. Floyd heads for the willow trees, and the deputy aims his gun at him once more. Reverend Casy kicks
the deputy in the back of the head, and the deputy goes unconscious. The man speeds away in the Chevrolet.
Casy tells Tom to go hide in the willows in case the authorities come looking for vengeance. More policemen
come to the scene, the other campers retire to their tents, and Casy stays with the unconscious deputy. He tells
the police that he is the one who hit the deputy, and he willingly gets in the police car. The deputy wakes up,
sees Casy in the car, and doesn't think that he is the man who kicked him. Casy assures him that he is.
Casy tells the police to send a doctor for the woman whose knuckles have been blown off. One policeman
checks on her, and then reports back to his buddies that the gunshot sure made a mess of her hand.
The police take Casy away. The camp gradually returns to normal. Ma Joad prepares dinner.

Uncle John is worked up about Casy and about the way he took the blame for Floyd and Tom. He starts to talk
about the sins he's committed. Ma tells John not to confess his sins to other people. John reveals a five dollar
bill and tells them he's been keeping it a secret from the family. He's saved it up, because he knew he would
have to get really drunk at some point. He feels awful about hiding the money from the family, but he really
needs a drink. John gives Pa the five dollar bill in exchange for two dollars. He takes the two dollars into town,
tramples his hat in front of the store, and then goes in to buy alcohol. Rose of Sharon is a hot mess. Connie is
nowhere to be found, and she's not to happy about it. Ma tells Rose of Sharon to stop being a prima donna and
to peel some potatoes. In the woods, Tom and Al run into Ruthie and Winfield, who are impersonating a
drunken Uncle John. Al says that Ruthie needs a whipping. Tom and Al run into Floyd, who tells them that the
"poolroom boys" are going to come and burn down the camp that night. He suggests they get out of town. Tom
tells the family that they have to pack up. Rose of Sharon asks Tom if he's seen Connie, and Tom says he saw
him heading south. The family realizes that Connie has left Rose of Sharon for good. The Joads load up the car
and head south. A group of drunken men are in the middle of the road and they stop the Joad car. They tell
Tom that they don't want any "Okies" in town, and that they better head north until cotton picking season comes
around. Tom keeps his cool, turns the car around, and starts to cry. Tom drives north a little ways, hides in a dirt
road, and then watches the drunken men head for the Hooverville. Tom speeds south.
Chapter 21
Families continue to flood into California from the Dust Bowl, looking for work in the fields and orchards.
The migrant workers are starving, and their children are starving. There are not enough jobs for the number of
people who need jobs in California. Men are willing to work for practically nothing, just so that they can get
work. The price of the fruit, vegetables, and cotton remains the same, but the cost of labor gets smaller and
smaller. The landowners grow rich. The towns grow wary of the migrant workers. They think they are sketchy.

The Californians are freaked out by the rampant hunger of the migrant worker community. Landowners invest
money in spies, guns, gas, and other means of subduing the growing anger and growing desperation of the
migrant worker families. Small farmers begin to lose their land to big landowners, who've grown rich on the
profit that cheap labor allows. They soon have to compete with the other migrant workers for work. "The great
companies did not know that the line between hunger and anger is a thin line…And the anger began to
The Joads arrive at the government camp, lovingly known as Weedpatch, and there's room for them.
The night guard is really nice to them, and tells Tom about how the camp thing works. There's a committee of
elected leaders who run the camp and who decide the rules. There are dances on Saturday nights. This place
is a slice of heaven. The Joads are plum tuckered, and they go to sleep in their new campground.
Tom wakes up at the crack of dawn and sees that someone has a breakfast fire going a few campsites over. He
investigates. A lady nursing a baby is cooking breakfast, and it smells g-o-o-d. She's making bacon, biscuits,
and bacon gravy. An older man and a younger man emerge from the tent wearing new clothes; they are father
and son. The men invite Tom to eat breakfast with them. Tom hears about how the men have had twelve days
of work and are living large. They offer to help Tom get a job with them, laying pipe. Tom practically spits
jellybeans, he's so happy, and he leaves with the men to find work. The men's names are Timothy and Wilkie
Wallace. Tom, Timothy, and Wilkie walk to Mr. Thomas's house, but Mr. Thomas has some bad news bears. He
can't pay them 30 cents an hour anymore. He has to pay them 25 cents an hour. The Farmers Association
(which is run by the Bank of the West) has just mandated that minimum wage will be 25 cents an hour.
Mr. Thomas is livid about this new wage cut, but he can't help it. If he continues to pay his employees 30 cents
an hour, it will send ripples through the community and will cause unrest. The banks may not give him his
annual loan as a result, and he needs the loan. He's just a smalltime farmer with 65 acres. One more thing, Mr.
Thomas says, the Farmer's Association is going to send some rabble-rousers to the Weedpatch dance this
Saturday night. The police can't come into the camp without a warrant, and so they're going to be all covert and
will try to shake things up and make it so they can get a warrant. The Farmers Association doesn't want the
migrant workers to organize – it would be too dangerous for the landowners if the hungry, angry migrant
workers developed an organized community. They might revolt. So just watch out for rabble-rousers, Mr.
Thomas says. The men dig a ditch, and Tom really likes his shovel. Tom finally learns what a "red" is: "a red is
any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty cents-an-hour when we're paying twenty-five!". The camp manager visits
with Ma Joad, and he's a really nice guy. He tells her the Ladies Committee of the camp will be paying her a
visit soon. Ma goes to wash up in the sanitary unit (a.k.a. bathroom), but she accidentally uses the Men's room
instead of the Women's room. A nice man helps her out. Ma is in a frenzy to get the Joad campsite cleaned up
for the Ladies Committee. She tells everyone to go clean up. Rose of Sharon reports back that there are real,
live showers with hot water in the sanitary unit. She has taken a shower, and it was awesome. Ma Joad runs to
take a shower, too. Rose of Sharon is feeling better about herself, until a strange woman comes by and warns
her not to sin by dancing too close with anyone or by acting in any plays. The strange woman tells Rose of
Sharon that two young women in the camp delivered stillborn babies because they sinned too much. She tells
Rose of Sharon that the camp manager is the devil. Fortunately, the camp manager is close by, and, when the
woman leaves, he tells Rose of Sharon that she's just a batty old woman who likes to make people miserable.
Rose of Sharon is freaked out. Ma returns from her shower and tells Rose of Sharon to snap out of it.
The Ladies Committee visits the campsite, and they show Ma Joad how to use the sanitary unit.
The old creepy woman returns to visit the Joad camp and talks about the stillborn babies again. Ma chases her
away with a stick, and the woman starts to howl and pray, her eyes roll back, and she falls on the ground.

Uncle John, Al, and Pa Joad return home, but they have not found any work. Every farm has signs that say
there's no work to be had. Uncle John wonders whether Tom might have left the family for good, but Ma knows
in her heart that he's found work and will return soon.
Chapter 23
The migrant workers are always looking for pleasure; looking for ways to ease their minds and to escape their
sorrows and fears. Sometimes families will sit around telling stories about the days they used to fight and kill
Native Americans for their land. One man describes the sadness he felt when he killed a Native American.
Sometimes, people will save up enough money to go see movies in town, and then they'll come back and give a
full, detailed report of the film. Other times, getting drunk can help you temporarily forget your troubles and
daydream harmlessly in your head. And then there's the harmonica. People like to learn new tricks on their
harmonicas. The guitar's really fun to play too – but you need calluses on your left fingers and a callus on your
right thumb. The fiddle is something else – someone once heard that the older the fiddle, the better the sound.
The people like to dance, too. There's a Texan boy dancing with a Cherokee girl, and they are dancing really
fast. The Texan boy and the Cherokee girl disappear into the darkness together. A preacher assembles
congregants in an irrigation ditch and they pray for the souls of the sinners who watch movies, drink alcohol,
make music, dance, and get busy.
Chapter 24
It's Saturday morning, and everyone's worked themselves into a frenzy as they gear up for the dance tonight.
The dance floor is going to be lit for the first time tonight. The camp leaders are getting ready for the potential
party poopers – men sent by the Farmer's Association to bust up the party and start a fight. If a fight went down,
the police would have a reason to barge in and arrest people, and that is exactly what they want to do.

This dance needs lots of bouncers. Tom is recruited to be a bouncer. Lucky him. He gets to hang out at the
entrance with a super cool man named Jule Vitela, who is half Cherokee. Tom notices three sketchy guys and
does a little investigation. The sketchy guys are indeed sketchy. Tom and his fellow bouncers catch the three
sketchy guys right before they start to cause trouble. Huston, who's kind of like the pseudo-head-of-security at
Weedpatch, gives the sketchy guys a talking to, and then the bouncers let them go free. Pa, John, and other
men of the camp are gathered together to chat about how dire circumstances are these days. Pa tells the story
of a group of "mountain men" who work in the rubber plants in Akron, Ohio. They formed a union, and the
factory owners and townspeople were so mean to them and hated the idea of a union so much that they tried to
run the migrant workers out of town. The workers armed themselves with guns and other weapons, and they
turned on the town. The town never gave them trouble ever again. A man who is known as Black Hat suggests
to the group that they form a union and that they start to arm themselves.
Chapter 25
Spring in California is prettier than just about anything you can imagine. It's a paradise. The state grows full and
rich with fruit. There are blossoms everywhere. Farmers are like surgeons, like artists. They know how to
cultivate the land, to watch for disease, to graft trees, to nurture their produce. But the economy is so poor, that
40 five-pound barrels of pears sell for a mere $5. The farmers with small farms can't make a profit, can't afford
to give their food away. Meanwhile, thousands of people are starving all across California. Landowners spray
kerosene on the oranges so that people won't steal them. All over California, beautiful food is rotting. All over
California, people are dying from hunger. There is a "growing wrath" among the people; in their souls "the
grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy".
Chapter 26
The Joads have been at Weedpatch for one month, and they still haven't found work. They've been feasting
upon fried dough. Ma is worried about Winfield and Rose of Sharon – they don't look too hot.
The family decides to leave Weedpatch and move north to Tulare, where cotton pickers are needed.
The Joads take their time saying goodbye to the camp: Pa and Uncle spend some time on the toilet, Al rolls
around with his new girlfriend, Tom smokes a cigarette with Jule and Wilkie, and Winfield punches a kid for
calling him an "Okie." At the crack of down the next morning, the Joads leave Weedpatch. Soon after, they run
over a nail and pop a tire. As they are fixing the tire, a man pulls over and asks the Joads if they are looking for
work. He tells them that the Hooper ranch, 40 miles north, is looking for people to pick peaches. As they
approach the Hooper ranch, there's some kind of hullabaloo a-brewing. Police stop them behind a line of
several other, beat-up cars. Motorcycles escort the cars into the gates of Hooper ranch. Outside of the gates,
people are screaming and yelling. The Joads are assigned a little shack to stay in, and it is really dirty and
smelly. Pa, Tom, John, and Al head straight for the fields. They are told they can earn five cents per bucket of
peaches that they pick. When they've earned a dollar, Ma goes to the little grocery store in the peach camp and
buys food. Dinner time! Everyone is starving. Tom tries to figure out what all of the hullabaloo with the angry,
yelling people was about. A guard at the peach camp gates tells him the angry, yelling people were picketers,
and then he tells Tom to walk in the other direction. Tom sneaks under the barbed wire fence that surrounds the
peach camp. He wants to figure out what is going down, why people were yelling and screaming outside the
gates of the peach camp. Down the road a ways from the peach camp, Tom spies a tent with a lit lantern. He
pays a visit. It’s Reverend John Casy. Casy is chilling with his cronies, and he tells Tom stories about the time
he spent in jail. He tells Tom that it's powerful when oppressed men get together and fight their oppressors.
The men hear footsteps in the surrounding darkness, so they head for the creek. Tom and Casy try to be all
stealthy and quiet as they move along the creek bed, but suddenly they are flooded by flashlights. A man
carrying a brand new pick axe recognizes Casy, strikes at his head, and kills him instantly. Something hits
Tom's face, and he can feel his cheek torn open. Tom pulls the pick-axe from Casy's head and strikes at the
murder. He has very good aim. Tom runs away from the men with flashlights and pick-axes. Tom sneaks back
into the peach camp. His clothes are soaking wet from having swum across a ditch. His face hurts, because he
has a broken nose and a torn cheek. Tom goes to bed. The next day, everyone goes to work in the fields
except Tom and Rose of Sharon. Tom can't go out for fear he'll be recognized by the guards and taken to jail.
Rose of Sharon is going a wee bit batty, and she thinks that the sin of Tom's murders is going to ruin her baby.
Winfield gets diarrhea from eating too many peaches. He is really sick. The landowners have stopped paying
the workers five cents per bushel of peaches and are now paying a mere two and half cents per bushel.

The family decides that they need to get Tom out of harm's way. They leave that night, nestling Tom between
their two mattresses in the truck bed. The Joads drive north, and they see signs saying that there is work for
cotton pickers. Tom decides to separate himself from the family in order to make them safer. He goes to camp
in the bushes. Nearby is a row of old boxcars that serve as makeshift homes for the cotton pickers. That night
the Joads sleep in their car. They've decided to look for work in the cotton fields.
Chapter 27
Little yellow handbills are strewn all over California, boasting of plenty of work for cotton pickers.

A picker who fills a giant bag full of cotton can earn eight cents for it. The bags are weighed by a clerk.
Corruption abounds. Some pickers put rocks in their bags in order to make it weigh more. Some clerks don't
keep accurate records of the amount a worker has picked.
Chapter 28
The Joads settle in one end of a boxcar, and it is super comfy. Money starts rolling in from the cotton picking,
and the Joads get to buy things like overalls and pork chops. They are living large. A bully steals Ruthie's
Cracker Jack from her, and Ruthie gets into a fight with said bully. She tells her that her brother Tom can kill her
brother, because he's already killed two men. In other words, Ruthie spills the Tom beans. When Ma realizes
that the Tom beans have been spilt, she goes in search of Tom, bringing him some pork chops and potatoes.

Ma and Tom hang out in his palace of bushes. Tom tells her he's been doing a lot of thinking about Reverend
Casy. Tom wants to help organize the migrant workers. He wants to try to bring justice to the starving hordes of
people in California. Ma and Tom say goodbye. On her way back to camp, Ma encounters a man who tells her
that a small cotton farm down the road will need pickers the next morning. Ma tells him she and her family will
be there bright and early. Ma returns to the boxcar. Al and Aggie Wainwright (the daughter of the family who
         lives in the other end of the boxcar) are engaged! The next morning, the Joads and the Wainwrights drive to the
         cotton farm down the road. Rose of Sharon insists on picking cotton, too, even though she's kind of sick and
         weak and very pregnant. Tons of workers show up to pick cotton, and there's not really enough work to go
         around. On the drive home, it starts to rain, and Rose of Sharon starts to get a chill. Everyone huddles together
         in the boxcar, building up the fire, and trying to keep dry.
         Chapter 29
         The winter rains hit California hard, soaking and flooding the fields and orchards. Rain means no work for the
         migrant workers; no work means no food for the thousands of starving families. People can't get dry, diseases
         thrive, and the cars die from having been soaked with water. Many grow desperate for food, resorting to robbery
         in order to survive. Landowners and merchants gather guns and tighten their security to protect themselves
         from the wrath of the workers and their families. Eventually the rain stops, but the families know there will be no
         work until springtime.
         Chapter 30
         The rain keeps pounding down on the camp, and the creek out in front of the boxcars begins to swell.
         Rose of Sharon is feverish and sick. Pa convinces a bunch of men to help him dig troughs to keep the creek's
         water from rising. They dig tirelessly. Rose of Sharon goes into labor, and Ma and Mrs. Wainwright help her
         through her contractions. The men outside continue to dig away, but a big cottonwood tree is swept up by the
         creek-turned-mini-raging-river, and it floats downstream. The tree gets stuck a little ways down, making the
         water rise even faster. The men are freaked out by the flood, and they are also freaked out by Rose of Sharon's
         ear-piercing screams. Eventually, the ear-piercing screaming stops. Pa goes inside the boxcar to check out the
         situation. Mrs. Wainwright shows Pa the blue corpse of a baby. At this point, the water has climbed up to the
         boxcars and cars and is inches thick. Al tries to start the Joad truck, but the engine has been killed by the water.
         Other campers become furious at Pa Joad for convincing them to stay and fight the flood with levy-building
         tactics. Now, no one's car will start, and everyone is stranded. Pa and Al build a platform in the boxcar to keep
         the family dry. The water level is now ankle deep in the boxcar. Ma, Pa, John, Rose of Sharon, Ruthie, and
         Winfield decide to find a drier and safer place. Al decides to stay with the Wainwrights and to look out for the
         Joad possessions. The Joads stumble across a barn, and they go inside to take shelter from the rain.
         Inside, they find a little boy sitting next to man who is starving to death. The boy tells them that his father has
         not eaten anything in six days. Ma and Rose of Sharon exchange a meaningful look, and then Rose of Sharon
         asks everyone to leave her alone with the man in the barn. Rose of Sharon lies down next to the half-starved
         man, she puts his mouth to her breast, and she lets him drink her breast milk. A mysterious smile comes across
         Rose of Sharon's face.

Key Characters
Tom Joad

Tom Joad likes to drink whiskey on occasion.

Ma Joad is one tough cookie, and she also knows how to salt a pig.
Pa Joad
Pa Joad may be the patriarch of the family, but he sure is a quiet one. Having fathered six children and having lived in
Sallisaw, Oklahoma for all of his life, farming the land is all he knows.

Reverend Casy

Who is Reverend Casy? Well, he's a lecherous old man who has given up on his life as a preacher. That's the simple

Uncle John

Uncle John is Pa Joad's lonely older brother. He's a bit of a recluse, but he's got a big heart nonetheless.

Granma is the matriarch of the Joad family. Her heart breaks when her husband dies in the first leg of the Joad journey
westward, and she grows sicker and sicker until she dies quietly..


Grampa Joad is the family's initial patriarch, and he and his wife have to sleep in the barn in the beginning of the novel
because they need to get up so often in the middle of the night to use the latrene.

Al Joad

Al Joad is Tom Joad's sixteen-year-old brother who likes to "billygoat" and "tomcat" his way around the country (a.k.a. his
hormones are raging).

Rose of Sharon Rivers

Rose of Sharon is Tom's younger sister. She is married to Connie Rivers, and has been staying with his family. She is
pregnant with their first child.

Connie Rivers

Connie is Rose of Sharon's nineteen-year-old husband who dreams of going to school in California and working for the
radio there. ...

Noah Joad

Noah Joad is Ma and Pa Joad's oldest son. He "left the impression of being misshapen, his head or his body or his legs or
his mind; but no misshapen member could be recalled".

Ruthie Joad

Ruthie is Tom Joad's twelve-year-old sister, and she is both "grime-faced and wild" and "a little serious in her young-
ladiness" (10.46). She can be a trouble-maker too.

Winfield Joad

Ten years old and "grime-faced," Winfield is the baby of the Joad family, and he's a "trifle of a snot-nose, a little of a
brooder back of the barn, and an inveterate collector and smoker of snipes.
Ivy and Sairy Wilson

Ivy and Sairy Wilson are the first people that the Joads encounter on their journey to California. The Joads camp next to
them on the first night on the road, and the two families become very close.

Muley Graves

Muley is a friend of the Joad family. Like the Joads, Muley's family was forced to leave their house and their land. While
his wife and children chose to head west to California, Muley is too proud to go.

Willy Feeley

Willy Feeley used to be a friend of the Joad family. Now he works for the landowners, and he drives the tractor that
destroys the tenant farmers' homes, that runs families out of town.

Floyd Knowles

Floyd is one of the first people that the Joads encounter in California. He lives in the Hooverville with a wife and children,
and is wise to the ways of job-hunting in California.

Timothy and Wilkie Wallace

Tom meets the Wallaces during his first morning in Weedpatch. They are an incredibly warm and welcoming family (a
father and a son), and they share their breakfast with Tom.

Mr. Thomas

Mr. Thomas owns a small farm and gives Tom, Timothy, and Wilkie work digging a ditch. Mr. Thomas is a good man, and
he hates how corrupt the Farmer's Association (run by the bank of the West) is...

The Wainwrights

The Wainwrights share the boxcar with the Joads near Tulare, CA. The two families get along famously. In true Al Joad
fashion, Al gets his flirt on with Aggie Wainwright.

Theme of Transience - At the heart of The Grapes of Wrath is change, and we watch families cope as they
are forced to change their lives, their homes, and their dreams. Change is bittersweet in this novel because
it is imposed upon thousands of farmers and families who would otherwise prefer to remain right where they
are. The Joads learn to cope with the great changes in their life by sticking together and by reaching out to
other families.

Theme of Family - Family is a means of survival in The Grapes of Wrath. Without each other, the Joads
would have no way of coping with the loss of their land or of getting to California. Family is the one weapon
that the Joads have against the cold, bitter world around. They, along with many other migrant workers,
learn that they are stronger and safer when they reach out to other families, when they create a sense of
Theme of Lies - Central to The Grapes of Wrath is a single lie: thousands of families move west to California
because they believe it to be the land of plenty, a place full of jobs and opportunity. This lie is spread
through a yellow pamphlet dispensed by a Californian landowner looking for workers, and it both gives
families a sense of hope and strips them of hope. Several entities help to sustain this lie: the banks, the car
salesmen, the merchants, and the landowners. The Joads are deceived into thinking that their worries will
be forgotten once they get to California.

Theme of Loss - In the face of loss and poverty, the Joads band together to survive and make do.
Thousands of other similarly heartbroken families in The Grapes of Wrath also recognize the power of
community. However, there are several characters who, overcome by fear, choose to serve themselves
rather than their community at large. Willy Feeley, an old family friend of the Joads, accepts a job working
for the landowners and helps to drive many sharecropping families away.

Theme of Religion - When forced to give up so much, the Joads question their faith in a higher power.
Reverend John Casy, an honorary member of the Joad family, is a quiet man, but he is constantly thinking
about God in The Grapes of Wrath and about the ways in which humans' souls are connected. He has given
up the priesthood, having been a lecherous and rule-breaking preacher, but he still deeply considers the
existence of God and the importance of religion in uniting and inspiring people.

Theme of Gender - The narrator of The Grapes of Wrath paints vivid and general portraits of life in Dust
Bowl America, and clearly delineates the roles of men and women. The men consider the losses, while the
women look on silently, reading their husband's expressions. Men make decisions, and women tend to the
house chores. Men slaughter and hunt, while women prepare and cook. However, despite these very
specific descriptions of gender roles, we see Ma Joad often assume a "man's" duties, and we see Tom Joad
display more traditionally feminine sentiments. The novel complicates its own understanding of women and
men in 1930s America.

Theme of Criminality - By virtue of the fact that Tom Joad is on parole and cannot leave the state of
Oklahoma, the Joads are constantly aware of the law and of trying to adhere to the law. Much of The
Grapes of Wrath deals with families who are treated poorly by the law, whether in their hometown or in their
California towns. We begin to question the validity and the value of the law as we watch the Joad family, and
many other families like them, fight tooth and nail to survive.

Theme of Wealth - Great poverty is juxtaposed with a great appetite for wealth in The Grapes of Wrath. We
watch as desperate economic times make some people, like the bankers and landowners, more greedy,
while other people, like the Joads and other migrant families, become more generous. Wealth is defined as
both money and happiness in the context of this novel, and while some seek to make lots of money at all
costs, the Joads seek only peace and comfort.



Blood is one of the more pervasive Grapes of Wrath symbols. It appears over and over again throughout the
novel, in such examples as the death of the Joads' dog, the birth of Rose of Sharon's baby, the pig
slaughter, and Tom's cutting his hand while fixing the car -- among others. There are also figurative
references to blood in the ways that the soil of Oklahoma is drained of its vitality by the thirsty cotton crop,
and by the ongoing drought, and in the ways that the farmers of Oklahoma are bled by the banks.

The significance of this symbol has to do with Steinbeck's rhetorical argument that the rich were bleeding the
poor dry and profiting from the experience. The employers in California were similarly, in Steinbeck's view,
bleeding the migrant workers dry by paying them so little (and by indebting them to the company store) that
they could never escape poverty -- and could never afford to leave the company's employ.
The Sun

While quieter than blood, the sun serves as one of the powerful Grapes of Wrath symbols. When there is a
drought, the sun is an implacable, constant presence, and it remains with the Joads, even after they leave
their foreclosed farm behind to go work in California. As they ride in their truck, they develop a sunburn, and
there is no relief from it. And so not only has the sun ruined the Joads' crops, it also brings them pain as they
head west.

While much of what Steinbeck has to say in The Grapes of Wrath concerns the ways in which people
oppress one another, the cruelty of nature also appears in the novel, and this symbol is one of the many

Animals and Insects

The first of the Grapes of Wrath symbols from the wild is the turtle, who appears in the "intercalary" chapters
early in the novel -- those that interrupt the Joad narrative with its progress. The turtle is headed
somewhere, and won't change direction, even though cars menace it. Eventually, it ends up in Tom Joad's

This turtle represents the persistence of the migrants, who refuse to give up even after their farms have
been taken away by the banks, their money has been cheated from them by dirty car salesmen and other
business owners, and their family members have sickened and died.

The Joad's dog dies in such a grotesque way that one can't help but see it as an omen for the distortion and
destruction of the Joad family through the rest of the novel. Not only will many of the family members simply
pass away, but those who do remain will have their lives twisted irrevocably.

The grasshoppers that block out the sun, in the novel's reference, and destroy crops, bring to mind the Old
Testament curse called down on the Egyptians, involving the locusts. The idea here, as mentioned above, is
that nature can indeed be cruel, especially if there is no human intervention to help the dispossessed.

Structure –Links and Style in the Intercalary Chapters


Of the 30 chapters of The Grapes of Wrath 16 are considered intercalary, ie they do not deal with the
story of the Joads specifically but they provide a broader social and historic background for dealing
with the story. The chapters generally show the massive scope of the migrant workers’ tragedy.
They provide a rhythm – an alternating focus.

Beginning with Chapter 1, which established themes and sets the mood and setting for the story,
the novel’s plot is interrupted by the odd-numbered chapters, except midway through the novel,
when they occur at chapters 11, 12, 14 and 15. While early critics believed these chapters were
mere distractions, more recent critics discovered important links between these chapters.

Chapter One

1         Steinbeck uses colours in Ch 1 to paint a picture of OK during the drought of the 1930’s.
          What colours does he use?

2         What does his progression of colour (ie from red to pink) tell us about what is happening
          to the land?
Chapter Two

3      The colours red and grey, which dominated Ch 1, play an important part in Ch 2 as well.
       The red sun was the “victor” in the natural world’s war in Ch 1. What is coloured red in Ch

4      The land “lost the war” to wind and sun in the first chapter, ending up a pale grey. What is
       coloured grey in Steinbeck’s second chapter?

Chapter Five

1      List words or phrases from the novel that describe the following:
A      the bank

B      owners

C      tractors

D      man driving tractor

2      What seems to be the connecting link between the bank, the owners, the tractors and the

3      In the last paragraph of Ch 5 when the tractor crumbles the tenant’s house what four
       words describe its final fall?

4      Where have we seen this image before?

Chapter 6

1      This chapter opens with an obvious link to something that happened in Ch 5. What is it?

Chapter 7

1      Ch 7 tells of people buying used cars from unscrupulous salesmen. What link exists
       between Chs 7 and 8?

During the narrative parts of the novel, Steinbeck keeps his style as simple as possible. He uses
dialect in his characters’ speeches.

1       What is dialect?

2       Why would Steinbeck use dialect?

3       Find a couple of examples of dialect. Be sure to record the speaker and page number.

4       Why would Steinbeck want to maintain a straightforward narrative style?

During the intercalary chapters he varies his style considerably. Some are written as essays or as
historical accounts or past events – they all vary according to the purpose intended by the subject

During the turtle chapter (3) he used symbolism combined with a realistic description.
1       Find a quote to illustrate.

In the chapter on Highway 66 he uses a staccato style which makes the reader feel the cars
going by as we watch from the side of the road.
2        Find a quote to illustrate.

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