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Full text of "The Grapes Of Wrath"

TIGHT BINDING BOOK 



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The Grapes of Wrath 




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Also by John Steinbeck 

THE WINTER O F OUR DISCONTENl 

O N C E T II E R E \V A S A \V A R 

I II L S I! O R I R T I G N* OF PIPPIN IV 

S \\ K ! I I 1 1 L' R S I) A 'N 

F A S I O I I I) I- N 

I 11 1 LOG I' R O M 1 H K S I- \ O I- C O R I F 7 

B L R N I N G K R I C. II T ( P I \ ^ IX S T O R \ I () K M ) 

A R I S S I \ X J O L R N \ I 

I 11 F PI \ R I 

I II 1 \V A \ \V \ R I) H I; S 

( \ N N I K \ R O \V 

O MBS \ \\ \ V 
AI O O N IS I) O \\ N ( N O V I I ) 

MOON IS I) O \V N ( P I X ^ ) 
SI V O I ( O R 1 L 7 (IN ( O I L \ B O R \ 1 I O N 

\\ i i n r n \\ A R i> r. R i c K L r i s ) 

I II I I O R (, O 1 I I N \ I I I \ (, I ( I) O I I M F N I \ R ^ ) 
I II P L O V G \ \ I L K \ 

I II I RID P O N ^ 

' O I- M I (. I AND M 1 N ( N O \ ! L ) 

O F M 1 C fc. \ N 1) M L N ( P I A \ ) 

S \ I N 1 K \ I V I 1 1 I VIRGIN 

IN I) L B I O L r S B A 1 I L I 

F O R I I L L A FLAT 

I O A GOD L N K X O W N 

THE PASTURES OF HEAVEN 

C L" P O F GOLD 



The 



Grapes of 
Wrath 



JOHN STEINBECK 



THE VIKING PRESS NEW YORK 



To CAROL who willed this book. 
To TOA1 ivho I reed it. 



COPYRIGHT CO I939 BY JOHN STEINBECK 

COMPASS HOOKS EDITION 

ISSUED 1958 BY I HE VIKING PRESS, INC. 
625 MADISON AVE., NFW YORK 22, N. ^. 

DISTRIBUTED IN CANADA BY 
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA LIMITED 

PRINTED IN U.S.A. BY THE MURRAY PRINTING COMPANY 
TWELFTH PRINTING MARCH 1962 



The Grapes of Wrath 



Chapter One 



TO THE red country and part of the gray country of 
Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did 
not cut the scarred earth. The plows crossed and 
recrosscd the rivulet marks. The last rains lifted the corn 
quickly and scattered weed colonies and grass along the sides 
of the roads so that the gray country and the dark red coun- 
try began to disappear under a green cover. In the last part 
of May the sky grew pale and the clouds that had hung in 
high puffs for so long in the spring were dissipated. The sun 
flared down on the growing corn day after day until a line 
of brown spread along the edge of each green bayonet. The 
clouds appeared, and went away, and in a while they did not 
try any more. The weeds grew darker green to protect them- 
selves, and they did not spread any more. The surface of the 
earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, 
so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white 
in the gray country. 

In the water-cut gullies the earth dusted down in dry lit- 
tle streams. Gophers and ant lions started small avalanches. 
And as the sharp ^un struck day after day, the leaves of the 
young corn hjcame less stiff and erect; they bent in a curve 
at first, and then, as the central ribs of strength grew weak, 
each leaf tilted downward. Then it was June, and the sun 
shone, more fiercely. The brown lines on the corn leaves 
wid ed and moved in on the central ribs. The weeds frayed 

3 



4 The Grapes of Wrath 

and edged back toward their roots. The air was thin and the 

sky more pale; and every day the earth paled. 

In the roads where the teams moved, where the wheels 
milled the ground and the hooves of the horses beat the 
ground, the dirt crust broke and the dust formed. Every 
moving thing lifted the dust into the air: a walking man 
lifted a thin layer as high as his waist, and a wagon lifted the 
dust as high as the fence tops, and an automobile boiled a 
cloud behind it. The dust was long in settling back again. 

When June was half gone, the big clouds moved up out 
of Texas and the Gulf, high heavy clouds, rain-heads. The 
men in the fields looked up at the clouds and sniffed at them 
and held wet fingers up to sense the wind. And the horses 
were nervous while the clouds were up. The rain-heads 
dropped a little spattering and hurried on to some other 
country. Behind them the sky was pale again and the sun 
flared. In the dust there were drop craters where the rain 
had fallen, and there were clean splashes on the corn, and 
that was all. 

A gentle wind followed the rain clouds, driving them on 
northward, a wind that softly clashed the drying corn. A 
day went by and the wind increased, steady, unbroken by 
gusts. The dust from the roads fluffed up and spread out and 
fell on the weeds beside the fields, and fell into the fields a 
little way. Now the wind grew strong and hard and it 
worked at the rain crust in the corn fields. Little by little the 
sky was darkened by the mixing dust, and the wind felt over 
the earth, loosened the dust, and carried it aw#y. The wind 
grew stronger. The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up 
out of the fields and drove gray plumes into the air like slug- 
gish smoke. The corn threshed the wind and made a^ dry, 



The Grapes of Wrath 5 

rushing sound. The finest dust did not settle back to earth 
now, but disappeared into the darkening sky. 

The wind grew stronger, whisked under stones, carried up 
straws and old leaves, and even little clods, marking its 
course as it sailed across the fields. The air and the sky dark- 
ened and through them the sun shone redly, and there was a 
raw sting in the air. During a night the wind raced faster 
over the land, dug cunningly among the rootlets of the corn, 
and the corn fought the wind with its weakened leaves until 
the roots were freed by the prying wind and then each stalk 
settled wearily sideways toward the earth and pointed the 
direction of the wind. 

The dawn came, but no day. In the gray sky a red sun 
appeared, a dim red circle that gave a little light, like dusk; 
and as that day advanced, the dusk slipped back toward 
darkness, and the wind cried and whimpered over the fallen 
corn. 

Men and women huddled in their houses, and they tied 
handkerchiefs over their noses when they went out, and 
wore goggles to protect their eyes. 

When the night came again it was black night, for the 
stars could not pierce the dust to get down, and the window 
lights could not even spread beyond their own yards. Now 
the dust was evenly mixed with the air, an emulsion of dust 
and air. Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around 
doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it 
could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the 
chairs and tables, on the dishes. The people brushed it from 
their shoulders. Little lines of dust lay at the door sills. 

In the middle of that night the wind passed on and left 
the land quiet. The dust-filled air muffled sound more com- 



6 The Grapes of Wrath 

pletely than fog does. The people, lying in their beds, heard 
the wind stop. They awakened when the rushing wind was 
gone. They lay quietly and listened deep into the stillness. 
Then the roosters crowed, and their voices were muffled, 
and the people stirred restlessly in their beds and wanted the 
morning. They knew it would take a long time for the dust 
to settle out of the air. In the morning the dust hung like 
fog, and the sun was as red as ripe new blood. All day the 
dust sifted down from the sky, and the next day it sifted 
down. An even blanket covered the earth. It settled on the 
corn, piled up on the tops of the fence posts, piled up on 
the wires; it settled on roofs, blanketed the weeds and trees. 
The people came out of their houses and smelled the hot 
stinging air and covered their noses from it. And the chil- 
dren came out of the houses, but they did not run or shout 
as they would have done after a rain. Men stood by their 
fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now, only a 
little green showing through the film of dust. The men were 
silent and they did not move often. And the women came out 
of the houses to stand beside their men to feel whether this 
time the men would break. The women studied the men's 
faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something 
else remained. The children stood near by, drawing figures 
in the dust with bare toes, and the children sent exploring 
senses out to see whether men and women would break. The 
children peeked at the faces of the men and women, and 
then drew careful lines in the dust with their toes. Horses 
came to the watering troughs and nuzzled the water to clear 
the surface dust. After a while the faces of the watching men 
lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry 
and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and 
that there was no break. Then they asked, What'll we do? 



The Grapes of Wrath 7 

And the men replied, I don't know. But it was all right. 
The women knew it was all right, and the watching children 
knew it was all right. Women and children knew deep in 
themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their 
men were whole. The women went into the houses to their 
work, and the children began to play, but cautiously at first. 
As the day went forward the sun became less red. It flared 
down on the dust-blanketed land. The men sat in the door- 
ways of their houses; their hands were busy with sticks and 
little rocks. The men sat stillthinkingfiguring. 



Chapter Two 



AiUGE red transport truck stood in front of the lit- 
tle roadside restaurant. The vertical exhaust pipe 
muttered softly, and an almost invisible haze of steel- 
blue smoke hovered over its end. It was a new truck, shining 
red, and in twelve-inch letters on its sides OKLAHOMA 
CITY TRANSPORT COMPANY. Its double tires were 
new, and a brass padlock stood straight out from the hasp 
on the big back doors. Inside the screened restaurant a 
radio played, quiet dance music turned low the way it is 
when no one is listening. A small outlet fan turned silently in 
its circular hole over the entrance, and flies buzzed excitedly 
about the doors and windows, butting the screens. Inside, 
one man, the truck driver, sat on a stool and rested his el- 
bows on the counter and looked over his coffee at the lean 
and lonely waitress. He talked the smart listless language of 
the roadsides to her. "I seen him about three months ago. 
He had a operation. Cut somepin out. I forget what." And 
she "Doesn't seem no longer ago than a week I seen him 
myself. Looked fine then. He's a nice sort of a guy when 
he ain't stinko." Now and then the flies roared softly at the 
screen door. The coffee machine spurted steam, and the 
waitress, without looking, reached behind her and shut it off. 
Outside, a man walking along the edge of the highway 
crossed over and approached the truck. He walked slowly 
to the front of it, put his hand on the shiny fender, and 



The Grapes of Wrath 9 

looked at the No Riders sticker on the windshield. For a 
moment he was about to walk on down the road, but instead 
he sat on the running board on the side away from the res- 
taurant. He was not over thirty. His eyes were very dark 
brown and there was a hint of brown pigment in his eyeballs. 
His cheek bones were high and wide, and strong deep lines 
cut down his cheeks, in curves beside his mouth. His upper 
lip was long, and since his teeth protruded, the lips stretched 
to cover them, for this man kept his lips closed. His hands 
were hard, with broad fingers and nails as thick and ridged 
as little clam shells. The space between thumb and forefinger 
and the hams of his hands were shiny with callus. 

The man's clothes were new all of them, cheap and new. 
His gray cap was so new that the visor was still stiff and the 
button still on, not shapeless and bulged as it would be when 
it had served for a while all the various purposes of a cap- 
carrying sack, towel, handkerchief. His suit was of cheap 
gray hardcloth and so new that there were creases in the 
trousers. His blue chambray shirt was stiff and smooth with 
filler. The coat was too big, the trousers too short, for he 
was a tall man. The coat shoulder peaks hung down on his 
arms, and even then the sleeves were too short and the front 
of the coat flapped loosely over his stomach. He wore a 
pair of new tan shoes of the kind called "army last," hob- 
nailed and with half-circles like horseshoes to protect the 
edges of the heels from wear. This man sat on the running 
board and took off his cap and mopped his face with it. Then 
he put on the cap, and by pulling started the future ruin 
of the visor. His feet caught his attention. He leaned down 
and loosened the shoelaces, and did not tie the ends again. 
Over his head the exhaust of the Diesel engine whispered in 
quick puffs of blue smoke. 



io The Grapes of Wrath 

The music stopped in the restaurant and a man's voice 
spoke from the loudspeaker, but the waitress did not turn 
him off, for she didn't know the music had stopped. Her ex- 
ploring fingers had found a lump under her ear. She was 
trying to see it in a mirror behind the counter without let- 
ting the truck driver know, and so she pretended to push a 
bit of hair to neatness. The truck driver said, "They was a 
big dance in Shawnce. I heard somebody got killed or some- 
pin. You hear anything 1211 "No," said the waitress, and she 
lovingly fingered the lump under her ear. 

Outside, the seated man stood up and looked over the 
cowl of the truck and watched the restaurant for a moment. 
Then he settled back on the running board, pulled a sack 
of tobacco and a book of papers from his side pocket. lie 
rolled his cigarette slowly and perfectly, studied it, smoothed 
it. At last he lighted it and pushed the burning match into the 
dust at his feet. The sun cut into the shade of the truck as 
noon approached. 

In the restaurant the truck driver paid his bill and put his 
two nickels' change in a slot machine. The whirling cylin- 
ders gave him no score. "They fix 'em so you can't win 
nothing," he said to the waitress. 

And she replied, "Guv took the jackpot not two hours 
ago. Three-eighty he got. How soon you gonna be back 
by?" 

He held the screen door a little open. "Week-ten days," 
he said. "Got to make a run to Tulsa, an' I never get back 
soon as I think." 

She said crossly, "Don't let the flics in. Either go out or 
come in." 

"So long," he said, and pushed his way out. The screen 
door banged behind him. I fe stood in the sun, peeling the 



The Grapes of Wrath 1 1 

wrapper from a piece of gum. He was a heavy man, broad 
in the shoulders, thick in the stomach. His face was red and 
his blue eyes long and slitted from having squinted always 
at sharp light. He wore army trousers and high laced boots. 
Holding the stick of gum in front of his lips he called 
through the screen, "Well, don't do nothing you don't want 
me to hear about." The waitress was turned toward a mirror 
on the back wall. She grunted a reply. The truck driver 
gnawed down the stick of gum slowly, opening his jaws and 
lips wide with each bite. lie shaped the gum in his mouth, 
rolled it under his tongue while he walked to the big red 
truck. 

The hitch-hiker stood up and looked across through the 
windows. "Could ya give me a lift, mister?" 

The driver looked quickly back at the restaurant for a see- 
ond. "Didn' you see the No Riders sticker on the windshield?" 

"Sure I seen it. But sometimes a gu\ 11 be a good guy even 
if some rich bastard makes him carry a sticker." 

'I he driver, getting slowly into the truck, considered the 
parts of this answer. If he refused now 7 , not only was he not 
a good guy, but he was forced to carry a sticker, was not 
allowed to have conipnnv. If he took in the hitch-hiker he 
\\as automatically a good guy and also he was not one \vhoni 
any rich bastard could kick around. lie knew he was being 
trapped, but he couldn't sec a way out. And he wanted to 
be a good guy. He glanced again at the restaurant. "Scrunch 
down on the running board till \\G get around the bend," 
he said. 

The hitch-hiker flopped down out of sight and clung to 
the door handle. The motor roared up for a moment, the 
gears clicked in, and the great truck moved away, first gear, 
second gear, third gear, and then a high whining pick-up and 



12 The Grapes of Wrath 

fourth gear. Under the clinging man the highway blurred 
dizzily by. It was a mile to the first turn in the road, then 
the truck slowed down. The hitch-hiker stood up, eased the 
door open, and slipped into the seat. The driver looked over 
at him, slitting his eyes, and he chewed as though thoughts 
and impressions were being sorted and arranged by his jaws 
before they were finally filed away in his brain. His eyes 
began at the new cap, moved down the new clothes to the 
new shoes. The hitch-hiker squirmed his back against the 
seat in comfort, took off his cap, and swabbed his sweating 
forehead and chin with it. "Thanks, buddy," he said. "My 
dogs was pooped out." 

"New shoes," said the driver. His voice had the same qual- 
ity of secrecy and insinuation his eyes had. "You oughtn' to 
take no walk in new shoes hot weather." 

The hiker looked down at the dusty yellow shoes. "Didn't 
have no other shoes," he said. "Guy got to wear 'em if he 
got no others." 

The driver squinted judiciously ahead and built up the 
speed of the truck a little. "Coin' far?" 

"Uh-uh! I'd a walked her if my dogs wasn't pooped out." 

The questions of the driver had the tone of a subtle exam- 
ination. He seemed to spread nets, to set traps with his ques- 
tions. "Lookin' for a job?" he asked. 

"No, my old man got a place, forty acres. He's a cropper, 
but we been there a long time." 

The driver looked significantly at the fields along the road 
where the corn was fallen sideways and the dust was piled 
on it. Little flints shoved through the dusty soil. The driver 
said, as though to himself, "A forty-acre cropper and he 
ain't been dusted out and he ain't been tractored out?" 

" 'Course I ain't heard latelv," said the hitch-hiker. 



The Grapes of Wrath 13 

"Long time," said the driver. A bee flew into the cab and 
buzzed in back of the windshield. The driver put out his 
hand and carefully drove the bee into an air stream that blew 
it out of the window. "Croppers going fnst now," he said. 
"One cat' takes and shoves ten families out. Cat's all over hell 
now. Tear in and shove the croppers out. How's your old 
man hold on?" His tongue and his jaws became busy with 
the neglected gum, turned it and chewed it. With each open- 
ing of his mouth his tongue could be seen flipping the gum 
over. 

"Well, I ain't heard lately. I never was no hand to write, 
nor my old man neither." He added quickly, "But the both 
of us can, if we want." 

"Been doing a job?" Again the secret investigating casual- 
ness. He looked out over the fields, at the shimmering air, 
and gathering his gum into his cheek, out of the way, he spat 
out the window. 

"Sure have," said the hitch-hiker. 

"Thought so. I seen your hands. Been swingin' a pick or an 
ax or a sledge. That shines up your hands. I notice all stuff 
like that. Take a pride in it." 

The hitch-hiker stared at him. The truck tires sang on the 
road. "Like to know anything else? I'll tell you. You ain't 
got to guess." 

"Now don't get sore. I wasn't gcttin' nosy." 

"I'll tell you anything. I ain't hidin' nothin'." 

"Now don't get sore. I just like to notice things. Makes the 
time pass." 

"I'll tell you anything. Name's Joad, Tom Joad. Old man 
is ol' Tom Joad." His eyes rested broodingly on the driver. 

"Don't get sore. I didn't mean nothin'." 

"I don't mean nothin' neither," said Joad. "I'm just tryin' 



14 The Grapes of Wrath 

to get along without shovin' nobody around." He stopped 
and looked out at the dry fields, at the starved tree clumps 
hanging uneasily in the heated distance. From his side pocket 
he brought out his tobacco and papers. He rolled his cigarette 
down between his knees, where the wind could not get at it. 

The driver chewed as rhythmically, as thoughtfully, as a 
cow. He waited to let the whole emphasis of the preceding 
passage disappear and be forgotten. At last, when the air 
seemed neutral again, he said, U A guy that never been a truck 
skinner don't know nothin' what it's like. Owners don't want 
us to pick up nobody. So we got to set here an* just skin her 
along 'less we want to take a chance of gettin' fired like I just 
done with you." 

" 'Predate it," said Joad. 

"I've knew guys that done screwy things while they're 
drivin' trucks. I remember a guy use' to make up poetry. It 
passed the time." He looked over secretly to see whether 
Joad was interested or amazed. Joad was silent, looking into 
the distance ahead, along the road, along the white road that 
waved gently, like a ground swell. The driver went on at last, 
"I remember a piece of poetry this here guy wrote down. It 
was about him an' a couple other guys goin' all over the 
world drinkin' and raisin' hell and screwin' around. I wisht I 
could remember how that piece went. This guy had words 
in it that Jesus H. Christ wouldn't know what they meant. 
Part was like this: 'An' there we spied a nigger, with a 
trigger that was bigger than a elephant's proboscis or the 
whanger of a whale.' That proboscis is a nose-like. With a 
elephant it's his trunk. Guy showed me in a dictionary. Car- 
ried that dictionary all over hell with him. He'd look in it 
while he's pulled up gettin' his pie an' coffee." He stopped, 



The Grapes of Wrath 15 

feeling lonely in the long speech. His secret eyes turned on 
his passenger. Joad remained silent. Nervously the driver 
tried to force him into participation. "Ever know a guy that 
said big words like that?" 

"Preacher," said Joad. 

"Well, it makes you mad to hear a guy use big words. 
'Course with a preacher it's all right because nobody would 
fool around with a preacher anyway. But this guy was 
funny. You didn't give a damn when he said a big word 
'cause he just done it for ducks. He wasn't puttin' on no 
dog." The driver was reassured. He knew at least that Joad 
was listening. He swung the great truck viciously around a 
bend and the tires shrilled. "Like I was sayin'," he continued, 
"guy that drives a truck does screwy things. He got to. He'd 
go nuts just scttin' here an' the road sneakin' under the 
wheels. Fella says once that truck skinners cats all the time- 
all the time in hamburger joints along the road. 1 ' 

"Sure seem to live there," Joad agreed. 

"Sure they stop, but it ain't to eat. They ain't hardly ever 
hungry. They're just goddamn sick of goin' get sick of it. 
Joints is the only place you can pull up, an' when you stop 
you got to buy somepin so you can sling the bull with the 
broad behind the counter. So you get a cup a coffee and a 
piece pic. Kind of gives a guy a little rest." He chewed his 
gum slowly and turned it with his tongue. 

"Must be tough," said Joad with no emphasis. 

The driver glanced quickly at him, looking for satire. 
"Well, it ain't no goddamn cinch," he said testily. "Looks 
easy, jus' settin' here till you put in your eight or maybe 
your ten or fourteen hours. But the road gets into a guy. 
He's got to do somepin. Some sings an' some whistles. Com- 



1 6 The Grapes of Wrath 

pany won't let us have no radio. A few takes a pint along, 
but them kind don't stick long." He said the last smugly. "I 
don't never take a drink till I'm through." 

" Yeah? " Joad asked. 

"Yeah! A guy got to get ahead. Why, I'm thinkin' of 
takin' one of them correspondence school courses. Mechani- 
cal engineering. It's easy. Just study a few easy lessons at 
home. I'm thinkin' of it. Then I won't drive no truck. Then 
Til tell other guys to drive trucks." 

Joad took a pint of whisky from his side coat pocket. 
"Sure you won't have a snort?" Flis voice was teasing. 

"No, by God. I won't touch it. A guy can't drink liquor 
all the time and study like I'm goin' to." 

Joad uncorked the bottle, took two quick swallows, re- 
corked it, and put it back in his pocket. The spicy hot smell 
of the whisky filled the cab. "You're all wound up," said 
Joad. "What's the matter got a girl?" 

"Well, sure. But I want to get ahead anyway. I been train- 
ing my mind for a hell of a long time." 

The whisky seemed to loosen Joad up. He rolled another 
cigarette and lighted it. "I ain't got a hell of a lot further to 
go," he said. 

The driver went on quickly, "I don't need no shot," he 
said. "I train my mind all the time. I took a course in that 
two years ago." He patted the steering wheel with his right 
hand. "Suppose I pass a guy on the road. I look at him, an' 
after I'm past I try to remember ever'thing about him, kind 
a clothes an' shoes an' hat, an' how he walked an' maybe 
how tall an' what weight an' any scars. I do it pretty good. 
I can jus' make a whole picture in my head. Sometimes I 
think I ought to take a course to be a fingerprint expert. 
You'd be su'priscd how much a guy can remember." 



The Grapes of Wrath 17 

Joad took a quick drink from the flask. He dragged the 
last smoke from his raveling cigarette and then, with cal- 
lused thumb and forefinger, crushed out the glowing end. 
He rubbed the butt to a pulp and put it out the window, 
letting the breeze suck it from his fingers. The big tires sang 
a high note on the pavement. Joad's dark quiet eyes became 
amused as he stared along the road. The driver waited and 
glanced uneasily over. At last Joad's long upper lip grinned 
up from his teeth and he chuckled silently, his chest jerked 
with the chuckles. "You sure took a hell of a long time to get 
to it, buddy." 

The driver did not look over. "Get to what? How do you 

j 

mean?" 

Joad's lips stretched tight over his long teeth for a mo- 
ment, and he licked his lips like a dog, two licks, one in each 
direction from the middle. His voice became harsh. "You 
know what I mean. You give me a goin'-over when I first 
got in. I seen you/' The driver looked straight ahead, gripped 
the wheel so tightly that the pads of his palms bulged, and 
the backs of his hands paled. Joad continued, "You know 
where I come from." The driver was silent. "Don't you?" 
Joad insisted. 

"Well sure. That is maybe. But it ain't none of my busi- 
ness. I mind my own yard. It ain't nothing to me." The 
words tumbled out now. "I don't stick my nose in nobody's 
business." And suddenly he was silent and waiting. And his 
hands were still white on the wheel. A grasshopper flipped 
through the window and lighted on top of the instrument 
panel, where it sat and began to scrape its wings with its 
angled jumping legs. Joad reached forward and crushed its 
hard skull-like head with his fingers, and he let it into the 
wind stream out the window. Joad chuckled again while he 



1 8 The Grapes of Wrath 

brushed the bits of broken insect from his fingertips. "You 
got me wrong, mister," he said. "I ain't keepin' quiet about 
it. Sure I been in McAlcstcr. Been there four years. Sure 
these is the clothes they give me when I come out. I don't 
give a damn who knows it. An' Fin goin' to my old man's 
place so I don't have to lie to get a job." 

The driver said, "Well that ain't none of my business. I 
ain't a nosy guy." 

u Thc hell you ain't," said Joad. "That big old nose of 
yours been stickin' out eight miles ahead of your face. You 
had that big nose goin' over me like a sheep in a vegetable 
patch." 

The driver's face tightened. "You got me all \vrony-" he 
began weakly. 

Joad laughed at him. "You been a good guy. You give me 
a lift. Well, hell! I done time. So what! You want to know 
what I done time for, don't you?" 

"That ain't none of my affair." 

"Nothin' ain't none of your affair except skinnin 7 this here 
bull-bitch along, an' that's the least thing you work at. Now 
look. See that road up ahead?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, I get off there. Sure, I know you're wettin' your 
pants to know what I done. I ain't a guy to let you down." 
The high hum of the motor dulled and the song of the tires 
dropped in pitch. Joad got out his pint and took another 
short drink. The truck drifted to a stop where a dirt road 
opened at right angles to the highway. Joad got out and stood 
beside the cab window. The vertical exhaust pipe puttered 
up its barely visible blue smoke. Joad leaned toward the 
driver. "Homicide," he said quickly. "That's a big word 



The Grapes of Wrath 10 

means I killed a guy. Seven years. I'm sprung in four for 
keepin' my nose clean." 

The driver's eyes slipped over Joad's face to memorize it. 
"I never asked you nothin' about it/' he said. "I mind my 
own yard." 

"You can tell about it in every joint from here to Texola." 
He smiled. "So long, fella. You been a good guy. But look, 
when you been in stir a little while, you can smell a question 
comin' from hell to breakfast. You telegraphed yours the 
first time you opened your trap." He spatted the metal door 
with the palm of his hand. "Thanks for the lift," he said. "So 
long." He turned away and walked into the dirt road. 

For a moment the driver stared after him, and then he 
called, "Luck!" Joad \\a\cd his hand without looking 
around. Then the motor roared up and the gears clicked and 
the great red truck rolled heavily away. 



Chapter Three 



THE concrete highway was edged with a mat of 
tangled, broken, dry grass, and the grass heads were 
heavy with oat beards to catch on a dog's coat, and 
foxtails to tangle in a horse's fetlocks, and clover burrs to 
fasten in sheep's wool; sleeping life waiting to be spread and 
dispersed, every seed armed with an appliance of dispersal, 
twisting darts and parachutes for the wind, little spears and 
balls of tiny thorns, and all waiting for animals and for the 
wind, for a man's trouser cuff or the hem of a woman's skirt, 
all passive but armed with appliances of activity, still, but 
each possessed of the anlage of movement. 

The sun lay on the grass and warmed it, and in the shade 
under the grass the insects moved, ants and ant lions to set 
traps for them, grasshoppers to jump into the air and flick 
their yellow wings for a second, sow bugs like little arma- 
dillos, plodding restlessly on many tender feet. And over the 
grass at the roadside a land turtle crawled, turning aside for 
nothing, dragging his high-domed shell over the grass. His 
hard legs and yellow-nailed feet threshed slowly through the 
grass, not really walking, but boosting and dragging his shell 
along. The barley beards slid off his shell, and the clover 
burrs fell on him and rolled to the ground. His horny beak 
was partly open, and his fierce, humorous eyes, under brows 
like fingernails, stared straight ahead. I Ic came over the grass 
leaving a beaten trail behind him, and the hill, which was the 



The Grapes of Wrath 2 1 

highway embankment, reared up ahead of him. For a mo- 
ment he stopped, his head held high. He blinked and looked 
up and down. At last he started to climb the embankment. 
Front clawed feet reached forward but did not touch. The 
hind feet kicked his shell along, and it scraped on the grass, 
and on the gravel. As the embankment grew steeper and 
steeper, the more frantic were the efforts of the land turtle. 
Pushing hind legs strained and slipped, boosting the shell 
along, and the horny head protruded as far as the neck could 
stretch. Little by little the shell slid up the embankment until 
at last a parapet cut straight across its line of march, the 
shoulder of the road, a concrete wall four inches high. As 
though they worked independently the hind legs pushed the 
shell against the wall. The head upraised and peered over the 
wall to the broad smooth plain of cement. Now the hands, 
braced on top of the wall, strained and lifted, and the shell 
came slowly up and rested its front end on the wall. For a 
moment the turtle rested. A red ant ran into the shell, iifto 
the soft skin inside the shell, and suddenly head and legs 
snapped in, and the armored tail clamped in sideways. The 
red ant was crushed between body and legs. And one head 
of wild oats was clamped into the shell by a front leg. For a 
long moment the turtle lay still, and then the neck crept out 
and the old humorous frowning eyes looked about and the 
legs and tail came out. The back legs went to work, strain- 
ing like elephant legs, and the shell tipped to an angle so that 
the front legs could not reach the level cement plain. But 
higher and higher the hind legs boosted it, until at last the 
center of balance was reached, the front tipped down, the 
front legs scratched at the pavement, and it was up. But the 
head of wild oats \vas held by its stem around the front legs. 
Now the going was easy, and all the legs worked, and the 



22 The Grapes of Wrath 

shell boosted along, waggling from side to side. A sedan 
driven by a forty-year old woman approached. She saw the 
turtle and swung to the right, off the highway, the wheels 
screamed and a cloud of dust boiled up. Two wheels lifted 
for a moment and then settled. The car skidded back onto 
the road, and went on, but more slowly. The turtle had 
jerked into its shell, but now it hurried on, for the highway 
was burning hot. 

And now a light truck approached, and as it came near, 
the driver saw the turtle and swerved to hit it. His front 
wheel struck the edge of the shell, flipped the turtle like a 
tiddly-wink, spun it like a coin, and rolled it off the high- 
way. The truck went back to its course along the right side. 
Lying on its back, the turtle was tight in its shell for a long 
time. But at last its legs waved in the air, reaching for some- 
thing to pull it over. Its front foot caught a piece of quartz 
and little by little the shell pulled over and flopped upright. 
The wild oat head fell out and three of the spearhead seeds 
stuck in the ground. And as the turtle crawled on down the 
embankment, its shell dragged dirt over the seeds. The 
turtle entered a dust road and jerked itself along, drawing a 
wavy shallow trench in the dust with its shell. The old 
humorous eyes looked ahead, and the horny beak opened a 
little. His yellow toe nails slipped a fraction in the dust. 



Chapter Four 



WHEN Joad heard the truck get under way, gear 
climbing up to gear and the ground throbbing 
under the rubber beating of the tires, he stopped 
and turned about and watched it until it disappeared. When 
it was out of sight he still watched the distance and the blue 
air-shimmer. Thoughtfully he took the pint from his pocket, 
unscrewed the metal cap, and sipped the whisky delicately, 
running his tongue inside the bottle neck, and then around 
his lips, to gather in any flavor that might have escaped him. 
He said experimentally, "There we spied a nigger-" and that 
was all he could remember. At last he turned about and faced 
the dusty side road that cut off at right angles through the 
fields. The sun was hot, and no wind stirred the sifted dust. 
The road was cut with furrows where dust had slid and 
settled back into the wheel tracks. Joad took a few steps, and 
the flourlike dust spurted up in front of his new yellow 
shoes, and the yellowness was disappearing under gray dust. 
He leaned down and untied the laces, slipped off first one 
shoe and then the other. And he worked his damp feet com- 
fortably in the hot dry dust until little spurts of it came up 
between his toes, and until the skin on his feet tightened with 
dryness. He took off his coat and wrapped his shoes in it and 
slipped the bundle under his arm. And at last he moved up 
the road, shooting the dust ahead of him, making a cloud that 
hung low to the ground behind him. 

23 



24 The Grapes of Wrath 

The right of way was fenced, two strands of barbed wire 
on willow poles. The poles were crooked and badly trimmed. 
Whenever a crotch came to the proper height the wire lay 
in it, and where there was no crotch the barbed wire was 
lashed to the post with rusty baling wire. Beyond the fence, 
the corn lay beaten down by wind and heat and drought, 
and the cups where leaf joined stalk were filled with dust. 

Joad plodded along, dragging his cloud of dust behind him. 
A little bit ahead he saw the high-domed shell of a land turtle, 
crawling slowly along through the dust, its legs working 
stiffly and jerkily. Joad stopped to watch it, and his shadow 
fell on the turtle. Instantly head and legs were withdrawn 
and the short thick tail clamped sideways into the shell. 
Joad picked it up and turned it over. The back was brown- 
gray, like the dust, but the underside of the shell was creamy 
yellow, clean and smooth. Joad shifted his bundle high under 
his arm and stroked the smooth undcrshell with his finger, 
and he pressed it. It was softer than the back. The hard old 
head came out and tried to look at the pressing finger, and 
the legs waved wildly. The turtle wetted on Joad's hand and 
struggled uselessly in the air. Joad turned it back upright 
and rolled it up in his coat with his shoes. He could feel it 
pressing and struggling and fussing under his arm. He moved 
ahead more quickly now, dragging his heels a little in the 
fine dust. 

Ahead of him, beside the road, a scrawny, dusty willow 
tree cast a speckled shade. Joad could see it ahead of him, its 
poor branches curving over the way, its load of, leaves tat- 
tered and scraggly as a molting chicken. Joad was sweating 
now. His blue shirt darkened down his back and under his 
arms. He pulled at the visor of his cap and creased it in the 
middle, breaking its cardboard lining so completely that it 



The Grapes of Wrath 25 

could never look new again. And his steps took on new speed 
and intent toward the shade of the distant willow tree. 
At the willow he knew there would be shade, at least one 
hard bar of absolute shade thrown by the trunk, since the sun 
had passed its zenith. The sun whipped the back of his neck 
now and made a little humming in his head. He could not see 
the base of the tree, for it grew out of a little swale that held 
water longer than the level places. Joad speeded his pace 
against the sun, and he started down the declivity. He 
slowed cautiously, for the bar of absolute shade was taken. 
A man sat on the ground, leaning against the trunk of the 
tree. His legs were crossed and one bare foot extended nearly 
as high as his head. He did not hear Joad approaching, for he 
was whistling solemnly the tune of "Yes, Sir, That's My 
Baby." His extended foot swung slowly up and down in the 
tempo. It was not dance tempo. He stopped whistling and 
sang in an easy thin tenor: 

"Yes, sir, that's my Saviour, 
Je sus is my Saviour, 
Je sus is my Saviour now. 
On the level 
'S not the devil, 
Jesus is my Saviour now." 

Joad had moved into the imperfect shade of the molting 
leaves before the man heard him coming, stopped his song, 
and turned his head. It was a long head, bony, tight of skin, 
and set on a neck as stringy and muscular as a celery stalk. 
His eyeballs were heavy and protruding; the lids stretched 
to cover them, and the lids were raw and red. His cheeks 
were brown and shiny and hairless and his mouth full- 
humorous or sensual. The nose, beaked and hard, stretched 



26 The Grapes of Wrath 

the skin so tightly that the bridge showed white. There 
was no perspiration on the face, not even on the tall pale 
forehead. It was an abnormally high forehead, lined with 
delicate blue veins at the temples. Fully half of the face 
was above the eyes. His stiff gray hair was mussed back from 
his brow as though he had combed it back with his fingers. 
For clothes he wore overalls and a blue shirt. A denim coat 
with brass buttons and a spotted brown hat creased like a 
pork pie lay on the ground beside him. Canvas sneakers, gray 
with dust, lay near by where they had fallen when they were 
kicked off. 

The man looked long at Joad. The light seemed to go far 
into his brown eyes, and it picked out little golden specks 
deep in the irises. The strained bundle of neck muscles stood 
out. 

Joad stood still in the speckled shade. He took off his cap 
and mopped his wet face with it and dropped it and his rolled 
coat on the ground. 

The man in the absolute shade uncrossed his legs and dug 
with his toes at the earth. 

Joad said, "Hi. It's hotter'n hell on the road." 

The seated man stared questioningly at him. "Now ain't 
you young Tom Joad ol' Tom's boy?" 

"Yeah," said Joad. "All the way. Coin' home now." 

"You wouldn' remember me, I guess," the man said. He 
smiled and his full lips revealed great horse teeth. "Oh, no, 
you wouldn't remember. You was always too busy pullin' 
little girls' pigtails when I give you the Holy Sperit. You was 
all wropped up in yankin' that pigtail out by the roots. You 
maybe don't recollect, but I do. The two of you come to 
Jesus at once 'cause of that pigtail yankin'. Baptized both of 



The Grapes of Wrath 27 

you in the irrigation ditch at once. Fightin' an' yellin' like a 
couple a cats." 

Joad looked at him with drooped eyes, and then he 
laughed. "Why, you're the preacher. You're the preacher. I 
jus' passed a recollection about you to a guy not an hour 
ago." 

"I was a preacher," said the man seriously. "Reverend Jim 
Casy was a Burning Busher. Used to howl out the name of 
Jesus to glory. And used to get an irrigation ditch so squirm- 
in' full of repented sinners half of 'em like to drownded. 
But not no more," he sighed. "Just Jim Casy now. Ain't got 
the call no more. Got a lot of sinful idears but they seem 
kinda sensible." 

Joad said, "You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' 
about stuff. Sure I remember you. You use ta give a good 
meetin'. I recollect one time you give a whole sermon 
walkin' around on your hands, yellin' your head off. Ma 
favored you more than anybody. An' Granma says you was 
just lousy with the spirit." Joad dug at his rolled coat and 
found the pocket and brought out his pint. The turtle moved 
a leg but he wrapped it up tightly. He unscrewed the cap and 
held out the bottle. "Have a little snort?" 

Casy took the bottle and regarded it broodingly. "I ain't 
preachin' no more much. The sperit ain't in the people much 
no more; and worse'n that, the sperit ain't in me no more. 
'Course now an' again the sperit gets movin' an' I rip out a 
meetin', or when folks sets out food I give 'em a grace, but 
my heart ain't in it. I on'y do it 'cause they expect it." 

Joad mopped his face with his cap again. "You ain't too 
damn holy to take a drink, are you?" he asked. 

Casy seemed to see the bottle for the first time. He tilted 



2 8 The Grapes of Wrath 

it and took three big swallows. "Nice drinkin' liquor," he 

said. 

"Ought to be," said Joad. "That's fact'ry liquor. Cost a 
buck." 

Casy took another swallow before he passed the bottle 
back. "Yes, sir!" he said. "Yes, sir!" 

Joad took the bottle from him, and in politeness did not 
wipe the neck with his sleeve before he drank. He squatted 
on his hams and set the bottle upright against his coat roll. 
His fingers found a twig with which to draw his thoughts 
on the ground. He swept the leaves from a square and 
smoothed the dust. And he drew angles and made little cir- 
cles. "I ain't seen you in a long time," he said. 

"Nobody seen me," said the preacher. "I went off alone, 
an' I sat and figured. The sperit's strong in me, on'y it ain't 
the same. I ain't so sure of a lot of things." He sat up 
straighter against the tree. His bony hand dug its way like a 
squirrel into his overall pocket, brought out a black, bitten 
plug of tobacco. Carefully he brushed off bits of straw and 
gray pocket fuzz before he bit off a corner and settled the 
quid into his cheek. Joad waved his stick in negation when 
the plug was held out to him. The turtle dug at the rolled 
coat. Casy looked over at the stirring garment. "What you 
got there a chicken? You'll smother it." 

Joad rolled the coat up more tightly. "An old turtle," he 
said. "Picked him up on the road. An old bulldozer. Thought 
I'd take 'im to my little brother. Kids like turtles." 

The preacher nodded his head slowly. "Every kid got a 
turtle some time or other. Nobody can't keep a turtle though. 
They work at it and work at it, and at last one day they get 
out and away they go off somewheres. It's like me. I 
wouldn' take the good oP gospel that was just layin* there 



The Grapes of Wrath 29 

to my hand. I got to be pickin' at it an* workin' at it until I 
got it all tore down. Here I got the sperit sometimes an' 
nothin' to preach about. I got the call to lead the people, an' 
no place to lead 'em." 

"Lead 'em around and around," said Joad. "Sling 'em in 
the irrigation ditch. Tell 'em they'll burn in hell if they don't 
think like you. What the hell you want to lead 'em some- 
place for? Jus' lead 'em." The straight trunk shade had 
stretched out along the ground. Joad moved gratefully into 
it and squatted on his hams and made a new smooth place on 
which to draw his thoughts with a stick. A thick-furred yel- 
low shepherd dog came trotting down the road, head low, 
tongue lolling and dripping. Its tail hung limply curled, and 
it panted loudly. Joad whistled at it, but it only dropped its 
head an inch and trotted fast toward some definite destina- 
tion. "Coin* someplace," Joad explained, a little piqued. 
"Coin' for home maybe." 

The preacher could not be thrown from his subject. 
"Coin' someplace," he repeated. "That's right, he's goin' 
someplace. Me I don't know where I'm goin'. Tell you 
what I use ta get the people jumpin' an' talkin' in tongues, 
an' glory-shoutin' till they just fell down an' passed out. An' 
some I'd baptize to bring 'em to. An' then you know what 
I'd do? I'd take one of them girls out in the grass, an' I'd lay 
with her. Done it ever' time. Then I'd feel bad, an' I'd pray 
an' pray, but it didn't do no good. Come the nex' time, them 
an' me was full of the sperit, I'd do it again. I figgered there 
just wasn't no hope for me, an' I was a damned ol' hypocrite. 
But I didn't mean to be." 

Joad smiled and his long teeth parted and he licked his 
lips. "There ain't nothing like a good hot meetin' for pushin' 
'em over," he said. "I done that myself." 



30 The Grapes of Wrath 

Casy leaned forward excitedly. "You see," he cried, "I 
seen it was that way, an' I started thinkinV He waved his 
bony big-knuckled hand up and down in a patting gesture. 
"I got to thinkin' like this 'Here's me preachin' grace. An' 
here's them people gettin' grace so hard they're junipin' an' 
shoutin'. Now they say lay in* up with a girl comes from the 
devil. But the more grace a girl got in her, the quicker she 
wants to go out in the grass.' An' I got to thinkin' how in 
hell, s'cuse me, how can the devil get in when a girl is so full 
of the Holy Sperit that it's spoutin' out of her nose an' cars. 
You'd think that'd be one time when the devil didn't stand a 
snowball's chance in hell. But there it was." His eyes were 
shining with excitement. He worked his cheeks for a mo- 
ment and then spat into the dust, and the gob of spit rolled 
over and over, picking up dust until it looked like a round 
dry little pellet. The preacher spread out his hand and looked 
at his palm as though he were reading a book. "An' there's 
me," he went on softly. "There's me with all them people's 
souls in my han' responsible an' f eelin' my responsibility an' 
ever* time, I lay with one of them girls." He looked over at 
Joad and his face looked helpless. His expression asked for 
help. 

Joad carefully drew the torso of a woman in the dirt, 
breasts, hips, pelvis. "I wasn't never a preacher," he said. "I 
never let nothin' get by when I could catch it. An' I never 
had no idears about it except I was goddamn glad when I 
got one." 

"But you wasn't a preacher," Casy insisted. "A girl was 
just a girl to you. They wasn't nothin' to you. But to me 
they was holy vessels. I was savin' their souls. An' here with 
all that responsibility on me I'd just get 'em frothin' with the 
Holy Sperit, an' then I'd take 'em out in the grass." 



The Grapes of Wrath 31 

"Maybe I should of been a preacher," said Joad. He 
brought out his tobacco and papers and rolled a cigarette. He 
lighted it and squinted through the smoke at the preacher. "I 
been a long time without a girl," he said. "It's gonna take 
some catchin' up." 

Casy continued, "It worried me till I couldn't get no sleep. 
Here I'd go to preachin' and I'd say, 'By God, this time I 
ain't gonna do it.' And right while I said it, I knowed I was." 

"You should a got a wife," said Joad. "Preacher an' his 
wife stayed at our place one time. Jehovites they was. Slep' 
upstairs. Held mectin's in our barnyard. Us kids would listen. 
That preacher's missus took a godawful poundin' after ever* 
night meetin'." 

"I'm glad you tol' me," said Casy. "I use to think it was 
jus' me. Finally it give me such pain I quit an' went off by 
myself an' give her a damn good thinkin' about." He doubled 
up his legs and scratched between his dry dusty toes. "I says 
to myself, 'What's gnawin' you? Is it the screwin'?' An' I 
says, 'No, it's the sin.' An' I says, 'Why is it that when a fella 
ought to be just about mule-ass proof against sin, an' all full 
up of Jesus, why is it that's the time a fella gets fingerin' his 
pants buttons?' " He laid two fingers down in his palm in 
rhythm, as though he gently placed each word there side by 
side. "I says, 'Maybe it ain't a sin. Maybe it's just the way 
folks is. Maybe we been whippin' the hell out of ourselves 
for nothinV An' I thought how some sisters took to beatin' 
theirselves with a three-foot shag of bobwire. An' I thought 
how maybe they liked to hurt themselves, an' maybe I liked 
to hurt myself. Well, I was layin' under a tree when I figured 
that out, and I went to sleep. And it come night, an' it was 
dark when I come to. They was a coyote squawkin' near by. 
Before I knowed it, I was sayin' out loud, 'The hell with it! 



32 The Grapes of Wrath 

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. And some of the 

things folks do is nice, and some ain't nice, but that's as far 

as any man got a right to say.' " He paused and looked up 

from the palm of his hand, where he had laid down the 

words. 

Joad was grinning at him, but Joad's eyes were sharp and 
interested, too. "You give her a goin'-over," he said. "You 
figured her out." 

Casy spoke again, and his voice rang with pain and con- 
fusion. "I says, 'What's this call, this sperit?' An' I says, 
'It's love. I love people so much I'm fit to bust, sometimes.' 
An' I says, 'Don't you love Jesus?' Well, I thought an' 
thought, an' finally I says, 'No, I don't know nobody name' 
Jesus. I know a bunch of stories, but I only love people. An' 
sometimes I love 'em fit to bust, an' I want to make 'em 
happy, so I been preachin' somepin I thought would make 
'em happy.' An' then I been talkin' a hell of a lot. Maybe 
you wonder about me using bad words. Well, they ain't bad 
to me no more. They're jus' words folks use, an' they don't 
mean nothing bad with 'em. Anyways, I'll tell you one more 
thing I thought out; an' from a preacher it's the most unre- 
ligious thing, and I can't be a preacher no more because I 
thought it an' I believe it." 

"What's that?" Joad asked. 

Casy looked shyly at him. "If it hits you wrong, don't take 
no offense at it, will you?" 

"I don't take no offense 'cept a bust in the nose," said Joad. 
"What did you figger?" 

"I figgered about the Holy Sperit and the Jesus road. I 
figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus? 
Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love; 



The Grapes of Wrath 33 

maybe that's the Holy Spent the human sperit the whole 
shebang. Maybe all men got one big soul everybody's a part 
of.' Now I sat there thinkin' it, an* all of a suddent I knew 
it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know 
it." 

Joad's eyes dropped to the ground, as though he could not 
meet the naked honesty in the preacher's eyes. "You can't 
hold no church with idears like that," he said. "People would 
drive you out of the country with idears like that. Jumpin' 
an' yellin'. That's what folks like. Makes 'em feel swell. 
When Granma got to talkin' in tongues, you couldn't tie her 
down. She could knock over a full-growed deacon with her 
fist." 

Casy regarded him broodingly. "Somepin I like to ast 
you," he said. "Somepin that been eatin' on me." 

"Go ahead. I'll talk, sometimes." 

"Well" the preacher said slowly "here's you that I bap- 
tized right when I was in the glory roof-tree. Got little 
hunks of Jesus jumpin' outa my mouth that day. You won't 
remember 'cause you was busy pullin' that pigtail." 

"I remember," said Joad, "That was Susy Little. She bust 
my finger a year later." 

"Well did you take any good outa that baptizin'? Was 
your ways better?" 

Joad thought about it. "No-o-o, can't say as I felt any- 
thing." 

"Well did you take any bad from it? Think hard." 

Joad picked up the bottle and took a swig. "They wasn't 
nothing in it, good or bad. I just had fun." He handed the 
flask to the preacher. 

He sighed and drank and looked at the low level of the 
whisky and took another tiny drink. "That's good," he said. 



34 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I got to worryin' about whether in messin' around maybe I 

done somebody a hurt." 

Joad looked over toward his coat and saw the turtle, free 
of the cloth and hurrying away in the direction he had been 
following when Joad found him. Joad watched him for a 
moment and then got slowly to his feet and retrieved him 
and wrapped him in the coat again. "I ain't got no present 
for the kids," he said. "Nothin' but this ol' turtle." 

"It's a funny thing," the preacher said. "I was thinkin' 
about ol' Tom Joad when you come along. Thinkin' I'd 
call in on him. I used to think he was a godless man. How is 
Tom?" 

"I don' know how he is. I ain't been home in four years." 

"Didn't he write to you?" 

Joad was embarrassed. "Well, Pa wasn't no hand to write 
for pretty, or to write for writin'. He'd sign up his name as 
nice as anybody, an' lick his pencil. But Pa never did write 
no letters. He always says what he couldn' tell a fella with 
his mouth wasn't worth leanin' on no pencil about." 

"Been out travelin' around?" Casy asked. 

Joad regarded him suspiciously. "Didn' you hear about 
me? I was in all the papers," 

"No I never. What?" He jerked one leg over the other 
and settled lower against the tree. The afternoon was ad- 
vancing rapidly, and a richer tone was growing on the sun. 

Joad said pleasantly, "Might's well tell you now an' get 
it over with. But if you was still preachin' I wouldn't tell, 
fear you get prayin' over me." He drained the last of the 
pint and flung it from him, and the flat brown bottle skidded 
lightly over the dust. "I been in McAlester them four years." 

Casy swung around to him, and his brows lowered so that 
his tall forehead seemed even taller. "Ain't wantin' to talk 



The Grapes of Wrath 35 

about it, huh? I won't ask you no questions, if you done 
something bad " 

"I'd do what I done again," said Joad. "I killed a guy in 
a fight. We was drunk at a dance. He got a knife in me, an' 
I killed him with a shovel that was layin' there. Knocked his 
head plumb to squash." 

Casy's eyebrows resumed their normal level. "You ain't 
ashamed of nothin' then?" 

"No," said Joad, "I ain't. I got seven years, account of he 
had a knife in me. Got out in four parole." 

"Then you ain't heard nothin' about your folks for four 
years?" 

"Oh, I heard. Ma sent me a card two years ago, an' las' 
Christmus Granma 'sent a card. Jesus, the guys in the cell 
block laughed! Had a tree an' shiny stuff looks like snow. 
It says in po'try: 

" 'Merry Christmus, purty child, 
Jesus meek an 7 Jesus mild, 
Underneath the Christmus tree 
There's a gif' for you from me.' 

I guess Granma never read it. Prob'ly got it from a drummer 
an' picked out the one with the mos' shiny stuff on it. The 
guys in my cell block goddamn near died laughin'. Jesus 
Meek they called me after that. Granma never meant it 
funny; she jus' figgered it was so purty she wouldn' bother 
to read it. She lost her glasses the year I went up. Maybe she 
never did find 'em." 

"How they treat you in McAlester?" Casy asked. 

"Oh, awright. You eat regular, an' get clean clothes, and 
there's places to take a bath. It's pretty nice some ways. 
Makes it hard not havin' no women." Suddenly he laughed. 



36 The Grapes of Wrath 

"They was a guy paroled," he said. " 'Bout a month he's 
back for breakin' parole. A guy ast him why he bust his 
parole. 'Well, hell,' he says. 'They got no" conveniences at 
my old man's place. Got no 'lectric lights, got no shower 
baths. There ain't no books, an' the food's lousy.' Says he 
come back where they got a few conveniences an' he eats 
regular. He says it makes him feel lonesome out there in the 
open havin' to think what to do next. So he stole a car an' 
come back." Joad got out his tobacco and blew a brown 
paper free of the pack and rolled a cigarette. "The guy's 
right, too," he said. "Las' night, thinkin' where I'm gonna 
sleep, I got scared. An' I got thinkin' about my bunk, an' I 
wonder what the stir-bug I got for a cell mate is doin'. Me 
an' some guys had a strang band goin'. Good one. Guy said 
we ought to go on the radio. An' this mornin' I didn' know 
what time to get up. Jus' laid there waitin' for the bell to 
go off." 

Casy chuckled. "Fella can get so he misses the noise of a 
saw mill." 

The yellowing, dusty, afternoon light put a golden color 
on the land. The cornstalks looked golden. A flight of swal- 
lows swooped overhead toward some waterhole. The turtle 
in Joad's coat began a new campaign of escape. Joad creased 
the visor of his cap. It was getting the long protruding curve 
of a crow's beak now. "Guess I'll mosey along," he said. "I 
hate to hit the sun, but it ain't so bad now." 

Casy pulled himself together. "I ain't seen ol' Tom in a 
bug's age," he said. "I was gonna look in on him anyways. I 
brang Jesus to your folks for a long time, an' I never took 
up a collection nor nothin' but a bite to eat." 

"Come along," said Joad. "Pa'll be glad to see you. He 
always said you got too long a pecker for a preacher." He 



The Grapes of Wrath 37 

picked up his coat roll and tightened it snugly about his shoes 
and turtle. 

Casy gathered in his canvas sneakers and shoved his bare 
feet into them. "I ain't got your confidence, 1 * he said. "I'm 
always scared there's wire or glass under the dust. I don't 
know nothin' I hate so much as a cut toe." 

They hesitated on the edge of the shade and then they 
plunged into the yellow sunlight like two swimmers hasten- 
ing to get to shore. After a few fast steps they slowed to a 
gentle, thoughtful pace. The cornstalks threw gray shadows 
sideways now, and the raw smell of hot dust was in the air. 
The corn field ended and dark green cotton took its place, 
dark green leaves through a film of dust, and the bolls form- 
ing. It was spotty cotton, thick in the low places where 
water had stood, and bare on the high places. The plants 
strove against the sun. And distance, toward the horizon, was 
tan to invisibility. The dust road stretched out ahead of 
them, waving up an d down. The willows of a stream lined 
across the west, and to the northwest a fallow section was 
going back to sparse brush. But the smell of burned dust was 
in the air, and the air was dry, so that mucus in the nose dried 
to a crust, and the eyes watered to keep the eyeballs from 
drying out. 

Casy said, "See how good the corn come along until the 
dust got up. Been a dinger of a crop." 

"Ever' year," said Joad. "Ever' year I can remember, we 
had a good crop comin', an' it never come. Grampa says she 
was good the first five plowin's, while the wild grass was still 
in her." The road dropped down a little hill and climbed up 
another rolling hill. 

Casy said, "OP Tom's house can't be more'n a mile from 
here. Ain't she over that third rise?" 



38 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Sure," said Joad. " 'Less somebody stole it, like Pa stole 



it." 



"Your pa stole it?" 

"Sure, got it a mile an' a half east of here an' drug it. Was 
a family livin' there, an 7 they moved away. Grampa an' Pa 
an' my brother Noah like to took the whole house, but she 
wouldn' come. They only got part of her. That's why she 
looks so funny on one end. They cut her in two an' drug 
her over with twelve head of horses and two mules. They 
was goin' back for the other half an' stick her together again, 
but before they got there Wink Manley come with his boys 
and stole the other half. Pa an' Grampa was pretty sore, but 
a little later them an' Wink got drunk together an' laughed 
their heads off about it. Wink, he says his house is at stud, 
an' if we'll bring our'n over an' breed 'em we'll maybe get 
a litter of crap houses. Wink was a great ol' fella when he 
was drunk. After that him an' Pa an' Grampa was friends. 
Got drunk together ever' chance they got." 

"Tom's a great one," Casy agreed. They plodded dustily 
on down to the bottom of the draw, and then slowed their 
steps for the rise. Casy wiped his forehead with his sleeve 
and put on his flat-topped hat again. "Yes," he repeated, 
"Tom was a great one. For a godless man he was a great one. 
I seen him in meetin' sometimes when the sperit got into 
him just a little, an' I seen him take ten-twelve foot jumps. 
I tell you when ol' Tom got a dose of the Holy Sperit you 
got to move fast to keep from gettin' run down an' tromped. 
Jumpy as a stud horse in a box stall." 

They topped the next rise and the road dropped into an 
old water-cut, ugly and raw, a ragged course, and freshet 
scars cutting into it from both sides. A few stones were in 



The Grapes of Wrath 39 

the crossing. Joad minced across in his bare feet. "You talk 
about Pa," he said. "Maybe you never seen Uncle John the 
time they baptized him over to Folk's place. Why, he got to 
plungin' an' jumpin'. Jumped over a feeny bush as big as a 
piana. Over he'd jump, an' back he'd jump, howlin' like a 
dog-wolf in moon time. Well, Pa seen him, an' Pa, he figgers 
he's the bes' Jesus- jumper in these parts. So Pa picks out a 
feeny bush 'bout twicet as big as Uncle John's feeny 
bush, and Pa lets out a squawk like a sow litterin' broken 
bottles, an' he takes a run at that feeny bush an' clears her 
an' bust his right leg. That took the sperit out of Pa. 
Preacher wants to pray it set, but Pa says, no, by God, he'd 
got his heart full of havin' a doctor. Well, they wasn't a 
doctor, but they was a travelin' dentist, an' he set her. 
Preacher give her a prayin' over anyways." 

They plodded up the little rise on the other side of the 
water-cut. Now that the sun was on the wane some of its im- 
pact was gone, and while the air was hot, the hammering rays 
were weaker. The strung wire on crooked poles still edged 
the road. On the right-hand side a line of wire fence strung 
out across the cotton field, and the dusty green cotton was 
the same on both sides, dusty and dry and dark green. 

Joad pointed to the boundary fence. "That there's our 
line. We didn't really need no fence there, but we had the 
wire, an' Pa kinda liked her there. Said it give him a feelin' 
that forty was forty. Wouldn't of had the fence if Uncle 
John didn' come drivin' in one night with six spools of wire 
in his wagon. He give 'em to Pa for a shoat. We never did 
know where he got that wire." They slowed for the rise, 
moving their feet in the deep soft dust, feeling the earth with 
their feet. Joad's eyes were inward on his memory. He 



40 The Grapes of Wrath 

seemed to be laughing inside himself. "Uncle John was a 
crazy bastard," he said. "Like what he done with that shoat." 
He chuckled and walked on. 

Jim Casy waited impatiently. The story did not continue. 
Casy gave it a good long time to come out. "Well, what'd 
he do with that shoat?" he demanded at last, with some irri- 
tation. 

"Huh? Oh! Well, he killed that shoat right there, an' he 
got Ma to light up the stove. He cut out pork chops an' put 
'em in the pan, an' he put ribs an' a leg in the oven. He et 
chops till the ribs was done, an' he et ribs till the leg was 
done. An' then he tore into that leg. Cut off big hunks of 
her an' shoved 'em in his mouth. Us kids hung around 
slaverin', an' he give us some, but he wouldn' give Pa none. 
By an' by he et so much he throwed up an' went to sleep. 
While he's asleep us kids an' Pa finished off the leg. Well, 
when Uncle John woke up in the mornin' he slaps another 
leg in the oven. Pa says, 'John, you gonna eat that whole 
damn pig?' An' ne says, fc l aim to, Tom, but I'm scairt some 
of her'll spoil 'fore I get her et, hungry as I am for pork. 
Maybe you better get a plate an' gimme back a couple rolls 
of wire.' Well, sir, Pa wasn't no fool. He jus' let Uncle John 
go on an' eat himself sick of pig, an 1 when he drove off he 
hadn't et much more'n half. Pa says, 'Whyn't you salt her 
down?' But not Uncle John; when he wants pig he wants a 
whole pig, an' when he's through, he don't want no pig 
hangin' around. So off he goes, and Pa salts down what's 
left." 

Casy said, "While I was still in the preachin' sperit I'd a 
made a lesson of that an' spoke it to you, but I don't do that 
no more. What you s'pose he done a thing like that for?" 

"I dunno," said Joad. "He jus' got hungry for pork. 



The Grapes of Wrath 41 

Makes me hungry jus' to think of it. I had jus' four slices of 
roastin' pork in four years one slice ever' Christmus." 

Casy suggested elaborately, "Maybe Tom'll kill the fatted 
calf like for the prodigal in Scripture." 

Joad laughed scornfully. "You don't know Pa. If he kills 
a chicken most of the squawkin' will come from Pa, not the 
chicken. He don't never learn. He's always savin' a pig for 
Christmus and then it dies in September of bloat or somepin 
so you can't eat it. When Uncle John wanted pork he et 
pork. He had her." 

They moved over the curving top of the hill and saw the 
Joad place below them. And Joad stopped. "It ain't the 
same," he said. "Looka that house. Somepin's happened. 
They ain't nobody there." The two stood and stared at the 
little cluster of buildings. 



Chapter Five 



THE owners of the land came onto the land, or more 
often a spokesman for the owners came. They came 
in closed cars, and they felt the dry earth with their 
fingers, and sometimes they drove big earth augers into the 
ground for soil tests. The tenants, from their sun-beaten 
dooryards, watched uneasily when the closed cars drove 
along the fields. And at last the owner men drove into the 
dooryards and sat in their cars to talk out of the windows. 
The tenant men stood beside the cars for a while, and then 
squatted on their hams and found sticks with which to mark 
the dust. 

In the open doors the women stood looking out, and be- 
hind them the children corn-headed children, with wide 
eyes, one bare foot on top of the other bare foot, and the 
toes working. The women and the children watched their 
men talking to the owner men. They were silent. 

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated 
what they had to do, and some of them were angry because 
they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because 
they had long ago found that one could not be an owner 
unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in some- 
thing larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathe- 
matics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some 
worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge 
from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance com- 

42 



The Grapes of Wrath 43 

pany owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank or 
the Companyneedswantsinsistsmust have as though 
the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and 
feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no 
responsibility for the banks or the companies because they 
were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and 
masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a 
little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. 
The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the 
land is poor. You've scrabbled at it long enough, God knows. 

The squatting tenant men nodded and wondered and drew 
figures in the dust, and yes, they knew, God knows. If the 
dust only wouldn't fly. If the top would only stay on the 
soil, it might not be so bad. 

The owner men went on leading to their point: You know 
the land's getting poorer. You know what cotton does to the 
land; robs it, sucks all the blood out of it. 

The squatters nodded they knew, God knew. If they 
could only rotate the crops they might pump blood back 
into the land. 

Well, it's too late. And the owner men explained the work- 
ings and the thinkings of the monster that was stronger than 
they were. A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay 
taxes; he can do that. 

Yes, he can do that until his crops fail one day and he has 
to borrow money from the bank. 

But you see, a bank or a company can't do that, because 
those creatures don't breathe air, don't eat side-meat. They 
breathe profits; they eat the interest on money. If they don't 
get it, they die the way you die without air, without side- 
meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so. It is just so. 

The squatting men raised their eyes 10 understand. Can't 



44 The Grapes of Wrath 

we just hang on? Maybe the next year will be a good year. 
God knows how much cotton next year. And with all the 
wars God knows what price cotton will bring. Don't they 
make explosives out of cotton? And uniforms? Get enough 
wars and cotton'll hit the ceiling. Next year, maybe. They 
looked up questioningly. 

We can't depend on it. The bank the monster has to have 
profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. 
When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one 
size. 

Soft fingers began to tap the sill of the car window, and 
hard fingers tightened on the restless drawing sticks. In the 
doorways of the sun-beaten tenant houses, women sighed 
and then shifted feet so that the one that had been down was 
now on top, and the toes working. Dogs came sniffing near 
the owner cars and wetted on all four tires one after another. 
And chickens lay in the sunny dust and fluffed their feath- 
ers to get the cleansing dust down to the skin. In the little 
sties the pigs grunted inquiringly over the muddy remnants 
of the slops. 

The squatting men looked down again. What do you want 
us to do? We can't take less share of the crop we're half 
starved now. The kids are hungry all the time. We got no 
clothes, torn an' ragged. If all the neighbors weren't the same, 
we'd be ashamed to go to meeting. 

And at last the owner men came to the point. The tenant 
system won't work any more. One man on a tractor can take 
the place of twelve or fourteen families. Pay him a wage 
and take all the crop. We have to do it. We don't like to do 
it. But the monster's sick. Something's happened to the 
monster. 

But you'll kill the land with cotton. 



The Grapes of Wrath 45 

We know. We've got to take cotton quick before the land 
dies. Then we'll sell the land. Lots of families in the East 
would like to own a piece of land. 

The tenant men looked up alarmed. But what'll happen to 
us? How'll we eat? 

You'll have to get off the land. The plows'll go through 
the dooryard. 

And now the squatting men stood up angrily. Grampa 
took up the land, and he had to kill the Indians and drive 
them away. And Pa was born here, and he killed weeds and 
snakes. Then a bad year came and he had to borrow a little 
money. An' we was born here. There in the door our chil- 
dren born here. And Pa had to borrow money. The bank 
owned the land then, but we stayed and we got a little bit 
of what we raised. 

We know that all that. It's not us, it's the bank. A bank 
isn't like a man. Or an owner with fifty thousand acres, he 
isn't like a man either. That's the monster. 

Sure, cried the tenant men, but it's our land. We measured 
it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on 
it, died on it. Even if it's no good, it's still ours. That's what 
makes it ours being born on it, working it, dying on it. That 
makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it. 

We're sorry. It's not us. It's the monster. The bank isn't 
like a man. 

Yes, but the bank is only made of men. 

No, you're wrong there quite wrong there. The bank is 
something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank 
hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank 
is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. 
Men made it, but they can't control it. 

The tenants cried, Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes 



46 The Grapes of Wrath 

for the land. Maybe we can kill banks they're worse than 
Indians and snakes. Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, 
like Pa and (irampa did. 

And now the o\\ ner men grew angry. You'll have to go. 

But it's ours, the tenant men cried. We 

No. 'Hie bank, the monster owns it. You'll have to go. 

We'll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. 
What then 3 

Well first the sheriff, and then the troops. You'll be steal- 
ing if you try to stay, you'll be murderers if you kill to stay. 
The monster isn't men, but it can make men do what it 
w ants. 

But if we go, whcrc'll we go 5 IIow'll we go? We got no 
money. 

We're sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty- 
thousand-acre owner can't be responsible. You're on land 
that isn't yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cot- 
ton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don't you 
go on west to California^ 3 There's work there, and it never 
gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an 
orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. 
Why don't you go there? And the owner men started their 
cars and rolled away. 

The tenant men squatted down on their hams again to 
mark the dust with a stick, to figure, to wonder. Their sun- 
burned faces were dark, and their sun-whipped eyes were 
light. The women moved cautiously out of the doorways 
toward their men, and the children crept behind the women, 
cautiously, ready to run. The bigger boys squatted beside 
their fathers, because that made them men. After a time the 
women asked, What did he want? 

And the men looked up for a second, and the smolder of 



The Grapes of Wrath 47 

pain was in their eyes. We got to get off. A tractor and a 
superintendent. Like factories. 

Where '11 we go 5 the women asked. 

We don't know. We don't know. 

And the women went quickly, quietly back into the 
houses and herded the children ahead of them. They knew 
that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even 
on people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and 
to wonder in the dust. 

After a time perhaps the tenant man looked ahout at the 
pump put in ten years ago, with a goose-neck handle and 
iron flowers on the spout, at the chopping block where a 
thousand chickens had been killed, at the hand plow lying 
in the shed, and the patent crib hanging in the rafters over it. 

The children crowded about the women in the houses. 
What we going to do, Ala 5 Where we going to go? 

The women said, We don't know, yet. Go out and play. 
But don't go near your father. I le might whale you if you go 
near him. And the women went on with the work, but all 
the time they watched the men squatting in the dust per- 
plexed and figuring. 

The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great 
crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength 
of insects. They crawled over the ground, laying the track 
and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering 
while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and 
then settled down to a droning roar. Snub-nosed monsters, 
raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight 
down the country, across the country, through fences, 
through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. 
They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. 



48 The Grapes of Wrath 

They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, 

houses. 

The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; 
gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he 
was a part of the monster, a robot in the scat. The thunder 
of the cylinders sounded through the country, became one 
with the air and the earth, so that earth and air muttered in 
sympathetic vibration. The driver could not control it- 
straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen 
farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could 
swerve the cat', but the driver's hands could not twitch be- 
cause the monster that built the tractor, the monster that sent 
the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver's hands, 
into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him 
goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his percep- 
tion, muzzled his protest. He could not see the land as it was, 
he could not smell the land as it smelled; his feet did not 
stamp the clods or feel the warmth and power of the earth. 
He sat in an iron seat and stepped on iron pedals. He could 
not cheer or beat or curse or encourage the extension of his 
power, and because of this he could not cheer or whip or 
curse or encourage himself. He did not know or own or trust 
or beseech the land. If a seed dropped did not germinate, it 
was nothing. If the young thrusting plant withered in 
drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to 
the driver than to the tractor. 

He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. 
He could admire the tractor its machined surfaces, its surge 
of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not 
his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cut- 
ting the earth with blades not plowing but surgery, pushing 
the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut 



The Grapes of Wrath 49 

it and pushed it to the left; slicing blades shining, polished by 
the cut earth. And pulled behind the disks, the harrows 
combing with iron teeth so that the little clods broke up and 
the earth lay smooth. Behind the harrows, the long seeders 
twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, or- 
gasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without pas- 
sion. The driver sat in his iron scat and he was proud of the 
straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not 
own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And 
when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crum- 
bled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his 
fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the 
growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection 
with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron 
gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no 
prayers or curses. 

At noon the tractor driver stopped sometimes near a ten- 
ant house and opened his lunch: sandwiches wrapped in 
waxed paper, white bread, pickle, cheese, Spam, a piece of 
pie branded like an engine part. He ate without relish. And 
tenants not yet moved away came out to sec him, looked 
curiously while the goggles were taken off, and the rubber 
dust mask, leaving white circles around the eyes and a large 
white circle around nose and mouth. The exhaust of the 
tractor puttered on, for fuel is so cheap it is more efficient 
to leave the engine running than to heat the Diesel nose for 
a new start. Curious children crowded close, ragged children 
who ate their fried dough as they watched. They watched 
hungrily the unwrapping of the sandwiches, and their hun- 
ger-sharpened noses smellcd the pickle, cheese, and Spam. 
They didn't speak to the driver. They watched his hand as 



50 The Grapes of Wrath 

it carried food to his mouth. They did not watch him chew- 
ing; their eyes followed the hand that held the sandwich. 
After a while the tenant who could not leave the place came 
out and squatted in the shade beside the tractor. 

"Why, you're Joe Davis's hoy!' 1 

"Sure," the driver said. 

"Well, what you doing this kind of work for against 
your own people 5 " 

"Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my 
dinner and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to 
eat. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day." 

"That's right," the tenant said. "But for your three dollars 
a day fifteen or twenty families can't cat at all. Nearly a hun- 
dred people have to go out and wander on the roads for your 
three dollars a day. It that right 5 " 

And the driver said, "Can't think of that. Got to think of 
my own kids. Three dollars a day, and it comes every day. 
Times arc changing, mister, don't you know 5 Can't make a 
living on the land unless you've got two, five, ten thousand 
acres -and a tractor. Crop land isn't for little guys like us any 
more. You don't kick up a howl because you can't make 
Fords, or because you're not the telephone company. Well, 
crops arc like that now. Nothing to do about it. You try to 
get three dollars a day someplace. That's the only way." 

The tenant pondered. "Funny thing how it is. If a man 
owns a little property, that property is him, it's part of him, 
and it's like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on 
it and handle it and be sad when it isn't doing well, and feel 
fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some 
way he's bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn't success- 
ful he's big with his property. That is so." 

And the tenant pondered more. "But let a man get prop- 



The Grapes of Wrath 51 

erty he doesn't see, or can't take time to get his fingers in, or 
can't be there to walk on it why, then the property is the 
man. He can't do what he wants, he can't think what he 
wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he 
is small, not big. Only his possessions are big and he's the 
servant of his property. That is so, too." 

The driver munched the branded pie and threw the crust 
away. "Times are changed, don't you know? Thinking about 
stuff like that don't feed the kids. Get your three dollars a 
day, feed your kids. You got no call to worry about any- 
body's kids but your own. You get a reputation for talking 
like that, and you'll never get three dollars a day. Big shots 
won't give you three dollars a day if you worry about any- 
thing but your three dollars a day." 

"Nearly a hundred people on the road for your three 
dollars. Where will we go?" 

"And that reminds me," the driver said, "you better get 
out soon. I'm going through the dooryard after dinner." 

"You filled in the well this morning." 

"I know. Had to keep the line straight. But I'm going 
through the dooryard after dinner. Got to keep the lines 
straight. And well, you know Joe Davis, my old man, so 
I'll tell you this. I got orders wherever there's a family not 
moved out if I have an accident you know, get too close 
and cave the house in a little well, I might get a couple of 
dollars. And my youngest kid never had no shoes yet." 

"I built it with my hands. Straightened old nails to put 
the sheathing on. Rafters are wired to the stringers with bal- 
ing wire. It's mine. I built it. You bump it down I'll be in 
the window with a rifle. You even come too close and I'll 
pot you like a rabbit." 

"It's not me. There's nothing I can do. I'll lose my job if I 



52 The Grapes of Wrath 

don't do it. And look suppose you kill me? They'll just 
hang you, but long before you're hung there'll be another 
guy on the tractor, and he'll bump the house down. You're 
not killing the right guy." 

"That's so," the tenant said. "Who gave you orders? I'll 
go after him. He's the one to kill." 

"You're wrong. He got his orders from the bank. The 
bank told him, 'Clear those people out or it's your job.' " 

"Well, there's a president of the bank. There's a board of 
directors. I'll fill up the magazine of the rifle and go into the 
bank." 

The driver said, "Fellow was telling me the bank gets 
orders from the Ivast. The orders were, 'Make the land show 
profit or we'll close you up.' " 

"Rut where docs it stop* Who can we shoot? I don't aim 
to starve to death before I kill the man that's starving me." 

"I don't know. Maybe there's nobody to shoot. Maybe the 
thing isn't men at all. Maybe, like you said, the property's 
doing it. Anyway I told you my orders." 

"I got to figure," the tenant said. "We all got to figure. 
There's some way to stop this. It's not like lightning or earth- 
quakes. We've got a bad thing made by men, and by God 
that's something we can change." The tenant sat in his door- 
way, and the driver thundered his engine and started off, 
tracks falling and curving, harrows combing, and the phalli 
of the seeder slipping into the ground. Across the dooryard 
the tractor cut, and the hard, foot-beaten ground was seeded 
field, and the tractor cut through again; the uncut space 
was ten feet wide. And back he came. The iron guard bit 
into the house-corner, crumbled the wall, and wrenched the 
little house from its foundation so that it fell sideways, 
crushed like a bug. And the driver was goggled and a rub- 



The Grapes of Wrath 53 

her mask covered his nose and mouth. The tractor cut a 
straight line on, and the air and the ground vibrated with its 
thunder. The tenant man stared after it, his rifle in his hand. 
His wife was beside him, and the quiet children behind. And 
all of them stared after the tractor. 



Chapter Six 



THE Reverend Casy and young Tom stood on the 
hill and looked down on the Joad place. The small 
unpainted house was mashed at one corner, and it 
had been pushed off its foundations so that it slumped at an 
angle, its blind front windows pointing at a spot of sky well 
above the horizon. The fences were gone and the cotton 
grew in the dooryard and up against the house, and the cot- 
ton was about the shed barn. The outhouse lay on its side, 
and the cotton grew close against it. Where the dooryard 
had been pounded hard by the bare feet of children and by 
stamping horses' hooves and by the broad wagon wheels, 
it was cultivated now, and the dark green, dusty cotton 
grew. Young Tom stared for a long time at the ragged wil- 
low beside the dry horse trough, at the concrete base where 
the pump had been. "Jesus!' 7 he said at last. "Hell musta 
popped here. There ain't nobody livin' there." At last he 
moved quickly clown the hill, and Casy followed him. He 
looked into the barn shed, deserted, a little ground straw on 
the floor, and at the mule stall in the corner. And as he looked 
in, there was a skittering on the floor and a family of mice 
faded in under the straw. Joad paused at the entrance to the 
tool-shed leanto, and no tools were there a broken plow 
point, a mess of hay wire in the corner, an iron \vheel from 
a hayrake and a rat-gnawed mule collar, a flat gallon oil can 

54 



i -- - xc * cl1 55 

crusted with dirt and oil, and a pair of torn overalls hang- 
ing on a nail. "There ain't nothin' left," said Joad. u We had 
pretty nice tools. There ain't nothin' left." 

Casy said, "If I was still a preacher I'd say the arm of the 
Lord had struck. But now I don't know what happened. I 
been away. I didn't hear nothin'." They walked toward the 
concrete well-cap, walked through cotton plants to get to 
it, and the bolls were forming on the cotton, and the land 
was cultivated. 

"We never planted here," Joad said. "We always kept this 
clear. Why, you can't get a horse in now without he tromps 
the cotton." They paused at the dry watering trough, and 
the proper weeds that should grow under a trough were 
gone and the old thick wood of the trough was dry and 
cracked. On the well-cap the bolts that had held the pump 
stuck up, their threads ru^ty and the nuts gone. Joad looked 
into the tube of the well and spat and listened. He dropped a 
clod down the well and listened. "She was a good well," he 
said. "I can't hear water." He seemed reluctant to go to the 
house. He dropped clod after clod down the well. "Maybe 
they're all dead," he said. "But somebody'd a told me. I'd 
a got word some way." 

"Maybe they left a letter or something to tell in the house. 
Would they of knowed you was comin' out?" 

"I don' know," said Joad. "No, I guess not. I didn' know 
myself till a week ago." 

"Le's look in the house. She's all pushed out a shape. Some- 
thing knocked the hell out of her." They walked slowly 
toward the sagging house. Two of the supports of the porch 
roof were pushed out so that the roof flopped down on one 
end. And the house-corner was crushed in. Through a maze 
of splintered wood the room at the corner was visible. The 



56 me urapcs or vvram 

front door hung open inward, and a low strong gate across 

the front door hung outward on leather hinges. 

Joad stopped at the step, a rvvelve-by-twelve timber. 
"Doorstep's here," he said. "But they're goneor Ma's dead." 
He pointed to the low gate across the front door. "If Ma was 
anywheres about, that gate'd be shut an' hooked. That's one 
thing she always done seen that gate was shut." His eyes 
were warm. "Ever since the pig got in over to Jacobs' an' 
et the baby. Milly Jacobs was jus' out in the barn. She come 
in while the pig was still eatin 1 it. Well, Milly Jacobs was in a 
family way, an' she went ravin'. Never did get over it. 
Touched ever since. But Ma took a lesson from it. She never 
lef that pig gate open 'less she was in the house herself. 
Never did forget. No they're gone or dead." He climbed 
to the split porch and looked into the kitchen. The windows 
were broken out, and throwing rocks lay on the floor, and 
the floor and walls sagged steeply away from the door, and 
the sifted dust was on the boards. Joad pointed to the broken 
glass and the rocks. "Kids," he said. "They'll go twenty miles 
to bust a window. I done it myself. They know when a 
house is empty, they know. That's the fust thing kids do 
when folks move out." The kitchen was empty of furniture, 
stove gone and the round stovepipe hole in the wall showing 
light. On the sink shelf lay an old beer opener and a broken 
fork with its wooden handle gone. Joad slipped cautiously 
into the room, and the floor groaned under his weight. An 
old copy of the Philadelphia Ledger was on the floor against 
the wall, its pages yellow and curling. Joad looked into the 
bedroom no bed, no chairs, nothing. On the wall a picture 
of an Indian girl in color, labeled Red Wing. A bed slat lean- 
ing against the wall, and in one corner a woman's high but- 
ton shoe, curled up at the toe and broken over the instep. 



The Grapes of Wrath 57 

Joad picked it up and looked at it. "I remember this," he said. 
"This was Ma's. It's all wore out now. Ma liked them shoes. 
Had 'em for years. No, they've went an' took evcr'thing." 

The sun had lowered until it came through the angled end 
windows now, and it flashed on the edges of the broken 
glass. Joad turned at last and went out and crossed the porch. 
He sat down on the edge of it and rested his bare feet on 
the twelve-by-twelve step. The evening light was on the 
fields, and the cotton plants threw long shadows on the 
ground, and the molting willow tree threw a long shadow. 

Casy sat down beside Joad. "They never wrote you 
nothin'?" he asked. 

"No. Like I said, they wasn't people to write. Pa could 
write, but he wouldn'. Didn't like to. It give him the shivers 
to write. He could w r ork out a catalogue order as good as the 
nex' fella, but he wouldn' write no letters just for ducks." 
They sat side by side, staring off into the distance. Joad laid 
his rolled coat on the porch beside him. His independent 
hands rolled a cigarette, smoothed it and lighted it, and he 
inhaled deeply and blew the smoke out through his nose. 
"Somcpin's wrong," he said. "I can't put my finger on her. 
I got an itch that somepin's wrongcr'n hell. Just this house 
pushed aroun' an' my folks gone." 

Casy said, "Right over there the ditch was, where I done 
the baptizin'. You wasn't mean, but you was tough. Hung 
onto that little girl's pigtail like a bulldog. We baptize' you 
both in the name of the Holy Ghos', and still you hung on. 
OF Tom says, 'Hoi' 'im under water.' So I shove your head 
down till you start to bubblin' before you'd let go a that 
pigtail. You wasn't mean, but you was tough. Sometimes a 
tough kid grows up with a big jolt of the sperit in him." 

A lean gray cat came sneaking out of the barn and crept 



58 The Grapes of Wrath 

through the cotton plants to the end of the porch. It leaped 
silently up to the porch and crept low-belly toward the men. 
It came to a place between and behind the two, and then it 
sat down, and its tail stretched out straight and flat to the 
floor, and the last inch of it flicked. The cat sat and looked off 
into the distance where the men were looking. 

Joad glanced around at it. "By God! Look who's here. 
Somebody stayed." He put out his hand, but the cat leaped 
away out of reach and sat down and licked the pads of its 
lifted paw. Joad looked at it, and his face was pir/zled. "I 
know what's the matter," he cried. "That cat jus' made me 
figger what's wrong." 

"Seems to me there's lots wrong," said Casy. 

"No, it's more'n jus 1 this place. Whyn't that cat jus' move 
in with some neighbors with the Ranees. How come nobody 
ripped some lumber off this house? Ain't been nobody here 
for three-four months, an' nobody's stole no lumber. Nice 
planks on the barn shed, plenty good planks on the house, 
winda frames an' nobody's took 'em. That ain't right. 
That's what was bothcrin' me, an' I couldn't catch hold of 
her." 

"Well, what's that figger out for yoiP" Casy reached 
down and slipped off his sneakers and wriggled his long toes 
on the step. 

"I don' know. Seems like maybe there ain't any neighbors. 
If there was, would all them nice planks be here? Why, Jesus 
Christ! Albert Ranee took his family, kids an' dogs an' all, 
into Oklahoma City one Christmus. They was gonna visit 
with Albert's cousin. Well, folks aroun' here thought Albert 
moved away without sayin' nothin' figgered maybe he got 
debts or some woman's squarin' off at him. When Albert 
come back a week later there wasn't a thing lef ' in his house 



The Grapes of Wrath 59 

stove was gone, beds was gone, winda frames was gone, an' 
eight feet of plankin' was gone off the south side of the house 
so you could look right through her. He conic drivin' home 
just as Aluley Graves was goin' away \\ith the doors an' the 
well pump. Took Albert two weeks drivin' aroun' the neigh- 
bors' 'fore he got his stuff back." 

Casy scratched his toes luxuriously. "Didn't nobody give 
him an argument? All of 'cm jus' give the stuff up?" 

"Sure. They wasn't stealin' it. They thought he Icf it, an' 
they jus' took it. lie got all of it back all but a sofa pilla, 
velvet with a pitcher of an Injun on it. Albert claimed 
Grampa got it. Claimed Grampa got Injun blood, that's why 
he wants that pitcher. Well, Grampa did get her, but he 
didn't give a damn about the pitcher on it. He jus' liked her. 
Used to pack her aroun' an' he'd put her wherever he was 
gonna sit. He never would give her back to Albert. Says, 
'If Albert wants this pilla so bad, let him come an' get her. 
But he better come shootin', 'cause I'll blow his goddamn 
stinkin' head off if he comes mcssin' aroun' my pilla.' So 
finally Albert give up an' made Grampa a present of that 
pilla. It give Grampa idears, though. He took to savin' 
chicken feathers. Says he's gonna have a whole damn bed of 
feathers. But he never got no feather bed. One time Pa got 
mad at a skunk under the house. Pa slapped that skunk with 
a two-by-four, and Ma burned all Grampa's feathers so we 
could live in the house." lie laughed. "Grampa's a tough ol' 
bastard. Jus' set on that Injun pilla an' says, 'Let Albert come 
an' get her. Why,' he says, Til take that squirt and wring 'im 
out like a pair of drawers.' " 

The cat crept close between the men again, and its tail 
lay flat and its whiskers jerked now and then. The sun 
dropped low toward the horizon and the dusty air was red 



60 The Grapes of Wrath 

and golden. The cat reached out a gray questioning paw and 
touched Joad's coat. He looked around. "Hell, I forgot the 
turtle. I ain't gonna pack it all over hell." He unwrapped the 
land turtle and pushed it under the house. But in a moment 
it was out, headed southwest as it had been from the first. 
The cat leaped at it and struck at its straining head and 
slashed at its moving feet. The old, hard, humorous head was 
pulled in, and the thick tail slapped in under the shell, and 
when the cat grew tired of waiting for it and walked off, the 
turtle headed on southwest again. 

Young Tom Joad and the preacher watched the turtle 
go waving its legs and boosting its heavy, high-domed shell 
along toward the southwest. The cat crept along behind for 
a while, but in a dozen yards it arched its back to a strong 
taut bow and yawned, and came stealthily back toward the 
seated men. 

"Where the hell you s'pose he's goin'?" said Joad. "I seen 
turtles all my life. They're always goin' someplace. They 
always seem to want to get there." The gray cat seated itself 
between and behind them again. It blinked slowly. The skin 
over its shoulders jerked forward under a flea, and then 
slipped slowly back. The cat lifted a paw and inspected it, 
flicked its claws out and in again experimentally, and licked 
its pads with a shell-pink tongue. The red sun touched the 
horizon and spread out like a jellyfish, and the sky above it 
seemed much brighter and more alive than it had been. Joad 
unrolled his new yellow shoes from his coat, and he brushed 
his dusty feet with his hand before he slipped them on. 

The preacher, staring off across the fields, said, "Some- 
body's comin'. Look! Down there, right through the cot- 
ton." 

Joad looked where Casy's finger pointed. "Comin 1 afoot," 



The Grapes of Wrath 61 

he said. "Can't see 'im for the dust he raises. Who the hell's 
comin' here?" They watched the figure approaching in the 
evening light, and the dust it raised was reddened by the 
setting sun. "Man," said Joad. The man drew closer, and as 
he walked past the barn, Joad said, "Why, I know him. You 
know him that's Muley Graves." And he called, u llcy, 
Muley! How ya?" 

The approaching man stopped, startled by the call, and 
then he came on quickly. He was a lean man, rather short. 
His movements were jerky and quick. He carried a gunny 
sack in his hand. His blue jeans were pale at knee and seat, 
and he wore an old black suit coat, stained and spotted, the 
sleeves torn loose from the shoulders in back, and ragged 
holes worn through at the elbows. His black hat was as 
stained as his coat, and the band, torn half free, flopped up 
and down as he walked. Muley 's face was smooth and un- 
wrinkled, but it wore the truculent look of a bad child's, the 
mouth held tight and small, the little eyes half scowling, half 
petulant. 

"You remember Muley," Joad said softly to the preacher. 

"Who's that?" the advancing man called. Joad did not 
answer. Muley came close, very close, before he made out 
the faces. "Well, Til be damned," he said. "It's Tommy Joad. 
When'd you get out, Tommy?" 

"Two days ago," said Joad. "Took a little time to hitch- 
hike home. An' look here what I find. Where's my folks, 
Muley? What's the house all smashed up for, an' cotton 
planted in the dooryard?" 

"By God, it's lucky I come by!" said Muley. " 'Cause ol' 
Tom worried himself. When they was fixin' to move I was 
settin' in the kitchen there. I jus 1 tol' Tom I wan't gonna 
move, by God. I tol' him that, an' Tom says, Tm worryin' 



62 The ( i rapes of Wrath 

myself about Tommy. S'pose he comes home an' they ain't 
nobody here. What'll he think?" I says, 'Whyn't you write 
down a letter? 1 An' Tom says, 'Maybe I will. Ill think about 
her. But if I don't, you keep your eye out for Tommy if 
you're still arounV Til be aroun',' I says. Til be aroun' till 
hell freezes over. There ain't nobody can run a guy name of 
Graves outa this country.' An' they ain't done it, neither." 

Joad said impatiently, "Where's my folks? Tell about you 
standin' up to 'em later, but \v here's my folks?" 

"Well, they was gonna stick her out when the bank come 
to tractonn' off the place. Your grampa stood out here with 
a rifle, an' he blowed the headlights off that cat', but she 
come on just the same. Your grampa didn't wanta kill the 
guy dnvin' that cat', an' that was Willy Fceley, an' Willy 
knowed it, so he jus' come on, an' bumped the hell outa the 
house, an' give her a shake like a dog shakes a rat. Well, it 
took somepin outa Tom. Kinda got into 'im. He ain't been 
the same ever since." 

"Where is my folks : " Joad spoke angrily. 

"What I'm tellin' you. Took three trips with your Uncle 
John's wagon. Took the stove an' the pump an' the beds. 
You should a seen them beds go out with all them kids an' 
your granma an' grampa scttin' up against the headboard, 
.in' your brother Noah scttin' there sniokin' a cigareet, an' 
spittin' la-dc-da over the side of the wagon." Joad opened 
his mouth to speak. "They're all at your Uncle John's," 
Muley said quickly. 

"Oh! All at John's. Well, what they doin' there? Now 
stick to her for a second, Muley. Jus' stick to her. In jus' 
a minute you can go on your own way. What they doin' 
there?" 

"Well, they been choppin' cotton, all of 'em, even the 



The drapes of Wrath 6} 

kids an' your grampa. GettiiV money together so they can 
shove on \vcst. Gonna buy a car and shove on west \\ here it's 
easy livin'. There ain't nothin' here. Fifty cents a clean acre 
for choppin' cotton, an 1 folks beggin' for the chance to 
chop/* 

"An' they ain't gone yet?" 

"No," said Mulcy. "Not that I know. Las' I heard was four 
days ago when I seen your brother Noah out shootin' jack- 
rabbits, an' he says they're aimin' to go in about two weeks. 
John got his notice he got to get off. You jus' go on about 
eight miles to John's place. You'll find your folks piled in 
John's house like gophers in a \\inter burrow." 

"O.K." said Joad. "Now you can ride on your own way. 
You ain't changed a bit, Mulcy. If you want to tell about 
somcpin off northwest, you point your nose straight south- 
east." 

Muley said truculently, "You ain't changed neither. You 
was a smart-aleck kid, an' you're still a smart aleck. You 
ain't tellin' me how to skin my life, by any chanced" 

Joad grinned. "No, I ain't. If you wanta drive your head 
into a pile a broken glass, there ain't nobody can tell you 
different. You know this here preacher, don't you, Muley 5 
Rev. Casy." 

"Why, sure, sure. Didn't look over. Remember him well." 
Casy stood up and the two shook hands. "Glad to see you 
again," said Muley. "You ain't been aroun' for a hell of a 
long time." 

"I been off a-askin' questions," said Casy. "What happened 
here? Why they kickin' folks off the lan'>" 

Mulev's mouth snapped shut so tightly that a little parrot's 
beak in the middle of his upper lip stuck down over his under 
lip. He scowled. "Them sons-a-bitches," he said. "Them 



64 The Grapes of Wrath 

dirty sons-a-bitches. I tell ya, men, I'm stay in'. They ain't 
gettin' rid a me. If they throw me off, I'll come back, an' if 
they figger I'll be quiet underground, why, I'll take couple- 
three of the sons-a-bitches along for company." He patted a 
heavy weight in his side coat pocket. "I ain't a-goin'. My pa 
come here fifty years ago. An' I ain't a-goin'." 

Joad said, "What's the idcar of kickin' the folks off?" 

"Oh! They talked pretty about it. You know what kinda 
years we been havin'. Dust cornin' up an' spoilin' ever'thing 
so a man didn't get enough crop to plug up an ant's ass. An' 
cvcr'body got bills at the grocery. You know how it is. Well, 
the folks that owns the Ian' says, 'We can't afford to keep 
no tenants.' An' they says, 'The share a tenant gets is jus' 
the margin a profit we can't afford to lose.' An' they says, 
4 If we put all our Ian' in one piece we can jus' hardly make 
her pay.' So they tractorcd all the tenants off a the Ian'. All 
'cept me, an' by God I ain't goin'. Tommy, you know me. 
You knowed me all your life." 

"Damn right," said Joad, "all my life." 

"Well, you know I ain't a fool. I know this land ain't much 
good. Never was much good 'cept for grazin'. Never should 
a broke her up. An' now she's cottoned damn near to death. 
If on'y they didn' tell me I got to get off, why, I'd prob'y be 
in California right now a-eatin' grapes an' a-pickin' an 
orange when I wanted. But them sons-a-bitches says I got to 
get off an', Jesus Christ, a man can't, when he's toP to!" 

"Sure," said Joad. "I wonder Pa went so easy. I wonder 
Grampa didn' kill nobody. Nobody never toP Grampa 
where to put his feet. An' Ma ain't nobody you can push 
aroun', neither. I seen her beat the hell out of a tin peddler 
with a live chicken one time 'cause he give her a argument. 
She had the chicken in one han', an' the ax in the other, 



The Grapes of Wrath 65 

about to cut its head off. She aimed to go for that peddler 
with the ax, but she forgot which hand was which, an' she 
takes after him with the chicken. Couldn' even eat that 
chicken when she got done. They wasn't nothing but a pair 
a legs in her han'. Grarnpa throwed his hip outa joint 
laughin'. How'd my folks go so easy?" 

"Well, the guy that come aroun' talked nice as pie. 'You 
got to get off. It ain't my fault.' 'Well,' I says, 'whose fault 
is it? I'll go an' I'll nut the fella.' 'It's the Shawnee Lan' an' 
Cattle Company. I jus' got orders.' 'Who's the Shawnee Lan' 
an' Cattle Company?' 'It ain't nobody. It's a company.' Got 
a fella crazy. There wasn't nobody you could lay for. Lot 
a the folks jus' got tired out lookin' for somepin to be mad at 
but not me. I'm mad at all of it. I'm stayin'." 

A large red drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then 
dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the 
spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, 
hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky 
from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land 
from the east. The evening star flashed and glittered in the 
dusk. The gray cat sneaked away toward the open barn shed 
and passed inside like a shadow. 

Joad said, "Well, we ain't gonna walk no eight miles to 
Uncle John's place tonight. My dogs is burned up. How's it 
if we go to your place, Muley? That's on'y about a mile." 

"Won't do no good." Muley seemed embarrassed. "My 
wife an' the kids an' her brother all took an' went to Cali- 
fornia. They wasn't nothin' to eat. They wasn't as mad as 
me, so they went. They wasn't nothin' to eat here." 

The preacher stirred nervously. "You should of went too. 
You shouldn't of broke up the fambly." 



66 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I couklnV' said Muley Graves. "Somepin jus' wouldn' 
let me.'' 

"Well, by God, Fm hungry," said Joad. "Four solemn 
years I been eatin' right on the minute. My guts is yellin' 
bloody murder. What you gonna eat, Mulcy? Mow you 
been gettin' your dinner 5 " 

Muley said ashamedly, "For a while I et frogs an' squirrels 
an' prairie dogs sometimes. Had to do it. But now I got some 
wire nooses on the tracks in the dry stream brush. Get rab- 
bits, an' sometimes a prairie chicken. Skunks get caught, an' 
coons, too." lie reached down, picked up his sack, and emp- 
tied it on the porch. Two cottontails and a jackrabbit fell 
out and rolled over limply, soft and furry. 

"God Awmighty," said Joad, "it's more'n four years sence 
IVc ct fresh-killed meat." 

Casy picked up one of the cottontails and held it in his 
hand. "You sharin' with us, Muley Graves 5 " he asked. 

Mulcy fidgeted in embarrassment. "I ain't got no choice 
in the matter." I Ic stopped on the ungracious sound of his 
words. "That ain't like I mean it. That ain't. I mean" he 
stumbled "what I mean, if a fella's got somcpin to eat an' 
another fella's hungry why, the first fella ain't got no choice. 
I mean, s'pose I pick up my rabbits an' go off somewheres 
an' eat 'cm. Sec?" 

"I sec," said Casy. "I can sec that. Muley sees somepin 
there, Tom. Mulcy 's got a-holt of somepin, an' it's too big 
for him, an' it's too big for me." 

Young Tom rubbed his hands together. "Who got a knife? 
Le's get at these here miserable rodents. Lc's get at 'em." 

Muley reached in his pants pocket and produced a large 
horn-handled pocket knife. Tom Joad took it from him, 



The Grapes of Wrath 67 

opened a blade, and smelled it. He drove the blade again and 
again into the ground and smelled it again, wiped it on his 
trouser leg, and felt the edge with his thumb. 

Muley took a quart bottle of water out of his hip pocket 
and set it on the porch. "Go easy on that there water," he 
said. "That's all there is. This here well's filled in." 

Tom took up a rabbit in his hand. "One of you go get 
some bale wire outa the barn. We'll make a fire with some a 
this broken plank from the house." lie looked at the dead 
rabbit. "There ain't nothin' so easy to get ready as a rabbit," 
he said. He lifted the skin of the back, slit it, put his 
fingers in the hole, and tore the skin off. It slipped off 
like a stocking, slipped off the body to the neck, and off the 
legs to the paws. Joad picked up the knife again and cut off 
head and feet. I le laid the skin down, slit the rabbit along the 
ribs, shook out the intestines onto the skin, and then threw 
the mess off into the cotton field. And the clean-muscled 
little body was ready. Joad cut off the legs and cut the meaty 
back into two pieces. He was picking up the second rabbit 
when Casy came back with a snarl of bale wire in his hand. 
"Now build up a fire and put some stakes up," said Joad. 
"Jesus Christ, I'm hungry for these here creatures!" Fie 
cleaned and cut up the rest of the rabbits and strung them 
on the wire. Muley and Casy tore splintered boards from the 
wrecked house-corner and started a fire, and they drove a 
stake into the ground on each side to hold the wire. 

Muley came back to Joad. "Look out for boils on that 
jackrabbit," he said. "I don't like to eat no jackrabbit with 
boils." He took a little cloth bag from his pocket and put 
it on the porch. 

Joad said, "The jack was clean as a whistle Jesus God, 



68 The Grapes of Wrath 

you got salt too? By any chance you got some plates an' a 
tent in your pocket?" He poured salt in his hand and sprin- 
kled it over the pieces of rabbit strung on the wire. 

The fire leaped and threw shadows on the house, and the 
dry wood crackled and snapped. The sky was almost dark 
now and the stars were out sharply. The gray cat came out 
of the barn shed and trotted miaowing toward the fire, but, 
nearly there, it turned and went directly to one of the little 
piles of rabbit entrails on the ground. It chewed and swal- 
lowed, and the entrails hung from its mouth. 

Casy sat on the ground beside the fire, feeding it broken 
pieces of board, pushing the long boards in as the flame ate 
off their ends. The evening bats flashed into the firelight and 
out again. The cat crouched back and licked its lips and 
washed its face and whiskers. 

Joad held up his rabbit-laden wire between his two hands 
and walked to the fire. "Here, take one end, Muley. Wrap 
your end around that stake. That's good, now! Let's tighten 
her up. We ought to wait till the fire's burned down, but I 
can't wait." He made the wire taut, then found a stick and 
slipped the pieces of meat along the wire until they were 
over the fire. And the flames licked up around the meat and 
hardened and glazed the surfaces. Joad sat down by the fire, 
but with his stick he moved and turned the rabbit so that it 
would not become sealed to the wire. "This here is a party," 
he said. "Salt, Muley's got, an' water an' rabbits. I wish he 
got a pot of hominy in his pocket. That's all I wish." 

Muley said over the fire, "You fellas'd think I'm touched, 
the way I live." 

"Touched, nothin'," said Joad. "If you're touched, I wisht 
ever'body was touched." 

Muley continued, "Well, sir, it's a funny thing. Somepin 



The Grapes of Wrath 69 

went an' happened to me when they toP me I had to get off 
the place. Fust I was gonna go in an 7 kill a whole Hock a 
people. Then all my folks all went away out west. An' I got 
wanderin' aroun'. Jus' walkin' aroun'. Never went far. Slep' 
\vhcre I was. I was gonna sleep here tonight. That's why I 
come. I'd tell myself, Tm lookin' after things so when all the 
folks come back it'll be all right.' But T knowcd that wan't 
true. There ain't nothin' to look after. The folks ain't never 
comin' back. I'm jus' wanderin' aroun' like a damn oP grave- 
yard ghos'." 

"Fella gets use' to a place, it's hard to go," said Casy. "Fella 
gets use' to a way a thinkin', it's hard to leave. I ain't a 
preacher no more, but all the time I find I'm prayin', not 
even thinkin' what I'm doin'." 

Joad turned the pieces of meat over on the wire. The juice 
was dripping now, and every drop, as it fell in the lire, shot 
up a spurt of flame. The smooth surface of the meat was 
crinkling up and turning a faint brown. "Smell her," said 
Joad. "Jesus, look down an' jus' smell her!" 

Muley went on, "Like a damn ol' graveyard ghos'. I been 
goin' aroun' the places where stuff happened. Like there's a 
place over by our forty; in a gully they's a bush. Fust time 
[ ever laid with a girl was there. Me fourteen an' stampin' an' 
lerkin' an' snortin' like a buck deer, randy as a billygoat. 
So I went there an' I laid down on the groun', an' I seen it 
ill happen again. An' there's the place down by the barn 
where Pa got gored to death by a bull. An' his blood is right 
n that groun', right now. Mus' be. Nobody never washed it 
3ut. An' I put my han' on that groun' where my own pa's 
3lood is part of it." He paused uneasily. "You fellas think 
['m touched?" 

Joad turned the meat, and his eyes were inward. Casy, feet 



70 The Grapes of Wrath 

drawn up, stared into the fire. Fifteen feet back from the 
men the fed cat was sitting, the long gray tail wrapped 
neatly around the front feet. A big owl shrieked as it went 
overhead, and the firelight showed its white underside and 
the spread of its wings. 

"No," said Casy. "You're lonely but you ain't touched." 
Muley's tight little face was rigid. "I put my han' right on 
the groun' where that blood is still. An' I seen my pa with a 
hole through his dies', an' I felt him shiver up against me 
like he done, an' 1 seen him kind of settle back an' reach with 
his han's an' his feet. An' I seen his eyes all milky with hurt, 
an' then he was still an' his eyes so clear lookin' up. An' me 
a little kid settin' there, not cryin' nor nothin,' jus' settin' 
there." 1 Ic shook his head sharply. Joad turned the meat 
over and over. "An' I went in the room where Joe was born. 
Bed wasn't there, but it was the room. An* all them things is 
true, an' they're right in the place they happened. Joe come 
to life right there, lie give a big oP gasp an' then he let out 
a squawk you could hear a mile, an' his granma standin' there 
says, 'That's a daisy, that's a daisy,' over an' over. An' her so 
proud she bust three cups that night." 

Joad cleared his throat. "Think we better cat her now." 
"Let her get good an' done, good an' brown, awmost 
black," said Muley irritably. "I wanta talk. I ain't talked to 
nobody. If I'm touched, I'm touched, an' that's the end of it. 
Like a oP graveyard ghos' goin' to neighbors' houses in the 
night. Peters', Jacobs', Ranee's, Joad's; an' the houses all 
dark, standin' like miser'ble ratty boxes, but they was good 
parties an' dancin'. An' there was mcetin's and shoutin' glory. 
They was weddin's, all in them houses. An' then I'd want to 
go in town an' kill folks. 'Cause what'd they take when they 
tractorcd the folks off the Ian'? What'd they get so their 



The Grapes of Wrath 71 

'margin a profit' was safe 11 They got Pa d\ in' on the groun', 
an' Joe ycllin' his first breath, an' me jerkin' like a billy goat 
under a bush in the night. What VI they geP Cod knows the 
Ian' ain't no good. Nobody been able to make a crop for 
years. But them sons-a-bitches at their desks, they jus' 
chopped folks in two for their margin a profit. They jus' 
cut 'em in two. Place where folks live is them folks. They 
ain't whole, out lonely on the road in a pilcd-up car. They 
ain't alive no more. Them sons-a-bitchcs killed 'em." And he 
was silent, his thin lips still moving, his chest still panting. 
He sat and looked down at his hands in the firelight. U I I 
ain't talked to nobody for a long time," he apologized softly. 
"I been sneakin' aroun' like a ol' graveyard ghos'." 

Casy pushed the long boards into the fire and the flames 
licked up around them and leaped up toward the meat again. 
The house cracked loudly as the cooler night air contracted 
the wood. Casy said quietly, "I gotta sec them folks that's 
gone out on the road. I got a feelin' I got to see them. They 
gonna need help no preachin' can give 'em. Hope of heaven 
when their lives ain't lived 5 Holy Spent when their own 
sperit is downcast an' sad' They gonna need help. They got 
to live before they can afford to die." 

Joad cried nervously, "Jesus Christ, le's cat this meat 'fore 
it's smaller'n a cooked mouse! Look at her. Smell her." He 
leaped to his feet and slid the pieces of meat along the wire 
until they were clear of the fire. He took Mulcy's knife and 
sawed through a piece of meat until it was free of the wire. 
"Here's for the preacher," lie said. 

"I tol' you I ain't no preacher." 

"Well, here's for the man, then." He cut off another piece. 
"Here, Mulcy, if you ain't too goddamn upset to cat. This 
here's jackrabbit. Tougher'n a bull-bitch/' He sat back and 



72 The Grapes of Wrath 

clamped his long teeth on the meat and tore out a great bite 
and chewed it. u jcsus Christ! Hear her crunch!" And he 
tore out another bite ravenously. 

Mulcy still sat regarding his meat. "Alaybe I oughtn* to 
a-talked like that," he said. "Fella should maybe keep stuff 
like that in his head." 

Casy looked over, his mouth full of rabbit. He chewed, 
and his muscled throat convulsed in swallowing. "Yes, you 
should talk/' he said. "Sometimes a sad man can talk the sad- 
ness right out through his mouth. Sometimes a killin' man 
can talk the murder right out of his mouth an' not do no 
murder. You done right. Don't you kill nobody if you can 
help it." And he bit out another hunk of rabbit. Joad tossed 
the bones in the fire and jumped up and cut more off the 
wire. Mulcy was eating slowly now, and his nervous little 
eyes went from one to the other of his companions. Joad ate 
scowling like an animal, and a ring of grease formed around 
his mouth. 

For a long time Muley looked at him, almost timidly. He 
put down the hand that held the meat. "Tommy," he said. 

Joad looked up and did not stop gnawing the meat. 
"Yeah?" he said, around a mouthful. 

"Tommy, you ain't mad with me talkin' about killin' 
people? You ain't huffy, Tom?" 

"No," said Tom. "I ain't huffy. It's jus' somepin that 
happened." 

"Ever'body knowed it was no fault of yours," said Muley. 
"OF man Turnbull said he was gonna get you when ya come 
out. Says nobody can kill one a his boys. All the folks here- 
abouts talked him outa it, though." 

"We was drunk," Joad said softly. "Drunk at a dance. I 
don' know how she started. An* then I felt that knife go in 



The Grapes of Wrath 73 

me, an 1 that sobered me up. Fust thing I see is Herb comin' 
for me again with his knife. They was this here shovel Icanin' 
against the schoolhouse, so I grabbed it an' smacked 'im over 
the head. I never had nothing against Herb. He was a nice 
fella. Come a-bullin' after my sister Rosasharn when he was 
a little fella. No, I liked Herb." 

"Well, everybody tol' his pa that, an' finally cooled 'im 
down. Somebody says thcy's I lath* eld blood on his mother's 
side in ol' Turnbull, an' he's got to live up to it. I don't know 
about that. Him an' his folks went on to California six 
months ago." 

Joad took the last of the rabbit from the wire and passed 
it around. He settled back and ate more slowly now, chewed 
evenly, and wiped the grease from his mouth with his sleeve. 
And his eyes, dark and half closed, brooded as he looked into 
the dying fire. "Everybody's goin' west," he said. "I got me a 
parole to keep. Can't leave the state." 

"Parole " Muley asked. "I heard about them. How do 
they work?" 

"Well, 1 got out early, three years early. Thcy's stuff I 
gotta do, or they send me back in. Got to report ever' so 
often." 

"How they treat ya there in McAlestcr? My woman's 
cousin was in McAlester an' they give him hell." 

"It ain't so bad," said Joad. "Like ever'placc else. They 
give ya hell if ya raise hell. You get along O.K. les' some 
guard gets it in for ya. Then you catch plenty hell. 1 got 
along O.K. Minded my own business, like any guy would. 
1 learned to write nice as hell. Birds an' stuff like that, too; 
not just word writin'. My ol' man'll be sore when he sees me 
whip out a bird in one stroke. Pa's gonna be rnad when he 
sees me do that. He don't like no fancv stuff like that. He 



74 The drapes of Wrath 

don't even like word writin'. Kinda scares 'im, I guess. Ever' 

time Pa seen writin', somebody took somepin away from 

'im." 

"They didn' give you no bcatin's or nothin' like that?" 

"No, I jus' tended my own affairs. 'Course you get god- 
damn good an' sick a-doin' the same thing day after day for 
four years. If you done somepin you was ashamed of, you 
might think about that. But, hell, if I seen Herb Turnbull 
comin' for me with a knife right now, I'd squash him down 
with a shovel again/' 

"Anybody would," said Mulcy. The preacher stared into 
the fire, and his high forehead was white in the settling dark. 
The flash of little flames picked out the cords of his neck. 
His hands, clasped about his knees, were busy pulling 
knuckles. 

Joad threw the last bones into the fire and licked his 
fingers and then wiped them on his pants. He stood up and 
brought the bottle of water from the porch, took a sparing 
drink, and passed the bottle before he sat down again. He 
went on, u The thing that give me the mos' trouble was, it 
didn' make no sense. You don't look for no sense when 
lightnin' kills a cow, or it comes up a flood. That's jus' the 
way things is. But when a bunch of men take an' lock you up 
four years, it ought to have some meaning. Men is supposed 
to think things out. Here they put me in, an' keep me an' 
feed me four years. That ought to either make me so I won't 
do her again or else punish me so I'll be afraid to do her 
again" he paused "but if Herb or anybody else come for 
me, I'd do her again. Do her before I could figure her out. 
Specially if I was drunk. That sort of senselessness kind a 
worries a man." 



The Grapes of Wrath 75 

Aluley observed, "Judge says he give you a light sentence 
'cause it wasn't all your fault." 

Joad said, "Thcy's a guy in McAIestcr-lifer. He studies all 
the time. He's sec'etary of the warden writes the warden's 
letters an' stuff like that. Well, he's one hell of a bright guy 
an' reads law an' all stuff like that. Well, I talked to him one 
time about her, 'cause he rends so much stuff. An' he says it 
don't do no good to read books. Says he's read cver'thing 
about prisons now, an' in the old times; an' he says she makes 
less sense to him now than she did before he starts rcadin'. 
He says it's a thing that started way to hell an' gone back, an' 
nobody seems to be able to stop her, an' nobody got sense 
enough to change her. He says for God's sake don't read 
about her because he says for one thing you'll jus' get messed 
up worse, an' for another \ on uon't have no respect for the 
guys that work the gover'nients." 

"I ain't got a hell of a lot of rcspec' for 'cm now," said 
Muley. "On'y kind a government \\c got that leans on us 
fellas is the 'safe margin a profit.' There's one thing that got 
me stumped, an' that's Willy Feclcy drivin' that cat', an' 
gonna be a straw boss on Ian' his own folks used to farm. 
That worries me. I can see how a fella might come from 
some other place an' not know no better, but Willy belongs. 
Worried me so I went up to 'im and ast 'im. Right off he got 
mad. 'I got two little kids,' he says. 'I got a wife an' my wife's 
mother. Them people got to eat.' (lets madder'n hell. 'Fust 
an' on'y thing I got to think about is my own folks,' he says. 
'What happens to other folks is their look-out,' he says. 
Seems like he's 'shamed, so he gets mad." 

Jim Casy had been staring at the dying fire, and his eyes 
had grown wider and his neck muscles stood higher. Sud- 



76 The Grapes of Wrath 

dcnly he cried, "I got her! If ever a man got a dose of the 
sperit, I got her! Got her all of a flash!" He jumped to his 
feet and paced back and forth, his head swinging. "Had a 
tent one time. Drawed as much as five hundred people ever' 
night. That's before either you fellas seen me." He stopped 
and faced them. "F,ver notice I never took no collections 
when I was preachin' out here to folks in barns an 1 in the 
open?" 

"By God, you never," said Aluley. "People around here 
got so use' to not givin' you money they got to bcin' a little 
mad when some other preacher come along an' passed the 
hat. Yes, sir!" 

"I took somcpin to cat," said Casy. "I took a pair a pants 
when mine was wore out, an' a ol' pair a shoes when I was 
walkin' through to the groun\ but it wasn't like when I had 
the tent. Some days there I'd take in ten or twenty dollars. 
Wasn't happy ihat-a-way, so I give her up, an' for a time I 
was happy. I think I got her now. I don' know if I can say 
her. I guess I won't try to say herbut maybe there's a place 
for a preacher. Maybe I can preach again. Folks out lonely 
on the road, folks with no Ian', no home to go to. They got 
to have some kind of home. Maybe" He stood over the fire. 
The hundred muscles of his neck stood out in high relief, 
and the firelight went deep into his eyes and ignited red 
embers. He stood and looked at the fire, his face tense as 
though he were listening, and the hands that had been active 
to pick, to handle, to throw ideas, grew quiet, and in a mo- 
ment crept into his pockets. The bats flittered in and out of 
the dull firelight, and the soft watery burble of a night hawk 
came from across the fields. 

Tom reached quietly into his pocket and brought out his 



The Grapes of Wrath 77 

tobacco, and he rolled a cigarette slowly and looked over it 
at the coals while he worked. He ignored the whole speech 
of the preacher, as though it were sonic private thing that 
should not be inspected. He said, "Night after night in my 
bunk I figgered how she'd be when I conic home again. I 
figgered maybe Grampa or Granma'd be dead, an 1 maybe 
thcre'd be some new kids. Maybe Pa'd not be so tough. 
Maybe Ma'd set back a little an' let Rosasharn do the work. 
I knowed it wouldn't be the same as it was. Well, we'll sleep 
here I guess, an' come daylight; we'll get on to Uncle John's. 
Leastwise I will. You think you're comin' along, Cas\" 

The preacher still stood looking into the coals. He said 
slowly, "Yeah, I'm goin' with you. An' when your folks start 
out on the road I'm goin' with them. An' where folks are on 
the road, I'm gonna be with them." 

"You're ~velcome," said Joad. "Ma always favored you. 
Said you was a preacher to trust. Rosasharn wasn't growcd 
up then." He turned his head. "Mulcy, you gonna walk on 
over with us p " Mulcy was looking toward the road over 
which they had come. "Think you'll come along, Muley?" 
Joad repeated. 

"Huh? No. I don't go no place, an' I don't leave no place. 
See that glow over there, jerkin' up an' down? That's prob'ly 
the super'ntendent of this stretch a cotton. Somebody maybe 
seen our fire." 

Tom looked. The glo\v of light was nearing over the hill. 
"We ain't doin' no harm," he said. "We'll jus' set here. We 
ain't doin' nothin'." 

Muley cackled. "Yeah! We're doin' somepin just' bein' 
here. We're trespassin'. We can't stay. They been tryin' to 
catch me for two months. Now you look. If that's a car 



78 The Grapes of Wrath 

comin' we go out in the cotton an 1 lay down. Don't have to 
go far. Then by God let 'em try to firt' us! Have to look up 
an' down ever 7 row. Jus* keep your head down." 

Joad demanded, "What's come over you, Muley? You 
wasn't never no run-an'-hide fella. You was mean." 

Muley watched the approaching lights. "Yeah!" he said. "I 
was mean like a wolf. Now I'm mean like a weasel. When 
you're huntin' somepin you're a hunter, an' you're strong. 
Can't nobody beat a hunter. But when you get huntedthat's 
different. Somepin happens to you. You ain't strong; maybe 
you're fierce, but you ain't strong. I been hunted now for a 
long time. I ain't a hunter no more. I'd maybe shoot a fella in 
the dark, but I don't maul nobody with a fence stake no 
more. It don't do no good to fool you or me. That's how 
it is." 

"Well, you go out an' hide," said Joad. "Leave me an' Casy 
tell these bastards a few things." The beam of light was 
closer now, and it bounced into the sky and then disap- 
peared, and then bounced up again. All three men watched. 

Muley said, "There's one more thing about bein' hunted. 
You get to thinkin' about all the dangerous things. If you're 
huntin' you don't think about 'em, an' you ain't scared. Like 
you says to me, if you get in any trouble they'll sen' you back 
to McAlester to finish your time." 

"That's right," said Joad. "That's what they toF me, but 
settin' here restin' or sleepin' on the groun' that ain't gettin' 
in no trouble. That ain't doin' nothin' wrong. That ain't like 
gettin' drunk or raisin' hell." 

Muley laughed. "You'll see. You jus' set here, an' the car'll 
come. Maybe it's Willy Feeley, an' Willy's a deputy sheriff 
now. 'What you doin' trespassin' here?' Willy says. Well, 
you always did know Willy was full a crap, so you says, 



The Grapes of Wrath 79 

'What's it to you?' Willy gets mad an' says, Ton get off or 
I'll take you in.' An' you ain't gonna let no Fcclcy push you 
aroun' 'cause he's mad an' scared. He's made a bluff an' he 
got to go on with it, an' here's you gettin' tough an' you got 
to go through oh, hell, it's a lot easier to lay out in the cotton 
an' let 'em look. It's more fun, too, 'cause they're mad an' 
can't do nothin', an' you're out there a-laugliin' at 'cm. But 
you jus' talk to Willy or any boss, an' you slug hell out of 
'em an' they'll take you in an' run you back to Me Alester for 
three years." 

"You're talkin' sense," said Joad. "Ever* word you say is 
sense. But, Jesus, I hate to get pushed around! I lots rather 
take a sock at Willy." 

"He got a gun," said Mulcy. "He'll use it 'cause he's a 
deputy. Then he either got to kill you or you got to get his 
gun away an' kill him. Come on, Tommy. You can easy tell 
yourself you're foolin' them lyin' out like that. An' it all just 
amounts to what you tell yourself." The strong lights angled 
up into the sky now, and the even drone of a motor could 
be heard. "Come on, Tommy. Don't have to go far, jus' 
fourteen-fifteen rows over, an' we can watch what they do." 

Tom got to his feet. "By God, you're right!" he said. "I 
ain't got a thing in the worl' to win, no matter how it comes 
out." 

"Come on, then, over this way." Muley moved around the 
house and out into the cotton field about fifty yards. "This is 
good," he said, "Now lay down. You on'y got to pull your 
head down if they start the spotlight goin'. It's kinda fun." 
The three men stretched out at full length and propped 
themselves on their elbows. Muley sprang up and ran toward 
the house, and in a few moments he came back and threw a 
bundle of coats and shoes down. "They'd of taken 'em along 



8o The Grapes of Wrath 

just to get even," he said. The lights topped the rise and bore 

down on the house. 

Joad asked, " Won't they come out here with flashlights 
an' look aroun' for us? I wisht I had a stick." 

Muley giggled. "No, they won't. I tol' you I'm mean like a 
weasel. Willy done that one night an' I clipped 'im from 
behint with a fence stake. Knocked him colder'n a wedge. 
He tol' later how five guys come at him." 

The car drew up to the house and a spotlight snapped on. 
"Duck," said Muley. The bar of cold white light swung over 
their heads and crisscrossed the field. The hiding men could 
not see any movement, but they heard a car door slam and 
they heard voices. "Scairt to get in the light," Muley whis- 
pered. "Once-twice I've took a shot at the headlights. That 
keeps Willy careful. He got somebody with 'im tonight." 
They heard footsteps on wood, and then from inside the 
house they saw the glow of a flashlight. "Shall I shoot 
through the house?" Muley whispered. "They couldn't see 
where it come from. Give 'em somepin to think about." 

"Sure, go ahead," said Joad. 

"Don't do it," Casy whispered. "It won't do no good. Jus' 
a waste. We got to get thinkin' about doin' stuff that means 
somepin." 

A scratching sound came from near the house. "Puttin* 
out the fire," Muley whispered. "Kickin' dust over it." The 
car doors slammed, the headlights swung around and faced 
the road again. "Now duck!" said Muley. They dropped 
their heads and the spotlight swept over them and crossed 
and recrossed the cotton field, and then the car started and 
slipped away and topped the rise and disappeared. 

Muley sat up. "Willy always tries that las' flash. He done 
it so often I can time 'im. An' he still thinks it's cute." 



The Grapes of Wrath 81 

Casy said, "Maybe they left some fellas at the house. 
They'd catch us when we come back." 

"Maybe. You fellas wait here. I know this game." He 
walked quietly away, and only a slight crunching of clods 
could be heard from his passage. The two waiting men tried 
to hear him, but he had gone. In a moment he called from the 
house, "They didn't leave nobody. Come on back." Casey 
and Joad struggled up and walked back toward the black 
bulk of the house. Muley met them near the smoking dust 
pile which had been their fire. "I didn' think they'd leave 
nobody," he said proudly. "Me knockin' Willy over an* 
takin' a shot at the lights once-twice keeps 'em careful. They 
ain't sure who it is, an' I ain't gonna let 'em catch me. I don't 
sleep near no house. If you fellas wanta come along, I'll show 
you where to sleep, where there ain't nobody gonna stumble 
over ya." 

"Lead off," said Joad. "We'll folia you. I never thought I'd 
be hidin' out on my old man's place." 

Muley set off across the fields, and Joad and Casy followed 
him. They kicked the cotton plants as they went. "You'll be 
hidin' from lots of stuff," said Muley. They marched in 
single file across the fields. They came to a water-cut and slid 
easily down to the bottom of it. 

"By God, I bet I know," cried Joad. "Is it a cave in the 
bank?" 

"That's right. How'd you know?" 

"I dug her," said Joad. "Me an' my brother Noah dug her. 
Lookin' for gold we says we was, but we was jus' diggin* 
caves like kids always does." The walls of the water-cut were 
above their heads now. "Ought to be pretty close," said Joad. 
"Seems to me I remember her pretty close." 

Muley said, "I've covered her with bresh. Nobody 



8 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

couldn't find her." The bottom of the gulch leveled off, and 

the footing was sand. 

Joad settled himself on the clean sand. "I ain't gonna sleep 
in no cave," he said. *Tm gonna sleep right here." He rolled 
his coat and put it under his head. 

Muley pulled at the covering brush and crawled into his 
cave. "I like it in here/' he called. "I feel like nobody can 
come at me." 

Jim Casy sat down on the sand beside Joad. 

"Get some sleep," said Joad. "We'll start for Uncle John's 
at daybreak." 

"I ain't sleepin'," said Casy. "I got too much to puzzle 
with." He drew up his feet and clasped his legs." I Ic threw 
back his head and looked at the sharp stars. Joad yawned and 
brought one hand back under his head. They were silent, and 
gradually the skittering life of the ground, of holes and bur- 
rows, of the brush, began again; the gophers moved, and the 
rabbits crept to green things, the mice scampered over clods, 
and the winged hunters moved soundlessly overhead. 



Chapter Seven 



IN THE towns, on the edges of the towns, in fields, in 
vacant lots, the used-car yards, the wreckers' yards, the 
garages with blazoned signs Used Cars, Good Used Cars. 
Cheap transportation, three trailers. '27 Ford, clean. Checked 
cars, guaranteed cars. Free radio. Car with 100 gallons of gas 
free. Come in and look. Used Cars. No overhead. 

A lot and a house large enough for a desk and chair and 
a blue book. Sheaf of contracts, dog-eared, held with paper 
clips, and a neat pile of unused contracts. Pen keep it full, 
keep it working. A sale's been lost 'cause a pen didn't work. 

Those sons-of-bitchcs over there ain't buying. Every yard 
gets 'em. They're lookers. Spend all their time looking. Don't 
want to buy no cars; take up your time. Don't give a damn 
for your time. Over there, them two people no, with the 
kids. Get 'em in a car. Start 'cm at two hundred and work 
down. They look good for one and a quarter. Get 'em roll- 
ing. Get 'em out in a jalopy. Sock it to 'em! They took our 
time. 

Owners with rolled-up sleeves. Salesmen, neat, deadly, 
small intent eyes watching for weaknesses. 

Watch the woman's face. If the woman likes it we can 
screw the old man. Stan' em on that Cad'. Then you can 
work 'em down to that '26 Buick. 'F you start on the Buick, 
they'll go for a Ford. Roll up your sleeves an' get to work. 
This ain't gonna last forever. Show 'em that Nash while I get 

83 



84 The Grapes of Wrath 

the slow leak pumped up on that '25 Dodge. I'll give you a 

Hymie when I'm ready. 

What you want is transportation, ain't it? No baloney for 
you. Sure the upholstery is shot. Seat cushions ain't turning 
no wheels over. 

Cars lined up, noses forward, rusty noses, flat tires. Parked 
close together. 

Like to get in to see that one? Sure, no trouble. I'll pull her 
out of the line. 

Get 'em under obligation. Make 'em take up your time. 
Don't let 'em forget they're takin' your time. People are nice, 
mostly. They hate to put you out. Make 'em put you out, an' 
then sock it to 'em. 

Cars lined up, Model T's, high and snotty, creaking wheel, 
worn bands. Buicks, Nashes, De Sotos. 

Yes, sir. '22 Dodge. Best goddamn car Dodge ever made. 
Never wear out. Low compression. High compression got 
lots a sap for a while, but the metal ain't made that'll hold it 
for long. Plymouths, Rocknes, Stars. 

Jesus, where'd that Apperson come from, the Ark? And a 
Chalmers and a Chandler ain't made 'em for years. We ain't 
sellin' cars rolling junk. Goddamn it, I got to get jalopies. 
I don't want nothing for more'n twenty-five, thirty bucks. 
Sell 'em for fifty, seventy-five. That's a good profit. Christ, 
what cut do you make on a new car? Get jalopies. I can sell 
'ern fast as I get 'em. Nothing over two hundred fifty. Jim, 
corral that old bastard on the sidewalk. Don't know his ass 
from a hole in the ground. Try him on that Apperson. Say, 
where is that Apperson? Sold? If we. don't get some jalopies 
we got nothing to sell. 

Flags, red and white, white and blue all along the curb. 
Used Cars. Good Used Cars. 



The Grapes of Wrath 85 

Today's bargainup on the platform. Never sell it. Makes 
folks come in, though. If we sold that bargain at that price 
we'd hardly make a dime. Tell 'em it's jus' sold. Take out 
that yard battery before you make delivery. Put in that 
dumb cell. Christ, what they want for six bits? Roll up your 
sleeves pitch in. This ain't gonna last. If I had enough 
jalopies I'd retire in six months. 

Listen, Jim, I heard that Chevvy's rear end. Sounds like 
bustin' bottles. Squirt in a couple quarts of sawdust. Put some 
in the gears, too. We got to move that lemon for thirty-five 
dollars. Bastard cheated me on that one. I offer ten an' he 
jerks me to fifteen, an' then the son-of-a-bitch took the tools 
out. God Almighty! I wisht I had five hundred jalopies. 
This ain't gonna last. He don't like the tires? Tell 'im they 
got ten thousand in 'em, knock off a buck an' a half. 

Piles of rusty ruins against the fence, rows of wrecks in 
back, fenders, grease-black wrecks, blocks lying on the 
ground and a pig weed growing up through the cylinders. 
Brake rods, exhausts, piled like snakes. Grease, gasoline. 

See if you can't find a spark plug that ain't cracked. Christ, 
if I had fifty trailers at under a hundred I'd clean up. What 
the hell is he kickin' about? We sell 'em, but we don't push 
'em home for him. That's good! Don't push 'em home. Get 
that one in the Monthly, I bet. You don't think he's a pros- 
pect? Well, kick 'im out. We got too much to do to bother 
with a guy that can't make up his mind. Take the right front 
tire off the Graham. Turn that mended side down. The rest 
looks swell. Got tread an' everything. 

Sure! There's fifty thousan' in that oP heap yet. Keep 
plenty oil in. So long. Good luck. 

Lookin' for a car? What did you have in mind? See any- 
thing attracts you? I'm dry. How about a little snort a good 



86 The Grapes of Wrath 

stuff? Come on, while your wife's lookin' at that La Salle. 
You don't want no La Salle. Bearings shot. Uses too much oil. 
Got a Lincoln '24. There's a car. Run forever. Make her into 
a truck. 

Hot sun on rusted metal. Oil on the ground. People are 
wandering in, bewildered, needing a car. 

Wipe your feet. Don't lean on that car, it's dirty. How do 
you buy a car? What does it cost? Watch the children, now. 
I wonder how much for this one? We'll ask. It don't cost 
money to ask. We can ask, can't we? Can't pay a nickel over 
seventy-five, or there won't be enough to get to California. 

God, if I could only get a hundred jalopies. I don't care if 
they run or not. 

Tires, used, bruised tires, stacked in tall cylinders; tubes, 
red, gray, hanging like sausages. 

Tire patch? Radiator cleaner? Spark intensifier? Drop this 
little pill in your gas tank and get ten extra miles to the 
gallon. Just paint it on you got a new surface for fifty cents. 
Wipers, fan belts, gaskets? Maybe it's the valve. Get a new 
valve stem. What can you lose for a nickel? 

All right, Joe. You soften 'em up an' shoot 'em in here. I'll 
close 'em, I'll deal 'em or I'll kill 'em. Don't send in no bums. 
I want deals. 

Yes, sir, step in. You got a buy there. Yes, sir! At eighty 
bucks you got a buy. 

I can't go no higher than fifty. The fella outside says fifty. 

Fifty. Fifty? He's nuts. Paid seventy-eight fifty for that 
little number. Joe, you crazy fool, you tryin' to bust us? 
Have to can that guy. I might take sixty. Now look here, 
mister, I ain't got all day. I'm a business man but I ain't out 
to stick nobody. Got anything to trade? 

Got a pair of mules I'll trade. 



The Grapes of Wrath 87 

Mules! Hey, Joe, hear this? This guy wants to trade mules. 
Didn't nobody tell you this is the machine age? They don't 
use mules for nothing but glue no more. 

Fine big mules five and seven years old. Maybe we better 
look around. 

Look around! You come in when we're busy, an' take up 
our time an' then walk out! Joe, did you know you was 
talkin' to pikers? 

I ain't a piker. I got to get a car. We're goin' to California. 
I got to get a car. 

Well, I'm a sucker. Joe says I'm a sucker. Says if I don't 
quit givin' my shirt away I'll starve to death. Tell you what 
I'll do I can get five bucks apiece for them mules for dog 
feed. 

I wouldn't want them to go for dog feed. 

Well, maybe I can get ten or seven maybe. Tell you what 
we'll do. We'll take your mules for twenty. Wagon goes 
with 'em, don't it? An' you put up fifty, an' you can sign a 
contract to send the rest at ten dollars a month. 

But you said eighty. 

Didn't you never hear about carrying charges and insur- 
ance? That just boosts her a little. You'll get her all paid up in 
four-five months. Sign your name right here. We'll take care 
of ever'thing. 

Well, I don't know 

Now, look here. I'm givin' you my shirt, an' you took all 
this time. I might a made three sales while I been talkin' to 
you. I'm disgusted. Yeah, sign right there. All right, sir. Joe, 
fill up the tank for this gentleman. We'll give him gas. 

Jesus, Joe, that was a hot one! What'd we give for that 
jalopy? Thirty bucks thirty-five wasn't it? I got that team, 
an' if I can't get seventy-five for that team, I ain't a business 



88 The Grapes of Wrath 

man. An' I got fifty cash an' a contract for forty more. Oh, 
I know they're not all honest, but it'll surprise you how 
many kick through with the rest. One guy come through 
with a hundred two years after I wrote him off. I bet you 
this guy sends the money. Christ, if I could only get five 
hundred jalopies! Roll up your sleeves, Joe. Go out an' 
soften 'em, an' send 'em in to me. You get twenty on that 
last deal. You ain't doing bad. 

Limp flags in the afternoon sun. Today's Bargain. '29 Ford 
pickup, runs good. 

What do you want for fifty bucks a Zephyr? 

Horsehair curling out of seat cushions, fenders battered 
and hammered back. Bumpers torn loose and hanging. Fancy 
Ford roadster with little colored lights at fender guide, at 
radiator cap, and three behind. Mud aprons, and a big die on 
the gear-shift lever. Pretty girl on tire cover, painted in color 
and named Cora. Afternoon sun on the dusty windshields. 

Christ, I ain't had time to go out an' eat! Joe, send a kid 
for a hamburger. 

Spattering roar of ancient engines. 

There's a dumb-bunny lookin' at that Chrysler. Find out 
if he got any jack in his jeans. Some a these farm boys is 
sneaky. Soften 'em up an' roll 'em in to me, Joe. You're doin' 
good. 

Sure, we sold it. Guarantee? We guaranteed it to be an 
automobile. We didn't guarantee to wet-nurse it. Now listen 
here, you you bought a car, an' now you're squawkin'. I 
don't give a damn if you don't make payments. We ain't got 
your paper. We turn that over to the finance company. 
They'll get after you, not us. We don't hold no paper. Yeah? 
Well you jus' get tough an' I'll call a cop. No, we did not 
switch the tires. Run 'im outa here, Joe. He bought a car, an' 



The Grapes of Wrath 89 

now he ain't satisfied. How'd you think if I bought a steak 
an* et half an' try to bring it back? We're runnin' a business, 
not a charity ward. Can ya imagine that guy, Joe? Say 
looka there! Got a Elk's tooth! Run over there. Let 'em 
glance over that '36 Pontiac. Yeah. 

Square noses, round noses, rusty noses, shovel noses, and 
the long curves of streamlines, and the flat surfaces before 
streamlining. Bargains Today. Old monsters with deep up- 
holsteryyou can cut her into a truck easy. Two-wheel 
trailers, axles rusty in the hard afternoon sun. Used Cars. 
Good Used Cars. Clean, runs good. Don't pump oil. 

Christ, look at 'er! Somebody took nice care of 'er. 

Cadillacs, La Salles, Buicks, Plymouths, Packards, Chev- 
vies, Fords, Pontiacs. Row on row, headlights glinting in the 
afternoon sun. Good Used Cars. 

Soften 'em up, Joe. Jesus, I wisht I had a thousand jalopies! 
Get 'em ready to deal, an' I'll close 'em. 

Coin' to California? Here's jus' what you need. Looks 
shot, but they's thousand of miles in her. 

Lined up side by side. Good Used Cars. Bargains. Clean, 
runs good. 



Chapter Eight 



I" I 1HE SKY grayed among the stars, and the pale, late 

I quarter-moon was insubstantial and thin. Tom Joad 

I and the preacher walked quickly along a road that 

was only wheel tracks and beaten caterpillar tracks through 

a cotton field. Only the unbalanced sky showed the approach 

of dawn, no horizon to the west, and a line to the east. The 

two men walked in silence and smelled the dust their feet 

kicked into the air. 

"I hope you're dead sure of the way," Jim Casy said. "I'd 
hate to have the dawn come and us be way to hell an' gone 
somewhere." The cotton field scurried with waking life, the 
quick flutter of morning birds feeding on the ground, the 
scamper over the clods of disturbed rabbits. The quiet thud- 
ding of the men's feet in the dust, the squeak of crushed 
clods under their shoes, sounded against the secret noises of 
the dawn. 

Tom said, "I could shut my eyes an' walk right there. 
On'y way I can go wrong is think about her. Jus' forget 
about her, an' I'll go right there. Hell, man, I was born right 
aroun' in here. I run aroun' here when I was a kid. They's a 
tree over there look, you can jus' make it out. Well, once 
my old man hung up a dead coyote in that tree. Hung there 
till it was all sort of melted, an' then dropped off. Dried up, 
like. Jesus, I hope Ma's cookin' somepin. My belly's caved." 

"Me too," said Casy. "Like a little eatin* tobacca? Keeps 

90 



The Grapes of Wrath 91 

ya from gettin' too hungry. Been better if we didn' start so 
damn early. Better if it was light/' He paused to gnaw off a 
piece of plug. "I was sleepin' nice." 

"That crazy Muley done it," said Tom. "He got me clear 
jumpy. Wakes me up an' says, * 'By, Tom. I'm goin' on. I 
got places to go/ An' he says, 'Better get goin' too, so's you'll 
be offa this Ian' when the light comes/ He's gettin' screwy 
as a gopher, livin' like he does. You'd think Injuns was after 
him. Think he's nuts?" 

"Well, I dunno. You seen that car come las' night when 
we had a little fire. You seen how the house was smashed, 
They's somepin purty mean goin' on. 'Course Muley's crazy, 
all right. Creepin' aroun' like a coyote; that's boun' to make 
him crazy. He'll kill somebody purty soon an' they'll run 
him down with dogs. I can see it like a prophecy. He'll get 
worse an' worse. Wouldn' come along with us, you say?" 

"No," said Joad. "I think he's scared to see people now. 
Wonder he come up to us. We'll be at Uncle John's place by 
sunrise." They walked along in silence for a time, and the 
late owls flew over toward the barns, the hollow trees, the 
tank houses, where they hid from daylight. The eastern sky 
grew fairer and it was possible to see the cotton plants and 
the graying earth. "Damn' if I know how they're all sleepin' 
at Uncle John's. He on'y got one room an' a cookin' leanto, 
an' a little bit of a barn. Must be a mob there now." 

The preacher said, "I don't recollect that John had a fam- 
bly. Just a lone man, ain't he? I don't recollect much about 
him." 

"Lonest goddamn man in the world," said Joad. "Crazy 
kind of son-of-a-bitch, too somepin like Muley, on'y worse 
in some ways. Might see 'im any wheres at Shawnee, drunk, 
or visitin' a widow twenty miles away, or workin' his place 



92 The Grapes of Wrath 

with a lantern. Crazy. Everybody thought he wouldn't live 

long. A lone man like that don't live long. But Uncle John's 

older'n Pa. Jus' gets stringier an' meaner ever' year. Meaner'n 

Grampa." 

"Look a the light comin'," said the preacher. "Silvery- 
like. Didn' John never have no fambly?" 

"Well, yes, he did, an' that'll show you the kind a fella he 
isset in his ways. Pa tells about it. Uncle John, he had a 
young wife. Married four months. She was in a family way, 
too, an* one night she gets a pain in her stomick, an' she says, 
'You better go for a doctor.' Well, John, he's settin' there, 
an' he says, 'You just got a stomickache. You et too much. 
Take a dose a pain killer. You crowd up ya stomick an' ya 
get a stomickache,' he says. Nex' noon she's outa her head, 
an' she dies at about four in the afternoon." 

"What was it?" Casy asked. "Poisoned from somepin 
she et?" 

"No, somepin jus' bust in her. Ap appendick or somepin. 
Well, Uncle John, he's always been a easy-goin' fella, an' he 
takes it hard. Takes it for a sin. For a long time he won't have 
nothin' to say to nobody. Just walks aroun' like he don't see 
nothin', an' he prays some. Took 'im two years to come out 
of it, an' then he ain't the same. Sort of wild. Made a damn 
nuisance of hisself . Ever' time one of us kids got worms or a 
gutache Uncle John brings a doctor out. Pa finally tol' him 
he got to stop. Kids all the time gettin' a gutache. He figures 
it's his fault his woman died. Funny fella. He's all the time 
makin' it up to somebody givin' kids stuff, droppin' a sack 
a meal on somebody's porch. Give away about ever'thing he 
got, an' still he ain't very happy. Gets walkin' around alone 
at night sometimes. He's a good farmer, though. Keeps his 
Ian' nice." 



The Grapes of Wrath 93 

"Poor fella," said the preacher. "Poor lonely fella. Did he 
go to church much when his woman died?" 

"No, he didn'. Never wanted to get close to folks. Wanted 
to be off alone. I never seen a kid that wasn't crazy about 
him. He'd come to our house in the night sometimes, an' we 
knowed he come 'cause jus' as sure as he come there'd be a 
pack a gum in the bed right beside ever' one of us. We 
thought he was Jesus Christ Awmighty." 

The preacher walked along, head down. He didn't answer. 
And the light of the coming morning made his forehead 
seem to shine, and his hands, swinging beside him, flicked 
into the light and out again. 

Tom was silent too, as though he had said too intimate a 
thing and was ashamed. He quickened his pace and the 
preacher kept step. They could see a little into gray distance 
ahead now. A snake wriggled slowly from the cotton rows 
into the road. Tom stopped short of it and peered. "Gopher 
snake," he said. "Let him go." They walked around the snake 
and went on their way. A little color came into the eastern 
sky, and almost immediately the lonely dawn light crept 
over the land. Green appeared on the cotton plants and the 
earth was gray-brown. The faces of the men lost their gray- 
ish shine. Joad's face seemed to darken with the growing 
light. "This is the good time," Joad said softly. "When I was 
a kid I used to get up an' walk around by myself when it was 
like this. What's that ahead?" 

A committee of dogs had met in the road, in honor of a 
bitch. Five males, shepherd mongrels, collie mongrels, dogs 
whose breeds had been blurred by a freedom of social life, 
were engaged in complimenting the bitch. For each dog 
sniffed daintily and then stalked to a cotton plant on stiff 
legs, raised a hind foot ceremoniously and wetted, then went 



94 The Grapes of Wrath 

back to smell. Joad and the preacher stopped to watch, and 
suddenly Joad laughed joyously. "By God!" he said. "By 
God!" Now all dogs met and hackles rose, and they all 
growled and stood stiffly, each waiting for the others to start 
a fight. One dog mounted and, now that it was accom- 
plished, the others gave way and watched with interest, and 
their tongues were out, and their tongues dripped. The two 
men walked on. "By God!" Joad said. "I think that up-dog is 
our Flash. I thought he'd be dead. Come, Flash!" He laughed 
again. "What the hell, if somebody called me, I wouldn't 
hear him neither. 'Minds me of a story they tell about Willy 
Feeley when he was a young fella. Willy was bashful, awful 
bashful. Well, one day he takes a heifer over to Graves' bull. 
Ever'body was out but Elsie Graves, and Elsie wasn't bashful 
at all. Willy, he stood there turnin' red an' he couldn't even 
talk. Elsie says, 'I know what you come for; the bull's out in 
back a the barn.' Well, they took the heifer out there an' 
Willy an' Elsie sat on the fence to watch. Purty soon Willy 
got feelin' purty fly. Elsie looks over an' says, like she don't 
know, 'What's a matter, Willy?' Willy's so randy he can't 
hardly set still. 'By God,' he says, 'by God, I wisht I was 
a-doin' that!' Elsie says, 'Why not, Willy? It's your heifer.' " 

The preacher laughed softly. "You know," he said, "it's a 
nice thing not bein' a preacher no more. Nobody use' ta tell 
stories when I was there, or if they did I couldn' laugh. An' 
I couldn' cuss. Now I cuss all I want, any time I want, an' it 
does a fella good to cuss if he wants to." 

A redness grew up out of the eastern horizon, and on the 
ground birds began to chirp, sharply. "Look!" said Joad. 
"Right ahead. That's Uncle John's tank. Can't see the 
win'mill, but there's his tank. See it against the sky?" He 
speeded his walk. "I wonder if all the folks are there." The 



The Grapes of Wrath 95 

hulk of the tank stood above a rise. Joad, hurrying, raised a 
cloud of dust about his knees. "I wonder if Ma' 1 They saw 
the tank legs now, and the house, a scjuare little box, un- 
painted and bare, and the barn, low-roofed and huddled. 
Smoke was rising from the tin chimney of the house. In the 
yard was a litter, piled furniture, the blades and motor of the 
windmill, bedsteads, chairs, tables. "Holy Christ, they're 
fixin' to go!" Joad said. A truck stood in the yard, a truck 
with high sides, but a strange truck, for while the front of it 
was a sedan, the top had been cut off in the middle and the 
truck bed fitted on. And as they drew near, the men could 
hear pounding from the yard, and as the rim of the blinding 
sun came up over the horizon, it fell on the truck, and they 
saw a man and the flash of his hammer as it rose and fell. And 
the sun flashed on the windows of the house. The weathered 
boards were bright. Two red chickens on the ground flamed 
with reflected light. 

"Don't yell," said Tom. "Let's creep up on 'em, like," and 
he walked so fast that the dust rose as high as his waist. And 
then he came to the edge of the cotton field. Now they were 
in the yard proper, earth beaten hard, shiny hard, and a few 
dusty crawling weeds on the ground. And Joad slowed as 
though he feared to go on. The preacher, watching him, 
slowed to match his step. Tom sauntered forward, sidled 
embarrassedly toward the truck. It was a Hudson Super-Six 
sedan, and the top had been ripped in two with a cold 
chisel. Old Tom Joad stood in the truck bed and he was 
nailing on the top rails of the truck sides. His grizzled, 
bearded face was low over his work, and a bunch of six- 
penny nails stuck out of his mouth. He set a nail and his 
hammer thundered it in. From the house came the clash of a 
lid on the stove and the wail of a child. Joad sidled up to 



96 The Grapes of Wrath 

the truck bed and leaned against it. And his father looked at 
him and did not see him. His father set another nail and drove 
it in. A flock of pigeons started from the deck of the tank 
house and flew around and settled again and strutted to the 
edge to look over; white pigeons and blue pigeons and grays, 
with iridescent wings. 

Joad hooked his fingers over the lowest bar of the truck 
side. He looked up at the aging, graying man on the truck. 
He wet his thick lips with his tongue, and he said softly, 
"Pa." 

"What do you want?" old Tom mumbled around his 
mouthful of nails. He wore a black, dirty slouch hat and a 
blue work shirt over which was a buttonless vest; his jeans 
were held up by a wide harness-leather belt with a big square 
brass buckle, leather and metal polished from years of wear- 
ing; and his shoes were cracked and the soles swollen and 
boat-shaped from years of sun and wet and dust. The sleeves 
of his shirt were tight on his forearms, held down by the 
bulging powerful muscles. Stomach and hips were lean, and 
legs, short, heavy, and strong. His face, squared by a bristling 
pepper and salt beard, was all drawn down to the forceful 
chin, a chin thrust out and built out by the stubble beard 
which was not so grayed on the chin, and gave weight and 
force to its thrust. Over old Tom's unwhiskered cheek bones 
the skin was as brown as meerschaum, and wrinkled in rays 
around his eye-corners from squinting. His eyes were brown, 
black-coffee brown, and he thrust his head forward when he 
looked at a thing, for his bright dark eyes were failing. His 
lips, from which the big nails protruded, were thin and red. 

He held his hammer suspended in the air, about to drive a 
set nail, and he looked over the truck side at Tom, looked 
resentful at being interrupted. And then his chin drove for- 



The Grapes of Wrath 97 

ward and his eyes looked at Tom's face, and then gradually 
his brain became aware of what he saw. The hammer 
dropped slowly to his side, and with his left hand he took the 
nails from his mouth. And he said wonderingly, as though he 
told himself the fact, "It's Tommy" And then, still inform- 
ing himself, "It's Tommy come home." His mouth opened 
again, and a look of fear came into his eyes. "Tommy," he 
said softly, "you ain't busted out? You ain't got to hide?" He 
listened tensely. 

"Naw," said Tom. "I'm paroled. I'm free. I got my 
papers." He gripped the lower bars of the truck side and 
looked up. 

Old Tom laid his hammer gently on the floor and put his 
nails in his pocket. He swung his leg over the side and 
dropped lithely to the ground, but once beside his son he 
seemed embarrassed and strange. "Tommy," he said, "we are 
goin' to California. But we was gonna write you a letter an r 
tell you." And he said, incredulously, "But you're back. You 
can go with us. You can go! " The lid of a coffee pot slammed 
in the house. Old Tom looked over his shoulder. "Le's sup- 
prise 'em," he said, and his eyes shone with excitement. 
"Your ma got a bad feelin' she ain't never gonna see you no 
more. She got that quiet look like when somebody died. 
Almost she don't want to go to California, fear she'll never 
see you no more." A stove lid clashed in the house again. 
"Le's supprise 'em," old Tom repeated. "Le's go in like you 
never been away. Le's jus' see what your ma says." At last he 
touched Tom, but touched him on the shoulder, timidly, and 
instantly took his hand away. He looked at Jim Casy. 

Tom said, "You remember the preacher, Pa. He come 
along with me." 

"He been in prison too?" 



98 The Grapes of Wrath 

"No, I met 'im on the road. He been away." 

Pa shook hands gravely. "You're welcome here, sir." 

Casy said, "Glad to be here. It's a thing to see when a boy 
comes home. It's a thing to see." 

"Home," Pa said. 

"To his folks," the preacher amended quickly. "We 
stayed at the other place last night." 

Pa's chin thrust out, and he looked back down the road for 
a moment. Then he turned to Tom. "How'11 we do her?" he 
began excitedly. "S'pose I go in an' say, 'Here's some fellas 
want some breakfast/ or how'd it be if you jus' come in an' 
stood there till she seen you? How'd that be?" His face was 
alive with excitement. 

"Don't le's give her no shock," said Tom. "Don't le's scare 
her none." 

Two rangy shepherd dogs trotted up pleasantly, until they 
caught the scent of strangers, and then they backed cau- 
tiously away, watchful, their tails moving slowly and tenta- 
tively in the air, but their eyes and noses quick for animosity 
or danger. One of them, stretching his neck, edged forward, 
ready to run, and little by little he approached Tom's legs 
and sniffed loudly at them. Then he backed away and 
watched Pa for some kind of signal. The other pup was not 
so brave. He looked about for something that could honor- 
ably divert his attention, saw a red chicken go mincing by, 
and ran at it. There was the squawk of an outraged hen, a 
burst of red feathers, and the hen ran off, flapping stubby 
wings for speed. The pup looked proudly back at the men, 
and then flopped down in the dust and beat its tail content- 
edly on the ground. 

"Come on," said Pa, "come on in now. She got to see you. 
I got to see her face when she sees you. Come on. She'll yell 



The Grapes of Wrath 99 

breakfast in a minute. I heard her slap the salt pork in the pan 
a good time ago." He led the way across the fine-dusted 
ground. There was no porch on this house, just a step and 
then the door; a chopping block beside the door, its surface 
matted and soft from years of chopping. The graining in the 
sheathing wood was high, for the dust had cut down the 
softer wood. The smell of burning willow was in the air, and, 
as the three men neared the door, the smell of frying side- 
meat and the smell of high brown biscuits and the sharp smell 
of coffee rolling in the pot. Pa stepped up into the open 
doorway and stood there blocking it with his wide short 
body. He said, "Ma, there's a coupla fellas jus' come along 
the road, an' they wonder if we could spare a bite." 

Tom heard his mother's voice, the remembered cool, calm 
drawl, friendly and humble. "Let 'em come," she said. "We 
got a'plenty. Tell 'em they got to wash their han's. The bread 
is done. I'm jus' takin' up the side-meat now." And the sizzle 
of the angry grease came from the stove. 

Pa stepped inside, clearing the door, and Tom looked in at 
his mother. She was lifting the curling slices of pork from 
the frying pan. The oven door was open, and a great pan of 
high brown biscuits stood waiting there. She looked out the 
door, but the sun was behind Tom, and she saw only a dark 
figure outlined by the bright yellow sunlight. She nodded 
pleasantly. "Come in," she said. "Jus' lucky I made plenty 
bread this morning." 

Tom stood looking in. Ma was heavy, but not fat; thick 
with child-bearing and work. She wore a loose Mother Hub- 
bard of gray cloth in which there had once been colored 
flowers, but the color was washed out now, so that the small 
flowered pattern was only a little lighter gray than the back- 
ground. The dress came down to her ankles, and her strong, 



ioo The Grapes of Wrath 

broad, bare feet moved quickly and deftly over the floor. 
Her thin, steel-gray hair was gathered in a sparse wispy knot 
at the back of her head. Strong, freckled arms were bare to 
the elbow, and her hands were chubby and delicate, like 
those of a plump little girl. She looked out into the sunshine 
Her full face was not soft; it was controlled, kindly. Her 
hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy 
and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a 
high calm and a superhuman understanding. She seemed 
to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel 
of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. 
And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or 
fear unless she acknowledged hurt and fear, she had prac- 
ticed denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful 
thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, 
it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate mate- 
rials. But better than joy was calm. Imperturbability could 
be depended upon. And from her great and humble position 
in the family she had taken dignity and a clean calm beauty. 
From her position as healer, her hands had grown sure and 
cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become 
as remote and faultless in judgment as a goddess. She seemed 
to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever 
really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the 
family will to function would be gone. 

She looked out into the sunny yard, at the dark figure of a 
man. Pa stood near by, shaking with excitement. "Come in," 
he cried. "Come right in, mister." And Tom a little shame- 
facedly stepped over the doorsill. 

She looked up pleasantly from the frying pan. And then 
her hand sank slowly to her side and the fork clattered to 
the wooden floor. Her eyes opened wide, and the pupils 



The Grapes of Wrath 101 

dilated. She breathed heavily through her open mouth. She 
closed her eyes. "Thank God," she said. "Oh, thank God!" 
And suddenly her face was worried. "Tommy, you ain't 
wanted? You didn' bust loose?" 

- "No, Ma. Parole. I got the papers here." He touched his 
breast. 

She moved toward him lithely, soundlessly in her bare feet, 
and her face was full of wonder. Her small hand felt his arm, 
felt the soundness of his muscles. And then her fingers went 
up to his cheek as a blind man's fingers might. And her joy 
was nearly like sorrow. Tom pulled his underlip between 
his teeth and bit it. Her eyes went wonderingly to his bitten 
lip, and she saw the little line of blood against his teeth and 
the trickle of blood down his lip. Then she knew, and her 
control came back, and her hand dropped. Her breath came 
out explosively. "Well!" she cried. "We come mighty near 
to goin' without ya. An' we was wonderin' how in the worl' 
you could ever find us." She picked up the fork and combed 
the boiling grease and brought out a dark curl of crisp pork. 
And she set the pot of tumbling coffee on the back of the 
stove. 

Old Tom giggled, "Fooled ya, huh, Ma? We aimed to fool 
ya, and we done it. Jus' stood there like a hammered sheep. 
Wisht Grampa'd been here to see. Looked like somebody'd 
beat ya between the eyes with a sledge. Grampa would a 
whacked 'imself so hard he'd a throwed his hip out like he 
done when he seen Al take a shot at that grea' big airship the 
army got. Tommy, it come over one day, half a mile big, an' 
Al gets the thirty-thirty and blazes away at her. Grampa 
yells, 'Don't shoot no fledglin's, Al; wait till a gro wed-up one 
goes over,' an' then he whacked 'imself an' throwed his hip 
out." 



The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma chuckled and took down a heap of tin plates from a 
shelf. 

Tom asked, "Where is Grampa? I ain't seen the ol' devil." 

Ma stacked the plates on the kitchen table and piled cups 
beside them. She said confidentially, u Oh, him an' Granma 
sleeps in the barn. They got to get up so much in the night. 
They was stumblin' over the little fellas." 

Pa broke in, u Yeah, ever' night Grampa'd get mad. Tum- 
ble over Winfield, an' Winfield'd yell, an' Grampa'd get mad 
an' wet his drawers, an' that'd make him madder, an' purty 
soon everybody in the house'd be yellin' their head off." His 
words tumbled out between chuckles. "Oh, we had lively 
times. One night when ever'body was yellin' an' a-cussin', 
your brother Al, he's a smart aleck now, he says, 'Goddamn 
it, Grampa, why don't you run off an' be a pirate?' Well, 
that made Grampa so goddamn mad he went for his gun. 
Al had ta sleep out in the fieP that night. But now Granma 
an* Grampa both sleeps in the barn." 

Ma said, "They can jus' get up an' step outside when they 
feel like it. Pa, run on out an' tell 'em Tommy's home. 
Grampa's a favorite of him." 

"A course," said Pa. "I should of did it before." He went 
out the door and crossed the yard, swinging his hands high. 

Tom watched him go, and then his mother's voice called 
his attention. She was pouring coffee. She did not look at 
him. "Tommy," she said hesitantly, timidly. 

"Yeah?" His timidity was set off by hers, a curious embar- 
rassment. Each one knew the other was shy, and became 
more shy in the knowledge. 

"Tommy, I got to ask you you ain't mad?" 

"Mad, Ma?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 103 

"You ain't poisoned mad? You don't hate nobody? They 
didn' do nothin' in that jail to rot you out with crazy mad?" 

He looked sidewise at her, studied her, and his eyes seemed 
to ask how she could know such things. "No-o-o," he said. 
"I was for a little while. But I ain't proud like some fellas. 
I let stuff run off'n me. What's a matter, Ala?" 

Now she was looking at him, her mouth open, as though 
to hear better, her eyes digging to know better. 1 Icr face 
looked for the answer that is always concealed in language. 
She said in confusion, "I knowed Purty Boy Floyd. I 
knowed his ma. They was good folks. I Ic was full a hell, 
sure, like a good boy ou'^hta be." She paused and then her 
words poured out. "I don' know all like this but I know it. 
He done a little bad thing a' they hurt 'im, caught 'im an' 
hurt him so he was mad, an' the nex' bad thing he done was 
mad, an' they hurt 'im again. An' purty soon he was mean- 
mad. They shot at him like a varmint, an' he shot back, an' 
then they run him like a coyote, an' him a-snappin' an' a- 
snarlin', mean as a lobo. An' he was mad. He wasn't no boy 
or no man no more, he was jus' a walkin' chunk a mean-mad. 
But the folks that knowed him didn' hurt 'im. I le vvasn' mad 
at them. Finally they run him down an' killed 'im. No matter 
how they say it in the paper how he was bad that's how it 
was." She paused and she licked her dry lips, and her whole 
face was an aching question. "I got to know, Tommy. Did 
they hurt you so much? Did they make you mad like that?" 

Tom's heavy lips were pulled tight over his teeth. He 
looked down at his big flat hands. "No," he said. "I ain't like 
that." He paused and studied the broken nails, which were 
ridged like clam shells. "All the time in stir I kep' away from 
stuff like that. I ain' so mad." 

She sighed, "Thank God!" under her breath. 



The Grapes of Wrath 

He looked up quickly. "Ma, when I seen what they done 
to our house " 

She came near to him then, and stood close; and she said 
passionately, "Tommy, don't you go fightin' 'em alone. 
They'll hunt you down like a coyote. Tommy, I got to 
thinkin' an' dreamin' an' wonderin'. They say there's a hun- 
'erd thousand of us shoved out. If we was all mad the sime 
way, Tommythey wouldn't hunt nobody down" She 
stopped. 

Tommy, looking at her, gradually drooped his eyelids, 
until just a short glitter showed through his lashes. "Many 
folks feel that way?" he demanded. 

"I don' know. They're jus' kinda stunned. Walk aroun' 
like they was half asleep." 

From outside and across the yard came an ancient creaking 
blear. "Pu-raise Gawd fur vittory! Pu-raise Gawd fur 
vittory!" 

Tom turned his head and grinned. "Granma finally heard 
I'm home. Ma," he said, "you never was like this before!" 

Her face hardened and her eyes grew cold. "I never had 
my house pushed over," she said. "I never had my fambly 
stuck out on the road. I never had to sell ever'thing Here 
they come now." She moved back to the stove and dumped 
the big pan of bulbous biscuits on two tin plates. She shook 
flour into the deep grease to make gravy, and her hand was 
white with flour. For a moment Tom watched her, and then 
he went to the door. 

Across the yard came four people. Grampa was ahead, a 
lean, ragged, quick old man, jumping with quick steps and 
favoring his right leg the side that came out of joint. He 
was buttoning his fly as he came, and his old hands were hav- 
ing trouble finding the buttons, for he had buttoned the top 



The Grapes of Wrath 105 

button into the second buttonhole, and that threw the whole 
sequence off. He wore dark ragged pants and a torn blue 
shirt, open all the way down, and showing long gray under- 
wear, also unbuttoned. His lean white chest, fuzzed with 
white hair, was visible through the opening in his underwear. 
He gave up the fly and left it open and fumbled with the 
underwear buttons, then gave the whole thing up and 
hitched his brown suspenders. His was a lean excitable face 
with little bright eyes as evil as a frantic child's eyes. A can- 
tankerous, complaining, mischievous, laughing face. He 
fought and argued, told dirty stories. He was as lecherous as 
always. Vicious and cruel and impatient, like a frantic child, 
and the whole structure overlaid with amusement. He drank 
too much when he could get it, ate too much when it was 
there, talked too much all the time. 

Behind him hobbled Granma, who had survived only be- 
cause she was as mean as her husband. She had held her own 
with a shrill ferocious religiosity that was as lecherous and 
as savage as anything Grampa could offer. Once, after a 
meeting, while she was still speaking in tongues, she fired 
uoth barrels of a shotgun at her husband, ripping one of his 
buttocks nearly off, and after that he admired her and did 
not try to torture her as children torture bugs. As she walked 
she hiked her Mother Hubbard up to her knees, and she 
bleated her shrill terrible war cry: "Pu-raise Gawd fur 
vittory." 

Granma and Grampa raced each other to get across the 
broad yard. They fought over everything, and loved and 
needed the fighting. 

Behind them, moving slowly and evenly, but keeping up, 
came Pa and Noah Noah the first-born, tall and strange, 
walking always with a wondering look on his face, calm and 



106 The Grapes of Wrath 

puzzled. He had never been angry in his life. He looked in 
wonder at angry people, wonder and uneasiness, as normal 
people look at the insane. Noah moved slowly, spoke seldom, 
and then so slowly that people who did not know him often 
thought him stupid. He was not stupid, but he was strange. 
He had little pride, no sexual urges. He worked and slept in 
a curious rhythm that nevertheless sufficed him. He was fond 
of his folks, but never showed it in any way. Although an 
observer could not have told why, Noah left the impression 
of being misshapen, his head or his body or his legs or his 
mind; but no misshapen member could be recalled. Pa thought 
he knew why Noah was strange, but Pa was ashamed, and 
never told. For on the night when Noah was born, Pa, fright- 
ened at the spreading thighs, alone in the house, and horrified 
at the screaming wretch his wife had become, went mad with 
apprehension. Using his hands, his strong fingers for forceps, 
he had pulled and twisted the baby. The midwife, arriving 
late, had found the baby's head pulled out of shape, its neck 
stretched, its body warped; and she had pushed the head back 
and molded the body with her hands. But Pa always remem- 
bered, and was ashamed. And he was kinder to Noah than to 
the others. In Noah's broad face, eyes too far apart, and long 
fragile jaw, Pa thought he saw the twisted, warped skull of 
the baby. Noah could do all that was required of him, could 
read and write, could work and figure, but he didn't seem to 
care; there was a listlessness in him toward things people 
wanted and needed. He lived in a strange silent house and 
looked out of it through calm eyes. He was a stranger to all 
the world, but he was not lonely. 

The four came across the yard, and Grampa demanded, 
"Where is he? Goddamn it, where is he?" And his fingers 



The Grapes of Wrath 107 

fumbled for his pants button, and forgot and strayed into his 
pocket. And then he saw Tom standing in the door. Grampa 
stopped and he stopped the others. His little eyes glittered 
with malice. "Lookut him," he said. "A jailbird. Ain't been 
no Joads in jail for a hell of a time." His mind jumped. "Got 
no right to put 'im in jail. He done just what I'd do. Sons-a- 
bitches got no right." His mind jumped again. "An' oP Turn- 
bull, stinkin' skunk, braggin' how he'll shoot ya when ya 
come out. Says he got Hatfield blood. Well, I sent word to 
him. I says, 'Don't mess around with no Joad. Ala) be I got 
McCoy blood for all I know.' I says, 'You lay your sights 
anywheres near Tommy an' I'll take it an' I'll ram it up your 
ass,' I says. Scairt 'im, too." 

Granma, not following the conversation, bleated, "Pu-raise 
Gawd fur vittory." 

Grampa walked up and slapped Tom on the chest, and his 
eyes grinned with affection and pride. "How are ya, 
Tommy?" 

"O.K." said Tom. "How ya keepin' yasclP" 

"Full a piss an' vinegar," said Grampa. His mind jumped. 
"Jus' like I said, they ain't a gonna keep no Joad in jail. I 
says, 'Tommy'll come a-bustin' outa that jail like a bull 
through a corral fence.' An' you done it. Get outa my way, 
I'm hungry." He crowded past, sat down, loaded his plate 
with pork and two big biscuits and poured the thick gravy 
over the whole mess, and before the others could get in, 
Grampa's mouth was full. 

Tom grinned affectionately at him. "Ain't he a heller?" he 
said. And Grampa's mouth was so full that he couldn't even 
splutter, but his mean little eyes smiled, and he nodded his 
head violently. 



io8 The Grapes of Wrath 

Granma said proudly, "A wicketer, cussin'er man never 
lived. He's goin' to hell on a poker, praise Gawd! Wants to 
drive the truck! " she said spitefully. "Well, he ain't goin' ta." 

Grampa choked, and a mouthful of paste sprayed into his 
lap, and he coughed weakly. 

Granma smiled up at Tom. "Messy, ain't he?" she ob- 
served brightly. 

Noah stood on the step, and he faced Tom, and his wide- 
set eyes seemed to look around him. His face had little ex- 
pression. Tom said, "How ya, Noah?" 

"Fine," said Noah. "How a' you?" That was all, but it was 
a comfortable thing. 

Ma waved the flies away from the bowl of gravy. "We 
ain't got room to set down," she said. "Jus' get yaself a plate 
an' set down wherever ya can. Out in the yard or some- 
place." 

Suddenly Tom said, "Hey! Where's the preacher? He was 
right here. Where'd he go?" 

Pa said, "I seen him, but he's gone." 

And Granma raised a shrill voice, "Preacher? You got a 
preacher? Go git him. We'll have a grace." She pointed at 
Grampa. "Too late for himhe's et. Go git the preacher." 

Tom stepped out on the porch. "Hey, Jim! Jim Casy!" he 
called. He walked out in the yard. "Oh, Casy!" The preacher 
emerged from under the tank, sat up, and then stood up and 
moved toward the house. Tom asked, "What was you doin' t 
hidin'?" 

"Well, no. But a fella shouldn' butt his head in where a 
fambly got fambly stuff. I was jus' settin' a-thinkin'." 

"Come on in an' eat," said Tom. "Granma wants a grace." 

"But I ain't a preacher no more," Casy protested. 



The Grapes of Wrath 109 

"Aw, come on. Give her a grace. Don't do you no harm, 
an' she likes 'em." They walked into the kitchen together. 

Ma said quietly, "You're welcome." 

And Pa said, "You're welcome. Have some breakfast." 

"Grace fust," Granma clamored. "Grace fust." 

Grampa focused his eyes fiercely until he recognized Casy. 
"Oh, that preacher," he said. "Oh, he's all right. I always 
liked him since I seen him" He winked so lecherously that 
Granma thought he had spoken and retorted, "Shut up, you 
sinful ol' goat." 

Casy ran his fingers through his hair nervously. "I got to 
tell you, I ain't a preacher no more. If me jus' bein' glad to 
be here an' bein' thankful for people that's kind and gener- 
ous, if that's enough why, I'll say that kinda grace. But I 
ain't a preacher no more." 

"Say her," said Granma. "An' get in a word about us goin' 
to California." The preacher bowed his head, and the others 
bowed their heads. Ma folded her hands over her stomach 
and bowed her head. Granma bowed so low that her nose 
was nearly in her plate of biscuit and gravy. Tom, lean- 
ing against the wall, a plate in his hand, bowed stiffly, 
and Grampa bowed his head sidewise, so that he could 
keep one mean and merry eye on the preacher. And on the 
preacher's face there was a look not of prayer, but of 
thought; and in his tone not supplication, but conjecture. 

"I been thinkin'," he said. "I been in the hills, thinkin', 
almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to 
think His way out of a mess of troubles." 

"Pu-raise Gawd!" Granma said, and the preacher glanced 
over at her in surprise. 

"Seems like Jesus got all messed up with troubles, and He 



no The Grapes of Wrath 

couldn't figure nothin' out, an' He got to f eelin' what the hell 
good is it all, an' what's the use fightin' an' figurin'. Got tired, 
got good an' tired, an' His sperit all wore out. Jus' about 
come to the conclusion, the hell with it. An' so He went off 
into the wilderness." 

"A men," Granma bleated. So many years she had timed 
her responses to the pauses. And it was so many years since 
she had listened to or wondered at the words used. 

"I ain't sayin' I'm like Jesus," the preacher went on. "But 
I got tired like Him, an' I got mixed up like Him, an' I went 
into the wilderness like Him, without no campin' stuff. 
Nighttime I'd lay on my back an' look up at the stars; morn- 
ing I'd set an' watch the sun come up; midday I'd look out 
from a hill at the rollin' dry country; evenin' I'd foller the 
sun down. Sometimes I'd pray like I always done. On'y I 
couldn' figure what I was prayin' to or for. There was the 
hills, an' there was me, an' we wasn't separate no more. We 
was one thing. An' that one thing was holy." 

"Hallelujah," said Granma, and she rocked a little, back 
and forth, trying to catch hold of an ecstasy. 

"An' I got thinkin', on'y it wasn't thinkin', it was deeper 
down than thinkin'. I got thinkin' how we was holy when 
we was one thing, an' mankin' was holy when it was one 
thing. An' it on'y got unholy when one mis'able little fella 
got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' an' 
draggin' an' fightin'. Fella like that bust the holiness. But 
when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another, 
fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang 
that's right, that's holy. An' then I got thinkin' I don't even 
know what I mean by holy." He paused, but the bowed 
heads stayed down, for they had been trained like dogs to 
rise at the "amen" signal. "I can't say no grace like I use' ta 



The Grapes of Wrath 1 1 1 

say. I'm glad of the holiness of breakfast. I'm glad there's 
love here. That's all." The heads stayed down. The preacher 
looked around. "I've got your breakfast cold," he said; and 
then he remembered. "Amen," he said, and all the heads 
rose up. 

"A men," said Granma, and she fell to her breakfast, and 
broke down the soggy biscuits with her hard old toothless 
gums. Tom ate quickly, and Pa crammed his mouth. There 
was no talk until the food was gone, the coffee drunk; only 
the crunch of chewed food and the slup of coffee cooled in 
transit to the tongue. Ma watched the preacher as he ate, and 
her eyes were questioning, probing and understanding. She 
watched him as though he were suddenly a spirit, not human 
any more, a voice out of the ground. 

The men finished and put down their plates, and drained 
the last of their coffee; and then the men went out, Pa and 
the preacher and Noah and Grampa and Tom, and they 
walked over to the truck, avoiding the litter of furniture, the 
wooden bedsteads, the windmill machinery, the old plow. 
They walked to the truck and stood beside it. They touched 
the new pine side-boards. 

Tom opened the hood and looked at the big greasy engine. 
And Pa came up beside him. He said, "Your brother Al 
looked her over before we bought her. He says she's all 
right." 

"What's he know? He's just a squirt," said Tom. 

"He worked for a company. Drove truck last year. He 
knows quite a little. Smart aleck like he is. He knows. He can 
tinker an engine, Al can." 

Tom asked, "Where's he now?" 

"Well," said Pa, "he's a-billygoatin' aroun' the country. 
Tom-cattin' hisself to death. Smart-aleck sixteen-year-older, 



1 1 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

an' his nuts is just a-eggin' him on. He don't think of nothin' 
but girls and engines. A plain smart aleck. Ain't been in 
nights for a week." 

Grampa, fumbling with his chest, had succeeded in but- 
toning the buttons of his blue shirt into the buttonholes of 
his underwear. His fingers felt that something was wrong, 
but did not care enough to find out. His fingers went down 
to try to figure out the intricacies of the buttoning of his fly. 
"I was worse," he said happily. "I was much worse. I was a 
heller, you might say. Why, they was a camp meetin' right 
in Sallisaw when I was a young fella a little bit older'n Al. 
He's just a squirt, an' punkin-soft. But I was older. An' we 
was to this here camp meetin'. Five hunderd folks there, an' 
a proper sprinklin' of young heifers." 

"You look like a heller yet, Grampa," said Tom. 
"Well, I am, kinda. But I ain't nowheres near the fella I 
was. Jus' let me get out to California where I can pick me an 
orange when I want it. Or grapes. There's a thing I ain't 
never had enough of. Gonna get me a whole big bunch a 
grapes off a bush, or whatever, an' I'm gonna squash 'em on 
my face an' let 'em run offen my chin." 

Tom asked, "Where's Uncle John? Where's Rosasharn? 
Where's Ruthie an' Winfield? Nobody said nothin' about 
them yet." 

Pa said, "Nobody asked. John gone to Sallisaw with a load 
a stuff to sell: pump, tools, chickens, an' all the stuff we 
brung over. Took Ruthie an' Winfield with 'im. Went 'fore 
daylight." 

"Funny I never saw him," said Tom. 
"Well, you come down from the highway, didn' you? He 
took the back way, by Cowlington. An' Rosasharn, she's 
nestin' with Connie's folks. Bv God! You don't even know 



The Grapes of Wrath 1 1 3 

Rosasharn's married to Connie Rivers. You 'member Connie. 
Nice young fella. An' Rosasharn's due 'bout three-four-five 
months now. Swellin' up right now. Looks fine." 

"Jesus!" said Tom. "Rosasharn was just a little kid. An' 
now she's gonna have a baby. So damn much happens in four 
years if you're away. When ya think to start out west, Pa?" 

"Well, we got to take this stuff in an' sell it. If Al gets back 
from his squirtin' aroun', I figgered he could load the truck 
an' take all of it in, an' maybe we could start out tomorra or 
day after. We ain't got so much money, an' a fella says it's 
damn near two thousan' miles to California. Quicker we get 
started, surer it is we get there. Money's a-dribblin' out all 
the time. You got any money?" 

"On'y a couple Collars. How'd you get money?" 

"Well," said Pa, "we sol' all the stuff at our place, an' the 
whole bunch of us chopped cotton, even Grampa." 

"Sure did," said Grampa. 

"We put ever'thing together two hunderd dollars. We 
give seventy-five for this here truck, an' me an' Al cut her in 
two an' built on this here back. Al was gonna grind the 
valves, but he's too busy messin' aroun' to get down to her. 
We'll have maybe a hunderd an' fifty when we start. Damn 
oF tires on this here truck ain't gonna go far. Got a couple of 
wore out Spares. Pick stuff up along the road, I guess." 

The sun, driving straight down, stung with its rays. The 
shadows of the truck bed were dark bars on the ground, and 
the truck smelled of hot oil and oilcloth and paint. The few 
chickens had left the yard to hide in the tool shed from the 
sun. In the sty the pigs lay panting, close to the fence where 
a thin shadow fell, and they complained shrilly now and 
then. The two dogs were stretched in the red dust under the 
truck, panting, their dripping tongues covered with dust. Pa 



H4 The Grapes of Wrath 

pulled his hat low over his eyes and squatted down on his 
hams. And, as though this were his natural position of 
thought and observation, he surveyed Tom critically, the 
new but aging cap, the suit, and the new shoes. 

"Did you spen' your money for them clothes?" he asked. 
"Them clothes are jus' gonna be a nuisance to ya." 

"They give 'em to me," said Tom. "When I come out they 
give 'em to me." He took off his cap and looked at it with 
some admiration, then wiped his forehead with it and put it 
on rakishly and pulled at the visor. 

Pa observed, "Them's a nice-lookin' pair a shoes they give 
ya." 

"Yeah," Joad agreed. "Purty for nice, but they ain't no 
shoes to go walkin' aroun' in on a hot day." Fie squatted be- 
side his father. 

Noah said slowly, "Maybe if you got them side-boards all 
true on, we could load up this stuff. Load her up so maybe if 

Al comes in " 

"I can drive her, if that's what you want," Tom said. "I 
drove truck at McAlester." 

"Good," said Pa, and then his eyes stared down the road. 
"If I ain't mistaken, there's a young smart aleck draggin' his 
tail home right now," he said. "Looks purty wore out, 
too." 

Tom and the preacher looked up the road. And randy Al, 
seeing he was being noticed, threw back his shoulders, and 
he came into the yard with a swaying strut like that of a 
rooster about to crow. Cockily, he walked close before he 
recognized Tom; and when he did, his boasting face 
changed, and admiration and veneration shone in his eyes, 
and his swagger fell away. His stiff jeans, with the bottoms 
turned up eight inches to show his heeled boots, his three- 



The Grapes of Wrath 1 1 5 

inch belt with copper figures on it, even the red arm bands 
on his blue shirt and the rakish angle of his Stetson hat could 
not build him up to his brother's stature; for his brother had 
killed a man, and no one would ever forget it. Al knew that 
even he had inspired some admiration among boys of his 
own age because his brother had killed a man. He had heard 
in Sallisaw how he was pointed out: "That's Al Joad. His 
brother killed a fella with a shovel." 

And now Al, moving humbly near, saw that his brother 
was not a swaggerer as he had supposed. Al saw the dark 
brooding eyes of his brother, and the prison calm, the 
smooth hard face trained to indicate nothing to a prison 
guard, neither resistance nor slavishness. And instantly Al 
changed. Unconsciously he became like his brother, and his 
handsome face brooded, and his shoulders relaxed. He hadn't 
remembered how Tom was. 

Tom said, "Hello, Al. Jesus, you're growin' like a bean! I 
wouldn't of knowed you." 

Al, his hand ready if Tom should want to shake it, grinned 
self-consciously. Tom stuck out his hand and Al's hand 
jerked out to meet it. And there was liking between these 
two. "They tell me you're a good hand with a truck," said 
Tom. 

And Al, sensing that his brother would not like a boaster, 
said, "I don't know nothin' much about it." 

Pa said, "Been smart-alecking aroun' the country. You 
look wore out. Well, you got to take a load of stuff into 
Sallisaw to sell." 

Al looked at his brother Tom. "Care to ride in?" he said 
as casually as he could. 

"No, I can't," said Tom. "I'll help aroun' here. We'll be- 
together on the road." 



1 1 6 The Grapes of Wrath 

Al tried to control his question. "Did did you bust out? 
Of jail?" 

"No," said Tom. "I got paroled." 

"Oh." And Al was a little disappointed. 



Chapter Nine 



IN THE little houses the tenant people sifted their belong- 
ings and the belongings of their fathers and of their 
grandfathers. Picked over their possessions for the 
journey to the west. The men were ruthless because the past 
had been spoiled, but the women knew how the past would 
cry to them in the coming days. The men went into the 
barns and the sheds. 

That plow, that harrow, remember in the war we planted 
mustard? Remember a fella wanted us to put in that rubber 
bush they call guayule? Get rich, he said. Bring out those 
tools get a few dollars for them. Eighteen dollars for that 
plow, plus freight Sears Roebuck. 

Harness, carts, seeders, little bundles of hoes. Bring 'em 
out. Pile 'em up. Load 'em in the wagon. Take 'em to town. 
Sell 'em for what you can get. Sell the team and the wagon, 
too. No more use for anything. 

Fifty cents isn't enough to get for a good plow. That 
seeder cost thirty-eight dollars. Two dollars isn't enough. 
Can't haul it all back Well, take it, and a bitterness with it. 
Take the well pump and the harness. Take halters, collars, 
hames, and tugs. Take the little glass brow-band jewels, roses 
red under glass. Got those for the bay gelding. 'Member how 
he lifted his feet when he trotted? 

Junk piled up in a yard. 

Can't sell a hand plow any more. Fifty cents for the weight 
of the metal. Disks and tractors, that's the stuff now. 

117 



1 1 8 The Grapes of Wrath 

Well, take it all junk and give me five dollars. You're not 
buying only junk, you're buying junked lives. And more 
you'll see you're buying bitterness. Buying a plow to plow 
your own children under, buying the arms and spirits that 
might have saved you. Five dollars, not four. I can't haul 'em 
back Well, take 'em for four. But I warn you, you're buy- 
ing what will plow your own children under. And you 
won't see. You can't see. Take 'em for four. Now, what'll 
you give for the team and wagon? Those fine bays, matched 
they are, matched in color, matched the way they walk, 
stride to stride. In the stiff pull straining hams and but- 
tocks, split-second timed together. And in the morning, 
the light on them, bay light. They look over the fence sniff- 
ing for us, and the stiff ears swivel to hear us, and the black 
forelocks! I've got a girl. She likes to braid the manes and 
forelocks, puts little red bows on them. Likes to do it. Not 
any more. I could tell you a funny story about that girl and 
that off bay. Would make you laugh. Off horse is eight, near 
is ten, but might of been twin colts the way they work to- 
gether. See? The teeth. Sound all over. Deep lungs. Feet fair 
and clean. How much? Ten dollars? For both? And the 
wagon Oh, Jesus Christ! I'd shoot 'em for dog feed first. 
Oh, take 'em! Take 'em quick, mister. You're buying a little 
girl plaiting the forelocks, taking off her hair ribbon to make 
bows, standing back, head cocked, rubbing the soft noses 
with her cheek. You're buying years of work, toil in the sun; 
you're buying a sorrow that can't talk. But watch it, mister. 
There's a premium goes with this pile of junk and the bay 
horses so beautiful a packet of bitterness to grow in your 
house and to flower, some day. We could have saved you, 
but you cut us down, and soon you will be cut down and 
there'll be none of us to save you. 



The Grapes of Wrath 119 

And the tenant men came walking back, hands in their 
pockets, hats pulled down. Some bought a pint and drank it 
fast to make the impact hard and stunning. But they didn't 
laugh and they didn't dance. They didn't sing or pick the 
guitars. They walked back to the farms, hands in pockets and 
heads down, shoes kicking the red dust up. 

Maybe we can start again, in the new rich land in Cali- 
fornia, where the fruit grows. We'll start over. 

But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me 
why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thou- 
sand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and 
the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are 
us. We can't start again. The bitterness we sold to the junk 
man he got it all right, but we have it still. And when the 
owner men told us to go, that's us; and when the tractor hit 
the house, that's us until we're dead. To California or any 
place every one a drum major leading a parade of hurts, 
marching with our bitterness. And some day the armies of 
bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all 
walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it. 

The tenant men scuffed home to the farms through the 
red dust. 

When everything that could be sold was sold, stoves and 
bedsteads, chairs and tables, little corner cupboards, tubs and 
tanks, still there were piles of possessions; and the women sat 
among them, turning them over and looking off beyond and 
back, pictures, square glasses, and here's a vase. 

Now you know well what we can take and what we can't 
take. We'll be camping out a few pots to cook and wash in, 
and mattresses and comforts, lantern and buckets, and a piece 
of canvas. Use that for a tent. This kerosene can. Know what 
that is? That's the stove. And clothes take all the clothes. 



120 The Grapes of Wrath 

And the rifle? Wouldn't go out naked of a rifle. When 
shoes and clothes and food, when even hope is gone, we'll 
have the rifle. When grampa came did I tell you? he had 
pepper and salt and a rifle. Nothing else. That goes. And a 
bottle for water. That just about fills us. Right up the sides 
of the trailer, and the kids can set in the trailer, and granma 
on a mattress. Tools, a shovel and saw and wrench and pliers. 
An ax, too. We had that ax forty years. Look how she's wore 
down. And ropes, of course. The rest? Leave it or burn it 
up. 

And the children came. 

If Mary takes that doll, that dirty rag doll, I got to take my 
Injun bow. I got to. An' this roun' stick big as me. I might 
need this stick. I had this stick so long a month, or maybe a 
year. I got to take it. And what's it like in California? 

The women sat among the doomed things, turning them 
over and looking past them and back. This book. My father 
had it. He liked a book. Pilgrim's Progress. Used to read it. 
Got his name in it. And his pipe still smells rank. And this 
picture an angel. I looked at that before the fust three come 
didn't seem to do much good. Think we could get this 
china dog in? Aunt Sadie brought it from the St. Louis Fair. 
See? Wrote right on it. No, I guess not. Here's a letter my 
brother wrote the day before he died. Here's an old-time 
hat. These feathers never got to use them. No, there isn't 
room. 

How can we live without our lives? How will we know 
it's us without our past? No. Leave it. Burn it. 

They sat and looked at it and burned it into their memo- 
ries. How'll it be not to know what land's outside the door? 
How if you wake up in the night and know and know the 
willow tree's not there? Can you live without the willow 



The Grapes of Wrath 121 

tree? Well, no, you can't. The willow tree is you. The pain 
on that mattress there that dreadful pain that's you. 

And the children if Sam takes his Injun bow an' his long 
roun' stick, I get to take two things. I choose the fluffy pilla. 
That's mine. 

Suddenly they were nervous. Got to get out quick now. 
Can't wait. We can't wait. And they piled up the goods in 
the yards and set fire to them. They stood and watched 
them burning, and then frantically they loaded up the cars 
and drove away, drove in the dust. The dust hung in the air 
for a long time after the loaded cars had passed. 



Chapter Ten 



WHEN the truck had gone, loaded with imple- 
ments, with heavy tools, with beds and springs, 
with every movable thing that might be sold, 
Tom hung around the place. He mooned into the barn shed, 
into the empty stalls, and he walked into the implement lean- 
to and kicked the refuse that was left, turned a broken 
mower tooth with his foot. He visited places he remembered 
the red bank where the swallows nested, the willow tree 
over the pig pen. Two shoats grunted and squirmed at him 
through the fence, black pigs, sunning and comfortable. And 
then his pilgrimage was over, and he went to sit on the door- 
step where the shade was lately fallen. Behind him Ma moved 
about in the kitchen, washing children's clothes in a bucket; 
and her strong freckled arms dripped soapsuds from the 
elbows. She stopped her rubbing when he sat down. She 
looked at him a long time, and at the back of his head when 
he turned and stared out at the hot sunlight. And then she 
went back to her rubbing. 

She said, "Tom, I hope things is all right in California." 
He turned and looked at her. "What makes you think they 
ain't? "he asked. 

"Well nothing. Seems too nice, kinda. I seen the han'bills 
fellas pass out, an' how much work they is, an' high wages 
an' all; an' I seen in the paper how they want folks to come 

122 



The Grapes of Wrath 123 

an' pick grapes an' oranges an' peaches. That'd be nice work, 
Tom, pickin' peaches. Even if they wouldn't let you eat 
none, you could maybe snitch a little ratty one sometimes. 
An' it'd be nice under the trees, workin' in the shade. I'm 
scared of stuff so nice. I ain't got faith. I'm scared somepin 
ain't so nice about it." 

Tom said, "Don't roust your faith bird-high an' you won't 
do no crawlin' with the worms." 

"I know that's right. That's Scripture, ain't it?" 

"I guess so," said Tom. "I never could keep Scripture 
straight sence I read a book name' The Winning of Barbara 
Worth." 

Ma chuckled lightly and scrounged the clothes in and out 
of the bucket. And she wrung out overalls and shirts, and the 
muscles of her forearms corded out. "Your Pa's pa, he 
quoted Scripture all the time. He got it all roiled up, too. It 
was the Dr. Miles' Almanac he got mixed up. Used to read 
ever' word in that almanac out loud letters from folks that 
couldn't sleep or had lame backs. An' later he'd give them 
people for a lesson, an' he'd say, 'That's a par'ble from Scrip- 
ture.' Your Pa an' Uncle John troubled 'im some about it 
when they'd laugh." She piled wrung clothes like cord wood 
on the table. "They say it's two thousan' miles where we're 
goin'. How far ya think that is, Tom? I seen it on a map, 
big mountains like on a post card, an' we're goin' right 
through 'em. How long ya s'pose it'll take to go that far, 
Tommy?" 

"I dunno," he said. "Two weeks, maybe ten days if we got 
luck. Look, Ma, stop your worryin'. I'm a-gonna tell you 
somepin about bein' in the pen. You can't go thinkin' when 
you're gonna be out. You'd go nuts. You got to think about 
that day, an' then the nex' day, about the ball game Sat'dy. 



124 The Grapes of Wrath 

That's what you got to do. OP timers does that. A new 
young fella gets buttin' his head on the cell door. He's 
thinkin' how long it's gonna be. Whyn't you do that? Jus' 
take ever' day." 

"That's a good way," she said, and she filled up her bucket 
with hot water from the stove, and she put in dirty clothes 
and began punching them down into the soapy water. "Yes, 
that's a good way. But I like to think how nice it's gonna be, 
maybe, in California. Never cold. An' fruit ever'place, an' 
people just bein' in the nicest places, little white houses in 
among the orange trees. I wonder that is, if we all get jobs 
an' all workmaybe we can get one of them little white 
houses. An' the little fellas go out an' pick oranges right off 
the tree. They ain't gonna be able to stand it, they'll get to 
yellin' so." 

Tom watched her working, and his eyes smiled. "It done 
you good jus' thinkin' about it. I knowed a fella from Cali- 
fornia. He didn't talk like us. You'd of knowed he come 
from some far-off place jus' the way he talked. But he says 
they's too many folks lookin' for work right there now. An' 
he says the folks that pick the fruit live in dirty ol' camps an' 
don't hardly get enough to eat. He says wages is low an' hard 
to get any." 

A shadow crossed her face. "Oh, that ain't so," she said. 
"Your father got a han'bill on yella paper, tellin' how they 
need folks to work. They wouldn' go to that trouble if they 
wasn't plenty work. Costs 'em good money to get them han'- 
bills out. What'd they want ta lie for, an' costin' 'em money 
to lie?" 

Tom shook his head. "I don' know, Ma. It's kinda hard to 
think why they done it. Maybe" He looked out at the hot 
sun, shining on the red earth. 



The Grapes of Wrath 125 

"Maybe what?" 

"Maybe it's nice, like you says. Where'd Grampa go? 
Where'd the preacher go?" 

Ma was going out of the house, her arms loaded high with 
the clothes. Tom moved aside to let her pass. "Preacher says 
he's gonna walk aroun'. Grampa's asleep here in the house. 
He conies in here in the day an' lays down sometimes." She 
walked to the line and began to drape pale blue jeans and 
blue shirts and long gray underwear over the wire. 

Behind him Tom heard a shuffling step, and he turned to 
look in. Grampa was emerging from the bedroom, and as in 
the morning, he fumbled with the buttons of his fly. "I 
heerd talkin'," he said. "Sons-a-bitches won't let a ol' fella 
sleep. When you bastards get dry behin' the ears, you'll 
maybe learn to let a ol' fella sleep." His furious fingers man- 
aged to flip open the only two buttons on his fly that had 
been buttoned. And his hand forgot what it had been trying 
to do. His hand reached in and contentedly scratched under 
the testicles. Ma came in with wet hands, and her palms 
puckered and bloated from hot water and soap. 

"Thought you was sleepin'. Here, let me button you up." 
And though he struggled, she held him and buttoned his 
underwear and his shirt and his fly. "You go aroun' a sight," 
she said, and let him go. 

And he spluttered angrily, "Fella's come to a nice to a 
nice when somebody buttons 'em. I want ta be let be to 
button my own pants." 

Ma said playfully, "They don't let people run aroun' with 
their clothes unbutton' in California." 

"They don't, hey! Well, I'll show 'em. They think they're 
gonna show me how to act out there? Why, I'll go aroun' 
a-hangin' out if I wanta!" 



iz6 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma said, "Seems like his language gets worse ever' year. 
Showin' off, I guess.'' 

The old man thrust out his bristly chin, and he regarded 
Ma with his shrewd, mean, merry eyes. "Well, sir," he said, 
"we'll be a-startin' 'fore long now. An', by God, they's 
grapes out there, just a-hangin' over inta the road. Know 
what I'm a-gonna do? I'm gonna pick me a wash tub full a 
grapes, an' I'm gonna set in 'em, an' scrooge aroun', an' let 
the juice run down my pants." 

Tom laughed. "By God, if he lives to be two hunderd you 
never will get Grampa house broke," he said. "You're all set 
on goin', ain't you, Grampa?" 

The old man pulled out a box and sat down heavily on it. 
"Yes, sir," he said. "An' goddamn near time, too. My brother 
went on out there forty years ago. Never did hear nothin' 
about him. Sneaky son-of-a-bitch, he was. Nobody loved 
him. Run off with a single-action Colt of mine. If I ever run 
across him or his kids, if he got any out in California, I'll ask 
'em for that Colt. But if I know 'im, an' he got any kids, he 
cuckoo'd 'em, an' somebody else is a-raisin' 'em. I sure will 
be glad to get out there. Got a feelin' it'll make a new fella 
outa me. Go right to work in the fruit." ' 

Ma nodded. "He means it, too," she said. "Worked right 
up to three months ago, when he throwed his hip out the last 
time." 

"Damn right," said Grampa. 

Tom looked outward from his seat on the doorstep. "Here 
comes that preacher, walkin' aroun' from the back side a the 
barn." 

Ma said, "Curiousest grace I ever heerd, that he give this 
mornin'. Wasn't hardly no grace at all. Jus' talkin', but the 
sound of it was like a grace." 



The Grapes of Wrath 127 

"He's a funny fella," said Tom. "Talks funny all the time. 
Seems like he's talkin' to hisself, though. He ain't tryin' to 
put nothin' over." 

"Watch the look in his eye," said Ma. "He looks baptized. 
Got that look they call lookin' through. He sure looks bap- 
tized. An' a-walkin' with his head down, a-starin' at nothin' 
on the groun'. There is a man that's baptized." And she was 
silent, for Casy had drawn near the door. 

"You gonna get sun-shook, walkin' around like that," said 
Tom. 

Casy said, "Well, yeah maybe." He appealed to them all 
suddenly, to Ma and Grampa and Tom. "I got to get goin' 
west. I got to go. I wonder if I kin go along with you folks." 
And then he stood, embarrassed by his own speech. 

Ma looked to Tom to speak, because he was a man, but 
Tom did not speak. She let him have the chance that was his 
right, and then she said, "Why, we'd be proud to have you. 
'Course I can't say right now; Pa says all the men'll talk to- 
night and figger when we gonna start. I guess maybe we 
better not say till all the men come. John an' Pa an' Noah an' 
Tom an' Grampa an' Al an' Connie, they're gonna figger 
soon's they get back. But if they's room I'm pretty sure we'll 
be proud to have ya." 

The preacher sighed. "I'll go anyways," he said. "Some- 
pin's happening. I went up an' I looked, an' the houses is all 
empty, an' the Ian' is empty, an' this whole country is empty. 
I can't stay here no more. I got to go where the folks is goin'. 
I'll work in the fiel's, an' maybe I'll be happy." 

"An' you ain't gonna preach?" Tom asked. 

"I ain't gonna preach." 

"An' you ain't gonna baptize?" Ma asked. 

"I ain't gonna baptize. I'm gonna work in the fiel's, in the 



iz8 The Grapes of Wrath 

green fiel's, an' I'm gonna be near to folks. I ain't gonna try 
to teach 'em nothin'. I'm gonna try to learn. Gonna learn 
why the folks walks in the grass, gonna hear 'em talk, gonna 
hear 'em sing. Gonna listen to kids eatin' mush. Gonna hear 
husban' an' wife a-poundin' the mattress in the night. Gonna 
eat with 'em an' learn." His eyes were wet and shining. 
"Gonna lay in the grass, open an' honest with anybody that'll 
have me. Gonna cuss an' swear an' hear the poetry of folks 
talkin'. All that's holy, all that's what I didn' understan'. 
All them things is the good things." 

Ma said, "A-men." 

The preacher sat humbly down on the chopping block be- 
side the door. "I wonder what they is for a fella so lonely." 

Tom coughed delicately. "For a fella that don't preach no 
more" he began. 

u Oh, I'm a talker!" said Casy. "No gettin' away from that. 
But I ain't preachin'. Preachin' is tellin' folks stuff. I'm askin' 
'em. That ain't preachin', is it?" 

"I don' know," said Tom. "Preachin's a kinda tone a voice, 
an' preachin's a way a lookin' at things. Preachin's bein' good 
to folks when they wanna kill ya for it. Las' Christmus in 
McAlester, Salvation Army come an' done us good. Three 
solid hours a cornet music, an' we set there. They was bein' 
nice to us. But if one of us tried to walk out, we'd a-drawed 
solitary. That's preachin'. Doin' good to a fella that's down 
an' can't smack ya in the puss for it. No, you ain't no 
preacher. But don't you blow no cornets aroun' here." 

Ma threw some sticks into the stove. "I'll get you a bite 
now, but it ain't much." 

Grampa brought his box outside and sat on it and leaned 
against the wall, and Tom and Casy leaned back against the 



The Grapes of Wrath 129 

house wall. And the shadow of the afternoon moved out 
from the house. 

In the late afternoon the truck came back, bumping and 
rattling through the dust, and there was a layer of dust in 
the bed, and the hood was covered with dust, and the head- 
lights were obscured with a red flour. The sun was setting 
when the truck came back, and the earth was bloody in its 
setting light. Al sat bent over the wheel, proud and serious 
and efficient, and Pa and Uncle John, as befitted the heads of 
the clan, had the honor seats beside the driver. Standing in 
the truck bed, holding onto the bars of the sides, rode the 
others, twelve-year-old Ruthie and ten-year-old Winfield, 
grime-faced and wild, their eyes tired but excited, their 
fingers and the edges of their mouths black and sticky from 
licorice whips, whined out of their father in town. Ruthie, 
dressed in a real dress of pink muslin that came below her 
knees, was a little serious in her young-ladiness. But Winfield 
was still a trifle of a snot-nose, a little of a brooder back of 
the barn, and an inveterate collector and smoker of snipes. 
And whereas Ruthie felt the might, the responsibility, and 
the dignity of her developing breasts, Winfield was kid-wild 
and calfish. Beside them, clinging lightly to the bars, stood 
Rose of Sharon, and she balanced, swaying on the balls of 
her feet, and took up the road shock in her knees and hams. 
For Rose of Share * was pregnant and careful. Her hair, 
braided and wrapped around her head, made an ash-blond 
crown. Her round soft face, which had been voluptuous and 
inviting a few months ago, had already put on the barrier of 
pregnancy, the self-sufficient smile, the knowing perfection- 
look; and her plump bodyfull soft breasts and stomach, 



130 The Grapes of Wrath 

hard hips and buttocks that had swung so freely and provoc- 
atively as to invite slapping and stroking her whole body 
had become demure and serious. Her whole thought and 
action were directed inward on the baby. She balanced on 
her toes now, for the baby's sake. And the world was preg- 
nant to her; she thought only in terms of reproduction and 
of motherhood. Connie, her nineteen-year-old husband, who 
had married a plump, passionate hoyden, was still frightened 
and bewildered at the change in her; for there were no more 
cat fights in bed, biting and scratching with muffled giggles 
and final tears. There was a balanced, careful, wise creature 
who smiled shyly but very firmly at him. Connie was proud 
and fearful of Rose of Sharon. Whenever he could, he put a 
hand on her or stood close, so that his body touched her at 
hip and shoulder, and he felt that this kept a relation that 
might be departing. He was a sharp-faced, lean young man 
of a Texas strain, and his pale blue eyes were sometimes dan- 
gerous and sometimes kindly, and sometimes frightened. He 
was a good hard worker and would make a good husband. 
He drank enough, but not too much; fought when it was re- 
quired of him; and never boasted. He sat quietly in a gather- 
ing and yet managed to be there and to be recognized. 

Had he not been fifty years old, and so one of the natural 
rulers of the family, Uncle John would have preferred not 
to sit in the honor place beside the driver. He would have 
liked Rose of Sharon to sit there. This was impossible, be- 
cause she was young and a woman. But Uncle John sat un- 
easily, his lonely haunted eyes were not at ease, and his thin 
strong body was not relaxed. Nearly all the time the barrier 
of loneliness cut Uncle John off from people and from appe- 
tites. He ate little, drank nothing, and was celibate. But 
underneath, his appetites swelled into pressures until they 



The Grapes of Wrath 131 

broke through. Then he would eat of some craved food until 
he was sick; or he would drink jake or whisky until he was 
a shaken paralytic with red wet eyes; or he would raven with 
lust for some whore in Sallisaw. It was told of him that once 
he went clear to Shawnee and hired three whores in one 
bed, and snorted and rutted on their unresportsive bodies for 
an hour. But when one of his appetites was sated, he was sad 
and ashamed and lonely again. He hid from people, and by 
gifts tried to make up to all people for himself. Then he 
crept into houses and left gum under pillows for children; 
then he cut wood and took no pay. Then he gave away any 
possession he might have: a saddle, a horse, a new pair of 
shoes. One could not talk to him then, for he ran away, or if 
confronted hid within himself and peeked out of frightened 
eyes. The death or his wife, followed by months of being 
alone, had marked him with guilt and shame and had left an 
unbreaking loneliness on him. 

But there were things he could not escape. Being one of 
the heads of the family, he had to govern; and now he had 
to sit on the honor seat beside the driver. 

The three men on the seat were glum as they drove 
toward home over the dusty road. Al, bending over the 
wheel, kept shifting eyes from the road to the instrument 
panel, watching the ammeter needle, which jerked sus- 
piciously, watching the oil gauge and the heat indicator. 
And his mind was cataloguing weak points and suspicious 
things about the car. He listened to the whine, which might 
be the rear end, dry; and he listened to tappets lifting and 
falling. He kept his hand on the gear lever, feeling the turn- 
ing gears through it. And he had let the clutch out against 
the brake to test for slipping clutch plates. He might be a 
musking goat sometimes, but this was his responsibility, this 



132 The Grapes of Wrath 

truck, its running, and its maintenance. If something went 
wrong it would be his fault, and while no one would say it, 
everyone, and Al most of all, would know it was his fault. 
And so he felt it, watched it, and listened to it. And his face 
was serious and responsible. And everyone respected him 
and his responsibility. Even Pa, who was the leader, would 
hold a wrench and take orders from Al. 

They were all tired on the truck. Ruthie and Winfield 
were tired from seeing too much movement, too many faces, 
from fighting to get licence whips; tired from the excite- 
ment of having Uncle John secretly slip gum into their 
pockets. 

And the men in the seat were tired and angry and sad, for 
they had got eighteen dollars for every movable thing from 
the farm: the horses, the wagon, the implements, and all the 
furniture from the house. Eighteen dollars. They had as- 
sailed the buyer, argued; but they were routed when his 
interest seemed to flag and he had told them he didn't want 
the stuff at any price. Then they were beaten, believed him, 
and took two dollars less than he had first offered. And now 
they were weary and frightened because they had gone 
against a system they did not understand and it had beaten 
them. They knew the team and the wagon were worth much 
more. They knew the buyer man would get much more, but 
they didn't know how to do it. Merchandising was a secret 
to them. 

Al, his eyes darting from road to panel board, said, "That 
fella, he ain't a local fella. Didn' talk like a local fella. Clothes 
was different, too." 

And Pa explained, "When I was in the hardware store I 
talked to some men I know. They say there's fellas comin' 
in jus' to buy up the stuff us fellas got to sell when we get 



The Grapes of Wrath 133 

out. They say these new fellas is cleaning up. But there ain't 
nothin' we can do about it. Maybe Tommy should of went. 
Maybe he could of did better." 

John said, "But the fella wasn't gonna take it at all. We 
couldn' haul it back." 

"These men I know told about that," said Pa. "Said the 
buyer fellas always done that. Scairt folks that way. We jus' 
don' know how to go about stuff like that. Ma's gonna be dis- 
appointed. She'll be mad an' disappointed." 

Al said, "When ya think we're gonna go, Pa?" 

"I dunno. We'll talk her over tonight an' decide. I'm sure 
glad Tom's back. That makes me feel good. Tom's a good 
boy." 

Al said, "Pa, some fellas was talkin' about Tom, an' they 
says he's parole'. An' they says that means he can't go outside 
the State, or if he goes, an' they catch him, they send 'im 
back for three years." 

Pa looked startled. "They said that? Seem like fellas that 
knowed? Not jus' blowin' off?" 

"I don' know," said Al. "They was just a-talkin' there, an' 
I didn' let on he's my brother. I jus' stood an' took it in." 

Pa said, "Jesus Christ, I hope that ain't true! We need 
Tom. I'll ask 'im about that. We got trouble enough without 
they chase the hell out of us. I hope it ain't true. We got to 
talk that out in the open." 

Uncle John said, "Tom, he'll know." 

They fell silent while the truck battered along. The en- 
gine was noisy, full of little clashings, and the brake rods 
banged. There was a wooden creaking from the wheels, and 
a thin jet of steam escaped through a hole in the top of the 
radiator cap. The truck pulled a high whirling column of 
red dust behind it. They rumbled up the last little rise while 



134 The Grapes of Wrath 

the sun was still half-face above the horizon, and they bore 
down on the house as it disappeared. The brakes squealed 
when they stopped, and the sound printed in Al's head no 
lining left. 

Ruthie and Winfield climbed yelling over the side walls 
and dropped to the ground. They shouted, "Where is he? 
Where's Tom?" And then they saw him standing beside the 
door, and they stopped, embarrassed, and walked slowly 
toward him and looked shyly at him. 

And when he said, "Hello, how you kids doin'?" they re- 
plied softly, "Hello! All right." And they stood apart and 
watched him secretly, the great brother who had killed a 
man and been in prison. They remembered how they had 
played prison in the chicken coop and fought for the right 
to be prisoner. 

Connie Rivers lifted the high tail-gate out of the truck and 
got down and helped Rose of Sharon to the ground; and she 
accepted it nobly, smiling her wise, self-satisfied smile, 
mouth tipped at the corners a little fatuously. 

Tom said, "Why, it's Rosasharn. I didn' know you was 
comin' with them." 

"We was walkin'," she said. "The truck come by an' 
picked us up." And then she said, "This is Connie, my hus- 
band." And she was grand, saying it. 

The two shook hands, sizing each other up, looking 
deeply into each other; and in a moment each was satisfied, 
and Tom said, "Well, I see you been busy." 

She looked down. "You do not see, not yet." 

"Ma toP me. When's it gonna be?" 

"Oh, not for a long time! Not till nex' winter." 

Tom laughed. "Gonna get 'im bore in a orange ranch, 



The Grapes of Wrath 135 

huh? In one a them white houses with orange trees all 



aroun'." 



Rose of Sharon felt her stomach with both her hands. 
"You do not see," she said, and she smiled her complacent 
smile and went into the house. The evening was hot, and the 
thrust of light still flowed up from the western horizon. And 
without any signal the family gathered by the truck, and the 
congress, the family government, went into session. 

The film of evening light made the red earth lucent, so 
that its dimensions were deepened, so that a stone, a post, a 
building had greater depth and more solidity than in the day- 
time light-; and these objects were curiously more individual 
a post was more essentially a post, set off from the earth it 
stood in and the field of corn it stood out against. And plants 
were individuals, not the mass of crop; and the ragged wil- 
low tree was itself, standing free of all other willow trees. 
The earth contributed a light to the evening. The front of 
the gray, paintless house, facing the west, was luminous as 
the moon is. The gray dusty truck, in the yard before the 
door, stood out magically in this light, in the overdrawn per- 
spective of a stereopticon. 

The people too were changed in the evening, quieted. 
They seemed to be a part of an organization of the uncon- 
scious. They obeyed impulses which registered only faintly 
in their thinking minds. Their eyes were inward and quiet, 
and their eyes, too, were lucent in the evening, lucent in 
dusty faces. 

The family met at the most important place, near the 
truck. The house was dead, and the fields were dead; but 
this truck was the active thing, the living principle. The 
ancient Hudson, with bent and scarred radiator screen, with 



136 The Grapes of Wrath 

grease in dusty globules at the worn edges of every moving 
part, with hub caps gone and caps of red dust in their places 
this was the new hearth, the living center of the family; 
half passenger car and half truck, high-sided and clumsy. 

Pa walked around the truck, looking at it, and then he 
squatted down in the dust and found a stick to draw with. 
One foot was flat to the ground, the other rested on the ball 
and slightly back, so that one knee was higher than the other. 
Left forearm rested on the lower, left, knee; the right elbow 
on the right knee, and the right fist cupped for the chin. Pa 
squatted there, looking at the truck, his chin in his cupped 
fist. And Uncle John moved toward him and squatted down 
beside him. Their eyes were brooding. Grampa came out of 
the house and saw the two squatting together, and he jerked 
over and sat on the running board of the truck, facing them. 
That was the nucleus. Tom and Connie and Noah strolled in 
and squatted, and the line was a half-circle with Grampa in 
the opening. And then Ma came out of the house, and 
Granma with her, and Rose of Sharon behind, walking 
daintily. They took their places behind the squatting men; 
they stood up and put their hands on their hips. And the 
children, Ruthie and Winfield, hopped from foot to foot be- 
side the women; the children squidged their toes in the red 
dust, but they made no sound. Only the preacher was not 
there. He, out of delicacy, was sitting on the ground behind 
the house. He was a good preacher and knew his people. 

The evening light grew softer, and for a while the family 
sat and stood silently. Then Pa, speaking to no one, but to 
the group, made his report. "Got skinned on the stuff we 
sold. The fella knowed we couldn't wait. Got eighteen dol- 
lars only." 



The Grapes of Wrath 137 

Ma stirred restively, but she held her peace. 

Noah, the oldest son, asked, "How much, all added up, we 
got?" 

Pa drew figures in the dust and mumbled to himself for a 
moment. "Hunderd fifty-four," he said. "But Al here says 
we gonna need better tires. Says these here won't last." 

This was Al's first participation in the conference. Always 
he had stood behind with the women before. And now he 
made his report solemnly. "She's old an' she's ornery," he 
said gravely. "I gave the whole thing a good goin'-over 'fore 
we bought her. Didn' listen to the fella talkin' what a hell 
of a bargain she was. Stuck my finger in the differential and 
they wasn't no sawdust. Opened the gear box an' they wasn't 
no sawdust. Test' her clutch an' rolled her wheels for line. 
Went under her an' her frame ain't splayed none. She never 
been rolled. Seen they was a cracked cell in her battery an' 
made the fella put in a good one. The tires ain't worth a 
damn, but they're a good size. Easy to get. She'll ride like a 
bull calf, but she ain't shootin' no oil. Reason I says buy her is 
she was a pop'lar car. Wreckin' yards is full a Hudson Super- 
Sixes, an' you can buy parts cheap. Could a got a bigger, 
fancier car for the same money, but parts too hard to get, an' 
too dear. That's how I figgered her anyways." The last was 
his submission to the family. He stopped speaking and waited 
for their opinions. 

Grampa was still the titular head, but he no longer ruled. 
His position was honorary and a matter of custom. But he 
did have the right of first comment, no matter how silly his 
old mind might be. And the squatting men and the standing 
women waited for him. "You're all right, Al," Grampa said. 
"I was a squirt jus' like you, a-fartin' aroun' like a dog-wolf. 



138 The Grapes of Wrath 

But when they was a job, I done it. You've growed up 
good." He finished in the tone of a benediction, and Al red- 
dened a little with pleasure. 

Pa said, "Sounds right-side-up to me. If it was horses we 
wouldn' have to put the blame on Al. But Al's the on'y auto- 
mobile fella here." 

Tom said, "I know some. Worked some in McAlester. APs 
right. He done good." And now Al was rosy with the com- 
pliment. Tom went on, "I'd like to say well, that preacher 
he wants to go along." He was silent. His words lay in the 
group, and the group was silent. "He's a nice fella," Tom 
added. "We've knowed him a long time. Talks a little wild 
sometimes, but he talks sensible." And he relinquished the 
proposal to the family. 

The light was going gradually. Ma left the group and 
went into the house, and the iron clang of the stove came 
from the house. In a moment she walked back to the brood- 
ing council. 

Grampa said, "They was two ways a thinkin'. Some folks 
use' ta figger that a preacher was poison luck." 

Tom said, "This fella says he ain't a preacher no more." 

Grampa waved his hand back and forth. "Once a fella's a 
preacher, he's always a preacher. That's sornepin you can't 
get shut of. They was some folks figgered it was a good re- 
spectable thing to have a preacher along. Ef somebody died, 
preacher buried 'em. Weddin' come due, or overdue, an' 
there's your preacher. Baby come, an' you got a christener 
right under the roof. Me, I always said they was preachers 
art preachers. Got to pick 'em. I kinda like this fella. He ain't 
stiff." 

Pa dug his stick into the dust and rolled it between his 
fingers so that it bored a little hole. "They's more to this than 



The Grapes of Wrath 139 

is he lucky, or is he a nice fella," Pa sJd. "We got to figger 
close. It's a sad thing to figger close. Le s see, now. There's 
Grampa an' Granma that's two. An' me an' John an' Ma 
that's five. An' Noah an' Tommy an' Al that's eight. Rosa- 
sharn an' Connie is ten, an' Ruthie an' Winfiel' is twelve. We 
got to take the dogs 'cause what'll we do else? Can't shoot a 
good dog, an' there ain't nobody to give 'em to. An' that's 
fourteen." 

"Not countin' what chickens is left, an' two pigs," said 
Noah. 

Pa said, "I aim to get those pigs salted down to eat on the 
way. We gonna need meat. Carry the salt kegs right with us. 
But I'm wonderin' if we can all ride, an' the preacher too. 
An' kin we feed a extra mouth?" Without turning his head 
he asked, "Kin we, A/la?" 

Ma cleared her throat. "It ain't kin we? It's will we?" she 
said firmly. "As far as 'kin,' we can't do nothin', not go to 
California or nothin'; but as far as 'will,' why, we'll do what 
we will. An' as far as 'will' it's a long time our folks been 
here and east before, an' I never heerd tell of no Joads or no 
Hazletts, neither, ever refusin' food an' shelter or a lift on the 
road to anybody that asked. They's been mean Joads, but 
never that mean." 

Pa broke in, "But s'pose there just ain't room?" He had 
twisted his neck to look up at her, and he was ashamed. Her 
tone had made him ashamed. "S'pose we jus' can't all get in 
the truck?" 

"There ain't room now," she said. "There ain't room for 
more'n six, an' twelve is goin' sure. One more ain't gonna 
hurt; an' a man, strong an' healthy, ain't never no burden. 
An' any time when we got two pigs an' over a hunderd dol- 
lars, an' we wonderin' if we kin feed a fella" She stopped, 



140 The Grapes of Wrath 

and Pa turned back, and his spirit was raw from the whip- 

ping ' 

Granma said, "A preacher is a nice thing to be with us. He 

give a nice grace this morning." 

Pa looked at the face of each one for dissent, and then he 
said, "Want to call 'im over, Tommy? If he's goin', he ought 
ta be here." 

Tom got up from his hams and went toward the house, 
calling, "Casy-oh,Casy!" 

A muffled voice replied from behind the house. Tom 
walked to the corner and saw the preacher sitting back 
against the wall, looking at the flashing evening star in the 
light sky. "Calling me?" Casy asked. 

"Yeah. We think long as you're goin' with us, you ought 
to be over with us, helpin' to figger things out." 

Casy got to his feet. He knew the government of families, 
and he knew he had been taken into the family. Indeed his 
position was eminent, for Uncle John moved sideways, leav- 
ing space between Pa and himself for the preacher. Casy 
squatted down like the others, facing Grampa enthroned on 
the running board. 

Ma went to the house again. There was a screech of a 
lantern hood and the yellow light flashed up in the dark 
kitchen. When she lifted the lid of the big pot, the smell of 
boiling side-meat and beet greens came out the door. They 
waited for her to come back across the darkening yard, for 
Ma was powerful in the group. 

Pa said, "We got to figger when to start. Sooner the better. 
What we got to do 'fore we go is get them pigs slaughtered 
an' in salt, an' pack our stuff an' go. Quicker the better, 



now." 



The Grapes of Wrath 141 

Noah agreed, "If we pitch in, we kin get ready tomorrow, 
an' we kin go bright the nex' day." 

Uncle John objected, "Can't chill no meat in the heat a 
the day. Wrong time a year for slaughterin'. Meat'll be sof 
if it don' chill." 

"Well, le's do her tonight. She'll chill tonight some. Much 
as she's gonna. After we eat, le's get her done. Got salt?" 

Ma said, "Yes. Got plenty salt. Got two nice kegs, too." 

"Well, le's get her done, then," said Tom. 

Grampa began to scrabble about, trying to get a purchase 
to arise. "Gettin' dark," he said. "I'm gettin' hungry. Come 
time we get to California I'll have a big bunch a grapes in my 
han' all the time, a-nibblin' off it all the time, by God!" He 
got up, and the men arose. 

Ruthie and Winfield hopped excitedly about in the dust, 
like crazy things. Ruthie whispered hoarsely to Winfield, 
"Killin' pigs and goin' to California. Killin' pigs and goin' 
all the same time." 

And Winfield was reduced to madness. He stuck his finger 
against his throat, made a horrible face, and wobbled about, 
weakly shrilling, "I'm a ol' pig. Look! I'm a ol' pig. Look at 
the blood, Ruthie!" And he staggered and sank to the 
ground, and waved arms and legs weakly. 

But Ruthie was older, and she knew the tremendousness 
of the time. "And goin' to California," she said again. And 
she knew this was the great time in her life so far. 

The adults moved toward the lighted kitchen through the 
deep dusk, and Ma served them greens and side-meat in tin 
plates. But before Ma ate, she put the big round wash tub on 
the stove and started the fire to roaring. She carried buckets 
of water until the tub was full, and then around the tub she 



142 The Grapes of Wrath 

clustered the buckets, full of water. The kitchen became a 
swamp of heat, and the family ate hurriedly, and went out 
to sit on the doorstep until the water should get hot. They 
sat looking out at the dark, at the square of light the kitchen 
lantern threw on the ground outside the door, with a 
hunched shadow of Grampa in the middle of it. Noah picked 
his teeth thoroughly with a broom straw. Ma and Rose of 
Sharon washed up the dishes and piled them on the table. 

And then, all of a sudden, the family began to function. 
Pa got up and lighted another lantern. Noah, from a box in 
the kitchen, brought out the bow-bladed butchering knife 
and whetted it on a worn little carborundum stone. And he 
laid the scraper on the chopping block, and the knife beside 
it. Pa brought two sturdy sticks, each three feet long, and 
pointed the ends with the ax, and he tied strong ropes, 
double half-hitched, to the middle of the sticks. 

He grumbled, "Shouldn't of sold those singletrees all of 
'em." 

The water in the pots steamed and rolled. 

Noah asked, "Gonna take the water down there or bring 
the pigs up here?" 

"Pigs up here,' 7 said Pa. "You can't spill a pig and scald 
yourself like you can hot water. Water about ready?" 

"Jus' about," said Ma. 

"Aw right. Noah, you an' Tom an' Al come along. I'll 
carry the light. We'll slaughter down there an' bring 'em up 
here." 

Noah took his knife, and Al the ax, and the four men 
moved down on the sty, their legs flickering in the lantern 
light. Ruthie and Winfield skittered along, hopping over the 
ground. At the sty Pa leaned over the fence, holding the lan- 
tern. The sleepy young pigs struggled to their feet, grunting 



The Grapes of Wrath 143 

suspiciously. Uncle John and the preacher walked down to 
help. 

"All right," said Pa. "Stick 'em, an' we'll run 'em up and 
bleed an' scald at the house." Noah and Tom stepped over 
the fence. They slaughtered quickly and efficiently. Tom 
struck twice with the blunt head of the ax; and Noah, leaning 
over the felled pigs, found the great artery with his curving 
knife and released the pulsing streams of blood. Then over 
the fence with the squealing pigs. The preacher and Uncle 
John dragged one by the hind legs, and Tom and Noah the 
other. Pa walked along with the lantern, and the black blood 
made two trails in the dust. 

At the house, Noah slipped his knife between tendon and 
bone of the hind legs; the pointed sticks held the legs apart, 
and the carcasses were hung from the two-by-four rafters 
that stuck out from the house. Then the men carried the 
boiling water and poured it over the black bodies. Noah slit 
the bodies from end to end and dropped the entrails out on 
the ground. Pa sharpened two more sticks to hold the bodies 
open to the air, while Tom with the scrubber and Ma with 
a dull knife scraped the skins to take out the bristles. Al 
brought a bucket and shoveled the entrails into it, and 
dumped them on the ground away from the house, and two 
cats followed him, mewing loudly, and the dogs followed 
him, growling lightly at the cats. 

Pa sat on the doorstep and looked at the pigs hanging in the 
lantern light. The scraping was done now, and only a few 
drops of blood continued to fall from the carcasses into the 
black pool on the ground. Pa got up and went to the pigs 
and felt them with his hand, and then he sat down again. 
Granma and Grampa went toward the barn to sleep, and 
Grampa carried a candle lantern in his hand. The rest of the 



144 The Grapes of Wrath 

family sat quietly about the doorstep, Connie and Al and 
Tom on the ground, leaning their backs against the house 
wall, Uncle John on a box, Pa in the doorway. Only Ma and 
Rose of Sharon continued to move about. Ruthie and Win- 
field were sleepy now, but fighting it off. They quarreled 
sleepily out in the darkness. Noah and the preacher squatted 
side by side, facing the house. Pa scratched himself nerv- 
ously, and took off his hat and ran his fingers through his 
hair. "Tomorra we'll get that pork salted early in the morn- 
ing, an' then we'll get the truck loaded, all but the beds, an' 
nex' morning off we'll go. Hardly is a day's work in all that," 
he said uneasily. 

Tom broke in, "We'll be moonin' aroun' all day, lookin' 
for somepin to do." The group stirred uneasily. "We could 
get ready by daylight an' go," Tom suggested. Pa rubbed his 
knee with his hand. And the restiveness spread to all of them. 

Noah said, "Prob'ly wouldn' hurt that meat to git her 
right down in salt. Cut her up, she'd cool quicker anyways." 

It was Uncle John who broke over the edge, his pressures 
too great. "What we hangin' aroun' for? I want to get shut 
of this. Now we're goin', why don't we go?" 

And the revulsion spread to the rest. "Whyn't we go? Get 
sleep on the way." And a sense of hurry crept into them. 

Pa said, "They say it's two thousan' miles. That's a hell of 
a long ways. We oughta go. Noah, you an' me can get that 
meat cut up an' we can put all the stuff in the truck." 

Ma put her head out of the door. "How about if we forgit 
somepin, not seein' it in the dark?" 

"We could look 'round after daylight," said Noah. They 
sat still then, thinking about it. But in a moment Noah got 
up and began to sharpen the bow-bladed knife on his little 
worn stone. "Ma," he said, "git that table cleared." And he 



The Grapes of Wrath 145 

stepped to a pig, cut a line down one side of the backbone 
and began peeling the meat forward, off the ribs. 

Pa stood up excitedly. u We got to get the stuff together," 
he said. "Come on, you fellas." 

Now that they were committed to going, the hurry in- 
fected all of them. Noah carried the slabs of meat into the 
kitchen and cut it into small salting blocks, and Ma patted the 
coarse salt in, laid it piece by piece in the kegs, careful that 
no two pieces touched each other. She laid the slabs like 
bricks, and pounded salt in the spaces. And Noah cut up the 
side-meat and he cut up the legs. Ma kept her fire going, and 
as Noah cleaned the ribs and the spines and leg bones of all 
the meat he could, she put them in the oven to roast for 
gnawing purposes. 

In the yard and in the barn the circles of lantern light 
moved about, and the men brought together all the things to 
be taken, and piled them by the truck. Rose of Sharon 
brought out all the clothes the family possessed: the over- 
alls, the thick-soled shoes, the rubber boots, the worn best 
suits, the sweaters and sheepskin coats. And she packed these 
tightly into a wooden box and got into the box and tramped 
them down. And then she brought out the print dresses and 
shawls, the black cotton stockings and the children's clothes 
small overalls and cheap print dresses and she put these in 
the box and tramped them down. 

Tom went to the tool shed and brought what tools were 
left to go, a hand saw and a set of wrenches, a hammer and a 
box of assorted nails, a pair of pliers and a flat file and a set 
of rat-tail files. 

And Rose of Sharon brought out the big piece of tar- 
paulin and spread it on the ground behind the truck. She 
struggled through the door with the mattresses, three double 



146 The Grapes of Wrath 

ones and a single. She piled them on the tarpaulin and 

brought arm-loads of folded ragged blankets and piled them 

up. 

Ma and Noah worked busily at the carcasses* and the smell 
of roasting pork bones came from the stove. The children had 
fallen by the way in the late night. Winfield lay curled up in 
the dust outside the door; and Ruthie, sitting on a box in 
the kitchen where she had gone to watch the butchering, had 
dropped her head back against the wall. She breathed easily 
in her sleep, and her lips were parted over her teeth. 

Tom finished with the tools and came into the kitchen 
with his lantern, and the preacher followed him. "God in a 
buckboard," Tom said, "smell that meat! An' listen to her 
crackle." 

Ma laid the bricks of meat in a keg and poured salt around 
and over them and covered the layer with salt and patted it 
down. She looked up at Tom and smiled a little at him, but 
her eyes were serious and tired. "Be nice to have pork bones 
for breakfas'," she said. 

The preacher stepped beside her. "Leave me salt down 
this meat," he said. "I can do it. There's other stuff for you 
to do." 

She stopped her work then and inspected him oddly, as 
though he suggested a curious thing. And her hands were 
crusted with salt, pink with fluid from the fresh pork. "It's 
women's work," she said finally. 

"It's all work," the preacher replied. "They's too much of 
it to split it up to men's or women's work. You got stuff to 
do. Leave me salt the meat." 

Still for a moment she stared at him, and then she poured 
water from a bucket into the tin wash basin and she washed 



The Grapes of Wrath 147 

her hands. The preacher took up the blocks of pork and 
patted on the salt while she watched him. And he laid them 
in the kegs as she had. Only when he had finished a layer and 
covered it carefully and patted down the salt was she satis- 
fied. She dried her bleached and bloated hands. 

Tom said, "Ma, what stuff w r e gonna take from here?" 
She looked quickly about the kitchen. "The bucket," she 
said. "All the stuff to eat with: plates an' the cups, the spoons 
an' knives an' forks. Put all them in that drawer, an' take the 
drawer. The big fry pan an' the big stew kettle, the coffee 
pot. When it gets cool, take the rack outa the oven. That's 
good over a fire. I'd like to take the wash tub, but I guess 
there ain't room. I'll wash clothes in the bucket. Don't do no 
good to take little stuff. You can cook little stuff in a big 
kettle, but you can't cook big stuff in a little pot. Take the 
bread pans, all of 'em. They fit down inside each other." 
She stood and looked about the kitchen. "You jus' take that 
stuff I tol' you, Tom. I'll fix up the rest, the big can a pepper 
an' the salt an' the nutmeg an' the grater. I'll take all that 
stuff jus' at the last." She picked up a lantern and walked 
heavily into the bedroom, and her bare feet made no sound 
on the floor. 

The preacher said, "She looks tar'd." 
"Women's always tar'd," said Tom. "That's just the way 
women is, 'cept at meetin' once an' again." 

"Yeah, but tar'der'n that. Real tar'd, like she's sick-tar'd." 
Ma was just through the door, and she heard his words. 
Slowly her relaxed face tightened, and the lines disappeared 
from the taut muscular face. Her eyes sharpened and her 
shoulders straightened. She glanced about the stripped room. 
Nothing was left in it except trash. The mattresses which had 



148 The Grapes of Wrath 

been on the floor were gone. The bureaus were sold. On the 
floor lay a broken comb, an empty talcum powder can, and 
a few dust mice. Ma set her lantern on the floor. She reached 
behind one of the boxes that had served as chairs and brought 
out a stationery box, old and soiled and cracked at the cor- 
ners. She sat down and opened the box. Inside were letters, 
clippings, photographs, a pair of earrings, a little gold signet 
ring, and a watch chain braided of hair and tipped with gold 
swivels. She touched the letters with her fingers, touched 
them lightly, and she smoothed a newspaper clipping on 
which there was an account of Tom's trial. For a long time 
she held the box, looking over it, and her fingers disturbed 
the letters and then lined them up again. She bit her lower 
lip, thinking, remembering. And at last she made up her 
mind. She picked out the ring, the watch charm, the earrings, 
dug under the pile and found one gold cuff link. She took a 
letter from an envelope and dropped the trinkets in the en- 
velope. She folded the envelope over and put it in her dress 
pocket. Then gently and tenderly she closed the box and 
smoothed the top carefully with her fingers. Her lips parted. 
And then she stood up, took her lantern, and went back into 
the kitchen. She lifted the stove lid and laid the box gently 
among the coals. Quickly the heat browned the paper. A 
flame licked up and over the box. She replaced the stove lid 
and instantly the fire sighed up and breathed over the box. 

Out in the dark yard, working in the lantern light, Pa and 
Al loaded the truck. Tools on the bottom, but handy to 
reach in case of a breakdown. Boxes of clothes next, and 
kitchen utensils in a gunny sack; cutlery and dishes in their 
box. Then the gallon bucket tied on behind. They made the 



The Grapes of Wrath 149 

bottom of the load as even as possible, and filled the spaces 
between boxes with rolled blankets. Then over the top they 
laid the mattresses, filling the truck in level. And last they 
spread the big tarpaulin over the load and Al made holes in 
the edge, two feet apart, and inserted little ropes, and tied 
it down to the side-bars of the truck. 

u Now, if it rains," he said, "we'll tie it to the bar above, 
an' the folks can get underneath, out of the wet. Up front 
we'll be dry enough." 

And Pa applauded. "That's a good idear." 

"That ain't all," Al said. "First chance I git I'm gonna fin' 
a long plank an' make a ridge pole, an' put the tarp over that. 
An' then it'll be covered in, an' the folks'll be outa the sun, 
too." 

And Pa agreed, "That's a good idear. Whyn't you think a 
that before?" 

"I ain't had time," said Al. 

"Ain't had time? Why, Al, you had time to coyote all 
over the country. God knows where you been this las' two 
weeks." 

"Stuff a fella got to do when he's leavin' the country," said 
Al. And then he lost some of his assurance. "Pa," he asked. 
"Yougladtobegoin',Pa?" 

"Huh? Well sure. Leastwise yeah. We had hard times 
here. 'Course it'll be all different out there plenty work, an' 
ever'thing nice an' green, an' little white houses an' oranges 
growin' aroun'." 

"Is it all oranges ever'where?" 

"Well, maybe not ever'where, but plenty places." 

The first gray of daylight began in the sky. And the work 
was done the kegs of pork ready, the chicken coop ready to 



150 The Grapes of Wrath 

go on top. Ma opened the oven and took out the pile of 
roasted bones, crisp and brown, with plenty of gnawing 
meat left. Ruthie half awakened, and slipped down from the 
box, and slept again. But the adults stood around the door, 
shivering a little and gnawing at the crisp pork. 

"Guess we oughta wake up Granma an' Grampa," Tom 
said. "Gettin' along on toward day." 

Ma said, "Kinda hate to, till the las' minute. They need the 
sleep. Ruthie an' Winfield ain't hardly got no real rest 
neither." 

"Well, they kin all sleep on top a the load," said Pa. "It'll 
be nice an' comf table there." 

Suddenly the dogs started up from the dust and listened. 
And then, with a roar, went barking off into the darkness. 
"Now what in hell is that?" Pa demanded. In a moment they 
heard a voice speaking reassuringly to the barking dogs and 
the barking lost its fierceness. Then footsteps, and a man ap- 
proached. It was Muley Graves, his hat pulled low. 

He came near timidly. "Morning, folks," he said. 

"Why, Muley." Pa waved the ham bone he held. "Step in 
an' get some pork for yourself, Muley." 

"Well, no," said Muley. "I ain't hungry, exactly." 

"Oh, get it, Muley, get it. Here!" And Pa stepped into the 
house and brought out a hand of spareribs. 

"I wasn't aiming to eat none a your stuff," he said. "I was 
jus' walkin' aroun', an' I thought how you'd be goin', an' 
I'd maybe say good-by." 

"Goin' in a little while now," said Pa, "You'd a missed us 
if you'd come an hour later. All packed upsee?" 

"All packed up." Muley looked at the loaded truck. 
"Sometimes I wisht I'd go an' fin' my folks." 

Ma asked, "Did vou hear from 'em out in California?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 151 

"No," said Muley, "I ain't heard. But I ain't been to look in 
the post office. I oughta go in sometimes." 

Pa said, "Al, go down, wake up Granma, Grampa. Tell 'em 
to come an' eat. We're goin' before long." And as Al saun- 
tered toward the barn, "Muley, ya wanta squeeze in with us 
an' go? We'd try to make room for ya." 

Muley took a bite of meat from the edge of a rib bone and 
chewed it. "Sometimes I think I might. But I know I won't," 
he said. "I know perfectly well the las' minute I'd run an' 
hide like a damn oF graveyard ghos'." 

Noah said, "You gonna die out in the fiel' some day, 
Muley." 

"I know. I thought about that. Sometimes it seems pretty 
lonely, an* sometimes it seems all right, an' sometimes it 
seems good. It don't make no difference. But if ya come 
acrost my folks that's really what I come to say if ya come 
on any my folks in California, tell 'em I'm well. Tell 'em I'm 
doin' all right. Don't let on I'm livin' this way. Tell 'em I'll 
come to 'em soon's I git the money." 

Ma asked, "An' will ya?" 

"No," Muley said softly. "No, I won't. I can't go away. I 
got to stay now. Time back I might of went. But not now. 
Fella gits to thinkin', an' he gits to knowin'. I ain't never 
goin'." 

The light of the dawn was a little sharper now. It paled 
the lanterns a little. Al came back with Grampa struggling 
and limping by his side. "He wasn't sleepin'," Al said. "He 
was settin' out back of the barn. They's somepin wrong with 



'im." 



Grampa's eyes had dulled, and there was none of the old 
meanness in them. "Ain't nothin' the matter with me," he 
said. "I jus' ain't a-goin'." 



152 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Not goin'?" Pa demanded. "What you mean you ain't 
a-goin'? Why, here we're all packed up, ready. We got to 
go. We got no place to stay." 

"I ain't sayin' for you to stay," said Grampa. "You go 
right on along. Me I'm stayin'. I give her a goin'-over all 
night mos'ly. This here's my country. I b'long here. An' I 
don't give a goddamn if they's oranges an' grapes crowdin' 
a fella outa bed even. I ain't a-goin'. This country ain't no 
good, but it's my country. No, you all go ahead. I'll jus' stay 
right here where I b'long." 

They crowded near to him. Pa said, "You can't, Grampa. 
This here Ian' is goin' under the tractors. Who'd cook for 
you? How'd you live? You can't stay here. Why, with no- 
body to take care of you, you'd starve." 

Grampa cried, "Goddamn it, I'm a oP man, but I can still 
take care a myself. How's Muley here get along? I can get 
along as good as him. I tell ya I ain't goin', an* ya can lump 
it. Take Granma with ya if ya want, but ya ain't takin' me, 
an' that's the end of it." 

Pa said helplessly, "Now listen to me, Grampa. Jus' listen 
to me, jus' a minute." 

"Ain't a-gonna listen. I tol' ya what I'm a-gonna do." 

Tom touched his father on the shoulder. "Pa, come in the 
house. I wanta tell ya somepin." And as they moved toward 
the house, he called, "Ma come here a minute, will ya?" 

In the kitchen one lantern burned and the plate of pork 
bones was still piled high. Tom said, "Listen, I know Grampa 
got the right to say he ain't goin', but he can't stay. We 
know that." 

"Sure he can't stay," said Pa. 

"Well, look. If we got to catch him an* tie him down, 
we li'ble to hurt him, an' he'll git so mad he'll hurt himself. 



The Grapes of Wrath 153 

Now we can't argue with him. If we could get him drunk 
it'd be all right. You got any whisky?" 

"No," said Pa. "There ain't a drop a' whisky in the house. 
An' John got no whisky. He never has none when he ain't 
drinkin'." 

Ma said, "Tom, I got a half a bottle soothin' sirup I got 
for WinfieF when he had them earaches. Think that might 
work? Use ta put Winfiel' ta sleep when his earache was 
bad." 

"Might," said Tom. "Get it, Ma. We'll give her a try 
anyways." 

"I throwed it out on the trash pile," said Ma. She took the 
lantern and went out, and in a moment she came back with a 
bottle half full of black medicine. 

Tom took it from her and tasted it. "Don' taste bad," he 
said. "Make up a cup a black coffee, good an' strong. Le's 
see says one teaspoon. Better put in a lot, coupla table- 
spoons." 

Ma opened the stove and put a kettle inside, down next to 
the coals, and she measured water and coffee into it. "Have 
to give it to 'im in a can," she said. "We got the cups all 
packed." 

Tom and his father went back outside. "Fella got a right 
to say what he's gonna do. Say, who's eatin' spareribs?" said 
Grampa. 

"We've et," said Tom. "Ma's fixin' you a cup a coffee an' 
some pork." 

He went into the house, and he drank his coffee and ate 
his pork. The group outside in the growing dawn watched 
him quietly, through the door. They saw him yawn and 
sway, and they saw him put his arms on the table and rest 
his head on his arms and go to sleep. 



154 ^ e Grapes of Wrath 

"He was tar'd anyways," said Tom. "Leave him be." 
Now they were ready. Granma, giddy and vague, saying, 
"What's all this? What you doin' now, so early?" But she 
was dressed and agreeable. And Ruthie and Winfield were 
awake, but quiet with the pressure of tiredness and still half 
dreaming. The light was sifting rapidly over the land. And 
the movement of the family stopped. They stood about, re- 
luctant to make the first active move to go. They were afraid, 
now that the time had come afraid in the same way Grampa 
was afraid. They saw the shed take shape against the light, 
and they saw the lanterns pale until they no longer cast their 
circles of yellow light. The stars went out, few by few, 
toward the west. And still the family stood about like dream 
walkers, their eyes focused panoramically, seeing no detail, 
but the whole dawn, the whole land, the whole texture of 
the country at once. 

Only Muley Graves prowled about restlessly, looking 
through the bars into the truck, thumping the spare tires 
hung on the back of the truck. And at last Muley approached 
Tom. "You goin' over the State line?" he asked. "You gonna 
break your parole?" 

And Tom shook himself free of the numbness. "Jesus 
Christ, it's near sunrise," he said loudly. "We got to get 
goin'." And the others came out of their numbness and 
moved toward the truck. 

"Come on," Tom said. "Le's get Grampa on." Pa and 
Uncle John and Tom and Al went into the kitchen where 
Grampa slept, his forehead down on his arms, and a line of 
drying coffee on the table. They took him under the elbows 
and lifted him to his feet, and he grumbled and cursed 
thickly, like a drunken man. Out the door they boosted him, 
and when they came to the truck Tom and Al climbed up, 



The Grapes of Wrath 155 

and, leaning over, hooked their hands under his arms and 
lifted him gently up, and laid him on top of the load. Al un- 
tied the tarpaulin, and they rolled him under and put a box 
under the tarp beside him, so that the weight of the heavy 
canvas would not be upon him. 

"I got to get that ridge pole fixed," Al said. "Do her to- 
night when we stop." Grampa grunted and fought weakly 
against awakening, and when he was finally settled he went 
deeply to sleep again. 

Pa said, "Ma, you an' Granma set in with Al for a while. 
We'll change aroun' so it's easier, but you start out that 
way." They got into the cab, and then the rest swarmed up 
on top of the load, Connie and Rose of Sharon, Pa and 
Uncle John, Ruthie and Winfield, Tom and the preacher. 
Noah stood on the ground, looking up at the great load of 
them sitting on top of the truck. 

Al walked around, looking underneath at the springs. 
"Holy Jesus," he said, "them springs is flat as hell. Lucky I 
blocked under 'em." 

Noah said, "How about the dogs, Pa?" 

"I forgot the dogs," Pa said. He whistled shrilly, and one 
bouncing dog ran in, but only one. Noah caught him and 
threw him up on the top, where he sat rigid and shivering at 
the height. "Got to leave the other two," Pa called. "Muley, 
will you look after 'em some? See they don't starve?" 

"Yeah," said Muley. "I'll like to have a couple dogs. Yeah! 
I'll take 'em." 

"Take them chickens, too," Pa said. 

Al got into the driver's seat. The starter whirred and 
caught, and whirred again. And then the loose roar of the 
six cylinders and a blue smoke behind. "So long, Muley," Al 
called. 



156 The Grapes of Wrath 

And the family called, "Good-by, Muley." 

Al slipped in the low gear and let in the clutch. The truck 
shuddered and strained across the yard. And the second gear 
took hold. They crawled up the little hill, and the red dust 
arose about them. "Chr-ist, what a load!" said Al. "We ain't 
makin' no time on this trip." 

Ma tried to look back, but the body of the load cut off her 
view. She straightened her head and peered straight ahead 
along the dirt road. And a great weariness was in her eyes. 

The people on top of the load did look back. They saw 
the house and the barn and a little smoke still rising from the 
chimney. They saw the windows reddening under the first 
color of the sun. They saw Muley standing forlornly in the 
dooryard looking after them. And then the hill cut them off. 
The cotton fields lined the road. And the truck crawled 
slowly through the dust toward the highway and the west. 



Chapter Eleven 



THE houses were left vacant on the land, and the land 
was vacant because of this. Only the tractor sheds 
of corrugated iron, silver and gleaming, were alive; 
and they were alive with metal and gasoline and oil, the disks 
of the plows shining. The tractors had lights shining, for 
there is no day and night for a tractor and the disks turn the 
earth in the darkness and they glitter in the daylight. And 
when a horse stops work and goes into the barn there is a 
life and a vitality left, there is a breathing and a warmth, and 
the feet shift on the straw, and the jaws champ on the hay, 
and the ears and the eyes are alive. There is a warmth of life 
in the barn, and the heat and smell of life. But when the 
motor of a tractor stops, it is as dead as the ore it came from. 
The heat goes out of it like the living heat that leaves a 
corpse. Then the corrugated iron doors are closed and the 
tractor man drives home to town, perhaps twenty miles 
away, and he need not come back for weeks or months, for 
the tractor is dead. And this is easy and efficient. So easy that 
the wonder goes out of work, so efficient that the wonder 
goes out of land and the working of it, and with the wonder 
the deep understanding and the relation. And in the tractor 
man there grows the contempt that comes only to a stranger 
who has little understanding and no relation. For nitrates are 
not the land, nor phosphates; and the length of fiber in the 



158 Ihe Cjrapes of Wrath 

cotton is not the land. Carbon is not a man, nor salt nor water 
nor calcium. He is all these, but he is much more, much more; 
and the land is so much more than its analysis. The man who 
is more than his chemistry, walking on the earth, turning his 
plow point for a stone, dropping his handles to slide over an 
outcropping, kneeling in the earth to eat his lunch; that man 
who is more than his elements knows the land that is more 
than its analysis. But the machine man, driving a dead tractor 
on land he does not know and love, understands only chemis- 
try; and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself. When 
the corrugated iron doors are shut, he goes home, and his 
home is not the land. 

The doors of the empty houses swung open, and drifted 
back and forth in the wind. Bands of little boys came out 
from the towns to break the windows and to pick over the 
debris, looking for treasures. And here's a knife with half 
the blade gone. That's a good thing. And smells like a rat 
died here. And look what Whitey wrote on the wall. He 
wrote that in the toilet in school, too, an' teacher made 'im 
wash it off. 

When the folks first left, and the evening of the first day 
came, the hunting cats slouched in from the fields and mewed 
on the porch. And when no one came out, the cats crept 
through the open doors and walked mewing through the 
empty rooms. And then they went back to the fields and 
were wild cats from then on, hunting gophers and field mice, 
and sleeping in ditches in the daytime. When the night came, 
the bats, which had stopped at the doors for fear of light, 
swooped into the houses and sailed about through the empty 
rooms, and in a little while they stayed in dark room corners 
during the day, folded their wings high, and hung head- 



The Grapes of Wrath 159 

down among the rafters, and the smell of their droppings was 
in the empty houses. 

And the mice moved in and stored weed seeds in cor- 
ners, in boxes, in the backs of drawers in the kitchens. And 
weasels came in to hunt the mice, and the brown owls flew 
shrieking in and out again. 

Now there came a little shower. The weeds sprang up in 
front of the doorstep, where they had not been allowed, and 
grass grew up through the porch boards. The houses were 
vacant, and a vacant house falls quickly apart. Splits started 
up the sheathing from the rusted nails. A dust settled on the 
floors, and only mouse and weasel and cat tracks disturbed it. 

On a night the wind loosened a shingle and flipped it to 
the ground. The next wind pried into the hole where the 
shingle had been, lifted off three, and the next, a dozen. The 
midday sun burned through the hole and threw 7 a glaring 
spot on the floor. The wild cats crept in from the fields at 
night, but they did not mew at the doorstep any more. They 
moved like shadows of a cloud across the moon, into the 
rooms to hunt the mice. And on windy nights the doors 
banged, and the ragged curtains fluttered in the broken win- 
dows. 



Chapter Twelve 



HIGHWAY 66 is the main migrant road. 66 the long 
concrete path across the country, waving gently up 
and down on the map, from the Mississippi to Bakers- 
field over the red lands and the gray lands, twisting up into 
the mountains, crossing the Divide and down into the bright 
and terrible desert, and across the desert to the mountains 
again, and into the rich California valleys. 

66 is the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and 
shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking 
ownership, from the desert's slow northward invasion, from 
the twisting winds that howl up out of Texas, from the 
floods that bring no richness to the land and steal what little 
richness is there. From all of these the people are in flight, 
and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from 
the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the 
mother road, the road of flight. 

Clarksville and Ozark and Van Buren and Fort Smith on 
64, and there's an end of Arkansas. And all the roads into 
Oklahoma City, 66 down from Tulsa, 270 up from McAles- 
ter. 8 1 from Wichita Falls south, from Enid north. Edmond, 
McLoud, Purcell. 66 out of Oklahoma City; El Reno and 
Clinton, going west on 66. Hydro, Elk City, and Texola; and 
there's an end to Oklahoma. 66 across the Panhandle of 
Texas. Shamrock and McLean, Conway and Amarillo, the 
yellow. Wildorado and Vega and Boise, and there's an end 
of Texas. Tucumcari and Santa Rosa and into the New Mex- 

:6o 



The Grapes of Wrath 161 

lean mountains to Albuquerque, where the road comes down 
from Santa Fe. Then down the gorged Rio Grande to Los 
Lunas and west again on 66 to Gallup, and there's the border 
of New Mexico. 

And now the high mountains. Holbrook and Winslow and 
Flagstaff in the high mountains of Arizona. Then the great 
plateau rolling like a ground swell. Ashfork and Kingman 
and stone mountains again, where water must be hauled and 
sold. Then out of the broken sun-rotted mountains of Ari- 
zona to the Colorado, with green reeds on its banks, and 
that's the end of Arizona. There's California just over the 
river, and a pretty town to start it. Needles, on the river. 
But the river is a stranger in this place. Up from Needles 
and over a burned range, and there's the desert. And 66 goes 
on over the terrible desert, where the distance shimmers and 
the black center mountains hang unbearably in the distance. 
At last there's Barstow, and more desert until at last the 
mountains rise up again, the good mountains, and 66 winds 
through them. Then suddenly a pass, and below the beauti- 
ful valley, below orchards and vineyards and little houses, 
and in the distance a city. And, oh, my God, it's over. 

The people in flight streamed out on 66, sometimes a sin- 
gle car, sometimes a little caravan. All day they rolled slowly 
along the road, and at night they stopped near water. In the 
day ancient leaky radiators sent up columns of steam, loose 
connecting rods hammered and pounded. And the men driv- 
ing the trucks and the overloaded cars listened apprehen- 
sively. How far between towns? It is a terror between towns. 
If something breaks well, if something breaks we camp 
right here while Jim walks to town and gets a part and walks 
back andhow much food we got? 

Listen to the motor. Listen to the wheels. Listen with your 



1 62 The Grapes of Wrath 

ears and with your hands on the steering wheel; listen with 
the palm of your hand on the gear-shift lever; listen with 
your feet on the floor boards. Listen to the pounding old 
jalopy with all your senses; for a change of tone, a variation 
of rhythm may meana week here? That rattle that's tap- 
pets. Don't hurt a bit. Tappets can rattle till Jesus comes 
again without no harm. But that thudding as the car moves 
along can't hear that just kind of feel it. Maybe oil isn't 
gettin' someplace. Maybe a bearing's startin' to go. Jesus, if 
it's a bearing, what'll we do? Money's goin' fast. 

And why's the son-of-a-bitch heat up so hot today? This 
ain't no climb. Le's look. God Almighty, the fan belt's gone! 
Here, make a belt outa this little piece a rope. Le's see how 
long there. I'll splice the ends. Now take her slow slow, 
till we can get to a town. That rope belt won't last long. 

'F we can on'y get to California where the oranges grow 
before this here ol' jug blows up. 'F we on'y can. 

And the tires two layers of fabric worn through. On'y 
a four-ply tire. Might get a hunderd miles more outa her if 
we don't hit a rock an' blow her. Which'll we take a hun- 
derd, maybe, miles, or maybe spoil the tube? Which? A 
hunderd miles. Well, that's sornepin you got to think about. 
We got tube patches. Maybe when she goes she'll only 
spring a leak. How about makin' a boot? Might get five hun- 
derd more miles. Le's go on till she blows. 

We got to get a tire, but, Jesus, they want a lot for a ol' 
tire. They look a fella over. They know he got to go on. 
They know he can't wait. And the price goes up. 

Take it or leave it. I ain't in business for my health. I'm 
here a-sellin' tires. I ain't givin' 'em away. I can't help what 
happens to you. I got to think what happens to me. 



The Grapes of Wrath 163 

How far's the nex' town? 

I seen forty-two cars a you fellas go by yesterday. Where 
you all come from? Where all of you goin'? 

Well, California's a big State. 

It ain't that big. The whole United States ain't that big. 
It ain't that big. It ain't big enough. There ain't room enough 
for you an' me, for your kind an' my kind, for rich and poor 
together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For 
hunger and fat. Whyn't you go back where you come from? 

This is a free country. Fella can go where he wants. 

That's what you think! Ever hear of the border patrol on 
the California line? Police from Los Angeles stopped you 
bastards, turned you back. Says, if you can't buy no real 
estate we don't want you. Says, got a driver's license? Le's 
see it. Tore it up. Says you can't come in without no driver's 
license. 

It's a free country. 

Well, try to get some freedom to do. Fella says you're jus' 
as free as you got jack to pay for it. 

In California they got high wages. I got a han'bill here 
tells about it. 

Baloney! I seen folks comin' back. Somebody's kiddin' 
you. You want that tire or don't ya? 

Got to take it, but, Jesus, mister, it cuts into our money! 
We ain't got much left. 

Well, I ain't no charity. Take her along. 

Got to, I guess. Let's look her over. Open her up, look a' 
the casing you son-of-a-bitch, you said the casing was good. 
She's broke damn near through. 

The hell she is. Well by George! How come I didn' see 
that? 



164 The Grapes of Wrath 

You did see it, you son-of-a-bitch. You wanta charge us 
four bucks for a busted casing. I'd like to take a sock at you. 

Now keep your shirt on. I didn' see it, I tell you. Here- 
tell ya what I'll do. I'll give ya this one for three-fifty. 

You'll take a flying jump at the moon! We'll try to make 
the nex' town. 

Think we can make it on that tire? 

Got to. I'll go on the rim before I'd give that son-of-a- 
bitch a dime. 

What do ya think a guy in business is? Like he says, he 
ain't in it for his health. That's what business is. What'd you 
think it was? Fella's got See that sign 'longside the road 
there? Service Club. Luncheon Tuesday, Colmado Hotel? 
Welcome, brother. That's a Service Club. Fella had a story. 
Went to one of them meetings an' told the story to all them 
business men. Says, when I was a kid my oP man give me a 
haltered heifer an' says take her down an' git her serviced. 
An' the fella says, I done it, an' ever' time since then when I 
hear a business man talkin' about service, I wonder who's 
gettin' screwed. Fella in business got to lie an' cheat, but he 
calls it somepin else. That's what's important. You go steal 
that tire an' you're a thief, but he tried to steal your four dol- 
lars for a busted tire. They call that sound business. 

Danny in the back seat wants a cup a water. 

Have to wait. Got no water here. 

Listen that the rear end? 

Can't tell. 

Sound telegraphs through the frame. 

There goes a gasket. Got to go on. Listen to her whistle. 
Find a nice place to camp an' I'll jerk the head off. But, God 
Almighty, the food's gettin' low, the money's gettin' low. 
When we can't bay no more gas what then? 



The Grapes of Wrath 165 

Danny in the back seat wants a cup a water. Little fella's 
thirsty. 

Listen to that gasket whistle. 

Chee-rist! There she went. Blowed tube an' casing all to 
hell. Have to fix her. Save that casing to make boots; cut 'em 
out an' stick 'em inside a weak place. 

Cars pulled up beside the road, engine heads off, tires 
mended. Cars limping along 66 like wounded things, panting 
and struggling. Too hot, loose connections, loose bearings, 
rattling bodies. 

Danny wants a cup of water. 

People in flight along 66. And the concrete road shone 
like a mirror under the sun, and in the distance the heat made 
it seem that there were pools of water in the road. 
Danny wants a cup a water. 

He'll have to wait, poor little fella. He's hot. Nex' service 
station. Service station, like the fella says. 

Two hundred and fifty thousand people over the road. 
Fifty thousand old cars wounded, steaming. Wrecks along 
the road, abandoned. Well, what happened to them? What 
happened to the folks in that car? Did they walk? Where 
are they? Where does the courage come from? Where does 
the terrible faith come from? 

And here's a story you can hardly believe, but it's true, 
and it's funny and it's beautiful. There was a family of 
twelve and they were forced off the land. They had no car. 
They built a trailer out of junk and loaded it with their 
possessions. They pulled it to the side of 66 and waited. And 
pretty soon a sedan picked them up. Five of them rode in 
the sedan and seven on the trailer, and a dog on the trailer. 
They got to California in two jumps. The man who pulled 
them fed them. And that's true. But how can such courage 



1 66 The Grapes of Wrath 

be, and such faith in their own species? Very few things 

would teach such faith. 

The people in flight from the terror behind strange 
things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beau- 
tiful that the faith is refired forever. 



Chapter Thirteen 

THE ancient overloaded Hudson creaked and grunted 
to the highway at Sallisaw and turned west, and the 
sun was blinding. But on the concrete road Al built 
up his speed because the flattened springs were not in danger 
any more. From Sallisaw to Gore is twenty-one miles and the 
Hudson was doing thirty-five miles an hour. From Gore to 
Warner thirteen miles; Warner to Chccotah fourteen miles; 
Chccotah a long jump to Henrietta thirty-four miles, but 
a real town at the end of it. Henrietta to Castle nineteen 
miles, and the sun was overhead, and the red fields, heated by 
the high sun, vibrated the air. 

AI, at the wheel, his face purposeful, his whole body lis- 
tening to the car, his restless eyes jumping from the road to 
the instrument panel. Al was one with his engine, every 
nerve listening for weaknesses, for the thumps or squeals, 
hums and chattering that indicate a change that may cause a 
breakdown. He had become the soul of the car. 

Granma, beside him on the seat, half slept, and whimpered 
in her sleep, opened her eyes to peer ahead, and then dozed 
again. And Ma sat beside Granma, one elbow out the win- 
dow, and the skin reddening under the fierce sun. Ma looked 
ahead too, but her eyes were flat and did not see the road or 
the fields, the gas stations, the little eating sheds. She did not 
glance at them as the Hudson went by. 

AI shifted himself on the broken seat and changed his grip 

167 



1 68 The Grapes of Wrath 

on the steering wheel. And he sighed, "Makes a racket, but 
I think she's awright. God knows what she'll do if we got 
to climb a hill with the load we got. Got any hills 'tween 
here an' California, Ma?" 

Ma turned her head slowly and her eyes came to life. 
"Seems to me they's hills," she said. " 'Course I dunno. But 
seems to me I heard they's hills an' even mountains. Big 
ones." 

Granma drew a long whining sigh in her sleep. 

Al said, "We'll burn right up if we got climbin' to do. 
Have to throw out some a' this stuff. Maybe we shouldn' a 
brang that preacher." 

"You'll be glad a that preacher 'fore we're through," said 
Ma. "That preacher'll help us." She looked ahead at the 
gleaming road again. 

Al steered with one hand and put the other on the vibrat- 
ing gear-shift lever. He had difficulty in speaking. His mouth 
formed the words silently before he said them aloud. 
"Ma" She looked slowly around at him, her head swaying a 
little with the car's motion. "Ma, you scared a goin'? You 
scared a goin' to a new place?" 

Her eyes grew thoughtful and soft. "A little," she said. 
"Only it ain't like scared so much. I'm jus' a settin' here 
waitin'. When somepin happens that I got to do somepin 
I'll do it." 

"Ain't you thinkin' what's it gonna be like when we get 
there? Ain't you scared it won't be nice like we thought?" 

"No," she said quickly. "No, I ain't. You can't do that. I 
can't do that. It's too much livin' too nlany lives. Up ahead 
they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes, it'll 
on'y be one. If I go ahead on all of 'em, it's too much. You 
got to live ahead 'cause you're so young, but it's jus' the 



The Grapes of Wrath 169 

road goin' by for me. An' it's jus' how soon they gonna 
wanta eat some more pork bones." Her face tightened. 
"That's all I can do. I can't do no more. All the rest'd get 
upset if I done any more'n that. They all depen' on me jus' 
thinkin' about that." 

Granma yawned shrilly and opened her eyes. She looked 
wildly about. "I got to get out, praise Gawd," she said. 

"First clump a brush," said Al. "They's one up ahead." 

"Brush or no brush, I got to git out, I tell ya." And she 
began to whine, "I got to git out. I got to git out." 

Al speeded up, and when he came to the low brush he 
pulled up short. Ma threw the door open and half pulled 
the struggling old lady out beside the road and into the 
bushes. And Ma held her so Granma would not fall when she 
squatted. 

On top of the truck the others stirred to life. Their faces 
were shining with sunburn they could not escape. Tom and 
Casy and Noah and Uncle John let themselves wearily down. 
Ruthie and Winfield swarmed down the side-boards and 
went off into the bushes. Connie helped Rose of Sharon 
gently down. Under the canvas, Grampa was awake, his head 
sticking out, but his eyes were drugged and watery and still 
senseless. He watched the others, but there was little recog- 
nition in his watching. 

Tom called to him, "Want to come down, Grampa?"* 

The old eyes turned listlessly to him. "No," said Grampa. 
For a moment the fierceness came into his eyes. "I ain't 
a-goin', I tell you. Gonna stay like Muley." And then he lost 
interest again. Ma came back, helping Granma up the bank 
to the highway. 

"Tom," she said. "Get that pan a bones, under the canvas 
in back. We got to eat somepin." Tom got the pan and 



170 The Grapes of Wrath 

passed it around, and the family stood by the roadside, gnaw- 
ing the crisp particles from the pork bones. 

"Sure lucky we brang these along," said Pa. "Git so stifl 
up there can't hardly move. Where's the water?" 

"Ain't it up with you?" Ma asked. "I set out that gallor 



Pa climbed the sides and looked under the canvas. "It ain't 
here. We must a forgot it." 

Thirst set in instantly. Winfield moaned, "I wanta drink, 
I wanta drink." The men licked their lips, suddenly con- 
scious of their thirst. And a little panic started. 

Al felt the fear growing. "We'll get water first service sta- 
tion we come to. We need some gas too." The family 
swarmed up the truck sides; Ma helped Granma in and got 
in beside her. Al started the motor and they moved on. 

Castle to Paden twenty-five miles and the sun passed the 
zenith and started down. And the radiator cap began to jig- 
gle up and down and steam started to whish out. Near 
Paden there was a shack beside the road and two gas pumps 
in front of it; and beside a fence, a water faucet and a hose. 
Al drove in and nosed the Hudson up to the hose. As they 
pulled in, a stout man, red of face and arms, got up from a 
chair behind the gas pumps and moved toward them. He 
wore brown corduroys, and suspenders and a polo shirt; and 
he had a cardboard sun helmet, painted silver, on his head. 
The sweat beaded on his nose and under his eyes and formed 
streams in the wrinkles of his neck. He strolled toward the 
truck, looking truculent and stern. 

"You folks aim to buy anything? Gasoline or stuff?" he 
asked. 

Al was out already, unscrewing the steaming radiator cap 
with the tips of his fingers, jerking his hand away to escape 



The Grapes of Wrath 171 

the spurt when the cap should come loose. "Need some gas, 
mister." 

"Cot any money?" 

"Sure. Think we're beggin'?" 

The truculence left the fat man's face. "Well, that's all 
right, folks. He'p yourself to water." And he hastened to ex- 
plain. "Road is full a people, come in, use water, dirty up the 
toilet, an' then, by God, they'll steal stuff an' don't buy 
nothin'. Got no money to buy with. Come beggin' a gallon 
gas to move on." 

Tom dropped angrily to the ground and moved toward 
the fat man. "We're payin' our way," he said fiercely. "You 
got no call to give us a goin'-over. We ain't asked you for 
nothin'." 

"I ain't," the fat man said quickly. The sweat began to 
soak through his short-sleeved polo shirt. "Jus' hc'p yourself 
to water, and go use the toilet if you want." 

Winfield had got the hose. He drank from the end and 
then turned the stream over his head and face, and emerged 
dripping. "It ain't cool," he said. 

"I don' know what the country's comin' to," the fat man 
continued. His complaint had shifted now and he was no 
longer talking to or about the Joads. "Fifty-sixty cars a 
folks go by ever' day, folks all movin' west with kids an' 
househol' stuff. Where they goin'? What they gonna do?" 

"Doin' the same as us," said Tom. "Goin' someplace to 
live. Tryin' to get along. That's all." 

"Well, I don' know what the country's comin' to. I jus' 
don' know. Here's me tryin' to get along, too. Think any 
them big new cars stops here? No, sir! They go on to them 
yella-painted company stations in town. They don't stop no 
place like this. Most folks stops here ain't got nothin'." 



172 The Grapes of Wrath 

Al flipped the radiator cap and it jumped into the air with 
a head of steam behind it, and a hollow bubbling sound came 
out of the radiator. On top of the truck, the suffering hound 
dog crawled timidly to the edge of the load and looked over, 
whimpering, toward the water. Uncle John climbed up and 
lifted him down by the scruff of the neck. For a moment the 
dog staggered on stiff legs, and then he went to lap the mud 
under the faucet. In the highway the cars whizzed by, glis- 
tening in the heat, and the hot wind of their going fanned 
into the service-station yard. Al filled the radiator with the 
hose. 

"It ain't that I'm tryin' to git trade outa rich folks," the fat 
man went on. "I'm jus' tryin' to git trade. Why, the folks 
that stops here begs gasoline an' they trades for gasoline. I 
could show you in my back room the stuff they'll trade for 
gas an' oil: beds an' baby buggies an' pots an' pans. One fam- 
ily traded a doll their kid had for a gallon. An' what'm I 
gonna do with the stuff, open a junk shop? Why, one fella 
wanted to gimme his shoes for a gallon. An' if I was that 
kinda fella I bet I could git" He glanced at Ma and stopped. 

Jim Casy had wet his head, and the drops still coursed 
down his high forehead, and his muscled neck was wet, and 
his shirt was wet. He moved over beside Tom. "It ain't the 
people's fault," he said. "How'd you like to sell the bed you 
sleep on for a tankful a gas?" 

"I know it ain't their fault. Ever' person I talked to is on 
the move for a damn good reason. But what's the country 
comin' to? That's what I wanta know. What's it comin' to? 
Fella can't make a livin' no more. Folks can't make a livin' 
farmin'. I ask you, what's it comin' to? I can't figure her out. 
Ever'body I ask, they can't figure her out. Fella wants to 



The Grapes of Wrath 173 

trade his shoes so he can git a hunderd miles on. I can't figure 
her out." He took off his silver hat and wiped his forehead 
with his palm. And Tom took off his cap and wiped his fore- 
head with it. He went to the hose and wet the cap through 
and squeezed it and put it on again. Ma worked a tin cup out 
through the side bars of the truck, and she took water to 
Granma and to Grampa on top of the load. She stood on the 
bars and handed the cup to Grampa, and he wet his lips, and 
then shook his head and refused more. The old eyes looked 
up at Ma in pain and bewilderment for a moment before the 
awareness receded again. 

Al started the motor and backed the truck to the gas 
pump. "Fill her up. She'll take about seven," said Al. "We'll 
give her six so she don't spill none." 

The fat man put the hose in the tank. "No, sir," he said. 
"I jus' don't know what the country's comin' to. Relief an' 
all." 

Casy said, "I been walkin' aroun' in the country. Ever'- 
body's askin' that. What we comin' to? Seems to me we 
don't never come to nothin'. Always on the way. Always 
goin' and goin'. Why don't folks think about that? They's 
movement now. People moving. We know why, an' we 
know how. Movin' 'cause they got to. That's why folks 
always move. Movin' 'cause they want somepin better'n 
what they got. An' that's the on'y way they'll ever git it. 
Wantin' it an' needin' it, they'll go out an' git it. It's bein' 
hurt that makes folks mad to fightin'. I been walkin' aroun' 
the country, an' hearin' folks talk like you." 

The fat man pumped the gasoline and the needle turned 
on the pump dial, recording the amount. "Yeah, but what's it 
comin' to? That's what I want ta know." 



174 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom broke in irritably, "Well, you ain't never gonna 
know. Casy tries to tell ya an' you jest ast the same thing 
over. I seen fellas like you before. You ain't askin' nothin'; 
you're jus' singin' a kinda song. 'What we comin' to?' You 
don' wanta know. Country's movin' aroun', goin' places. 
They's folks dyin' all aroun'. Maybe you'll die pretty soon, 
but you won't know nothin'. I seen too many fellas like you. 
You don't want to know nothin'. Just sing yourself to sleep 
with a song 'What we comin' to?' " He looked at the gas 
pump, rusted and old, and at the shack behind it, built of 
old lumber, the nail holes of its first use still showing through 
the paint that had been brave, the brave yellow paint that had 
tried to imitate the big company stations in town. But the 
paint couldn't cover the old nail holes and the old cracks in 
the lumber, and the paint could not be renewed. The imita- 
tion was a failure and the owner had known it was a failure. 
And inside the open door of the shack Tom saw the oil bar- 
rels, only two of them, and the candy counter with stale 
candies and licorice whips turning brown with age, and 
cigarettes. He saw the broken chair and the fly screen with a 
rusted hole in it. And the littered yard that should have been 
graveled, and behind, the corn field drying and dying in the 
sun. Beside the house the little stock of used tires and re- 
treaded tires. And he saw for the first time the fat man's 
cheap washed pants and his cheap polo shirt and his paper 
hat. He said, "I didn' mean to sound off at ya, mister. It's 
the heat. You ain't got nothin'. Pretty soon you'll be on the 
road yourse'f . And it ain't tractors'll put you there. It's them 
pretty yella stations in town. Folks is movin','' he said asham- 
edly. "An' you'll be movin', mister." 

The fat man's hand slowed on the pump and stopped 
while Tom spoke. He looked worriedly at Tom. "How'd 



The Grapes of Wrath 175 

you know?" he asked helplessly. "How'd you know we was 
already talkin' about packin' up an' movin' west?" 

Casy answered him. "It's ever'body," he said. "Here's me 
that used to give all my fight against the devil 'cause I fig- 
gered the devil was the enemy. But they's somepin worse'n 
the devil got hold a the country, an' it ain't gonna let go till 
it's chopped loose. Ever see one a them Gila monsters take 
hold, mister? Grabs hold, an' you chop him in two an' his 
head hangs on. Chop him at the neck an' his head hangs on. 
Got to take a screw-driver an' pry his head apart to git him 
loose. An' while he's layin' there, poison is drippin' an' drip- 
pin' into the hole he's made with his teeth." He stopped and 
looked sideways at Tom. 

The fat man stared hopelessly straight ahead. His hand 
started turning the crank slowly. "I dunno what we're 
comin' to," he said softly. 

Over by the water hose, Connie and Rose of Sharon stood 
together, talking secretly. Connie washed the tin cup and 
felt the water with his finger before he filled the cup again. 
Rose of Sharon watched the cars go by on the highway. 
Connie held out the cup to her. "This water ain't cool, but 
it's wet," he said. 

She looked at him and smiled secretly. She was all secrets 
now she was pregnant, secrets and little silences that seemed 
to have meanings. She was pleased with herself, and she com- 
plained about things that didn't really matter. And she de- 
manded services of Connie that were silly, and both of them 
knew they were silly. Connie was pleased with her too, and 
filled with wonder that she was pregnant. He liked to think 
he was in on the secrets she had. When she smiled slyly, he 
smiled slyly too, and they exchanged confidences in whis- 
pers. The world had drawn close around them, and they 



176 The Grapes of Wrath 

were in the center of it, or rather Rose of Sharon was in the 
center of it with Connie making a small orbit about her. 
Everything they said was a kind of secret. 

She drew her eyes from the highway. "I ain't very thirsty," 
she said daintily. "But maybe I ought to drink." 

And he nodded, for he knew well what she meant. She 
took the cup and rinsed her mouth and spat and then drank 
the cupful of tepid water. "Want another?" he asked. 

"Jus' a half." And so he filled the cup just half, and gave it 
to her. A Lincoln Zephyr, silvery and low, whisked by. She 
turned to see where the others were and saw them clustered 
about the truck. Reassured, she said, "How'd you like to be 
goin' along in that?" 

Connie sighed, "Maybeafter." They both knew what he 
meant. "An' if they's plenty work in California, we'll git our 
own car. But them" he indicated the disappearing Zephyr 
"them kind costs as much as a good size house. I ruther 
have the house." 

"I like to have the house an' one a them," she said. "But 
'course the house would be first because" And they both 
knew what she meant. They were terribly excited about the 
pregnancy. 

"You feel awright?" he asked. 

"Tar'd. Jus' tar'd ridin' in the sun." 

"We got to do that or we won't never get to California." 

"I know," she said. 

The dog wandered, sniffing, past the truck, trotted to the 
puddle under the hose again and lapped at the muddy water. 
And then he moved away, nose down arid ears hanging. He 
sniffed his way among the dusty weeds beside the road, to 
the edge of the pavement. He raised his head and looked 
across, and then started over. Rose of Sharon screamed 



The Grapes of Wrath 177 

shrilly. A big swift car whisked near, tires squealed. The 
dog dodged helplessly, and with a shriek, cut off in the mid- 
dle, went under the wheels. The big car slowed for a mo- 
ment and faces looked back, and then it gathered greater 
speed and disappeared. And the dog, a blot of blood and 
tangled, burst intestines, kicked slowly in the road. 

Rose of Sharon's eyes were wide. "D'you think it'll hurt?" 
she begged. "Think it'll hurt?" 

Connie put his arm around her. "Come set down," he said. 
"It wasn't nothinV 

"But I felt it hurt. I felt it kinda jar when I yelled." 

"Come set down. It wasn't nothin'. It won't hurt." He led 
her to the side of the truck away from the dying dog and sat 
her down on the running board. 

Tom and Uncle John walked out to the mess. The last 
quiver was going out of the crushed body. Tom took it by 
the legs and dragged it to the side of the road. Uncle John 
look embarrassed, as though it were his fault. "I ought ta tied 
him up," he said. 

Pa looked down at the dog for a moment and then he 
turned away. "Le's get outa here," he said. "I don' know how 
we was gonna feed 'im anyways. Just as well, maybe." 

The fat man came from behind the truck. "I'm sorry, 
folks," he said. "A dog jus' don' last no time near a highway. 
I had three dogs run over in a year. Don't keep none, no 
more." And he said, "Don't you folks worry none about it. 
I'll take care of 'im. Bury 'im out in the corn field." 

Ma walked over to Rose of Sharon, where she sat, still 
shuddering, on the running board. "You all right, Rosa- 
sharn?" she asked. "You feelin' poorly?" 

"I seen that. Give me a start." 

"I heard ya yip," said Ma. "Git yourself laced up, now." 



178 The Grapes of Wrath 

"You suppose it might of hurt?" 

"No," said Ma. " T you go to greasin' yourself an' feelin' 
sorry, an 7 tuckin' yourself in a swalla's nest, it might. Rise 
up now, an' he'p me get Granma comf'table. Forget that 
baby for a minute. He'll take care a hisself." 

"Where is Granma?" Rose of Sharon asked. 

"I dunno. She's aroun' here somewheres. Maybe in the 
outhouse." 

The girl went toward the toilet, and in a moment she came 
out, helping Granma along. "She went to sleep in there," 
said Rose of Sharon. 

Granma grinned. "It's nice in there," she said. "They got 
a patent toilet in there an' the water comes down. I like it in 
there," she said contentedly. "Would of took a good nap if 
I wasn't woke up." 

"It ain't a nice place to sleep," said Rose of Sharon, and 
she helped Granma into the car. Granma settled herself hap- 
pily. "Maybe it ain't nice for purty, but it's nice for nice," 
she said. 

Tom said, "Le's go. We got to make miles." 

Pa whistled shrilly. "Now where'd them kids go?" He 
whistled again, putting his fingers in his mouth. 

In a moment they broke from the corn field, Ruthie ahead 
and Winfield trailing her. "Eggs!" Ruthie cried. "I got sof 
eggs." She rushed close, with Winfield close behind. "Look!" 
A dozen soft, grayish-white eggs were in her grubby hand. 
And as she held up her hand, her eyes fell upon the dead dog 
beside the road. "Oh!" she said. Ruthie and Winfield walked 
slowly toward the dog. They inspected him. 

Pa called to them, "Come on, you, 'less you want to git 
left." 

They turned solemnly and walked to the truck. Ruthie 



The Grapes of Wrath 179 

looked once more at the gray reptile eggs in her hand, and 
then she threw them away. They climbed up the side of the 
truck. "His eyes was still open," said Ruthie in a hushed 
tone. 

But Winfield gloried in the scene. He said boldly, "His 
guts was just strowed all over all over" he was silent for a 
moment "strowed all over," he said, and then he rolled 
over quickly and vomited down the side of the truck. When 
he sat up again his eyes were watery and his nose running. 
"It ain't like killin' pigs," he said in explanation. 

Al had the hood of the Hudson up, and he checked the oil 
level. He brought a gallon can from the floor of the front 
seat and poured a quantity of cheap black oil into the pipe 
and checked the level again. 

Tom came beside him. "Want I should take her a piece?" 
he asked. 

"I ain't tired," said Al. 

"Well, you didn' get no sleep las' night. I took a snooze 
this morning. Get up there on top. I'll take her." 

"Awright," Al said reluctantly. "But watch the oil gauge 
pretty close. Take her slow. An' I been watchin' for a short. 
Take a look a the needle now an' then. 'F she jumps to dis- 
charge it's a short. An' take her slow, Tom. She's over- 
loaded." 

Tom laughed. "I'll watch her," he said. "You can res 7 
easy." 

The family piled on top of the truck again. Ma settled her- 
self beside Granma in the seat, and Tom took his place and 
started the motor. "Sure is loose," he said, and he put it in 
gear and pulled away down the highway. 

The motor droned along steadily and the sun receded 
down the sky in front of them. Granma slept steadily, and 



180 The Grapes of Wrath 

even Ma dropped her head forward and dozed. Tom pulled 

his cap over his eyes to shut out the blinding sun. 

Paden to Meeker is thirteen miles; Meeker to Harrah is 
fourteen miles; and then Oklahoma City the big city. Tom 
drove straight on. Ma waked up and looked at the streets as 
they went through the city. And the family, on top of the 
truck, stared about at the stores, at the big houses, at the 
office buildings. And then the buildings grew smaller and the 
stores smaller. The wrecking yards and hot-dog stands, the 
out-city dance halls. 

Ruthie and Winfield saw it all, and it embarrassed them 
with its bigness and its strangeness, and it frightened them 
with the fine-clothed people they saw. They did not speak 
of it to each other. Later they would, but not now. They 
saw the oil derricks in the town, on the edge of the town; 
oil derricks black, and the smell of oil and gas in the air. But 
they didn't exclaim. It was so big and so strange it frightened 
them. 

In the street Rose of Sharon saw a man in a light suit. He 
wore white shoes and a flat straw hat. She touched Connie 
and indicated the man with her eyes, and then Connie and 
Rose of Sharon giggled softly to themselves, and the giggles 
got the best of them. They covered their mouths. And it 
felt so good that they looked for other people to giggle at. 
Ruthie and Winfield saw them giggling and it looked such 
fun that they tried to do it too but they couldn't. The gig- 
gles wouldn't come. But Connie and Rose of Sharon were 
breathless and red with stifling laughter before they could 
stop. It got so bad that they had only to look at each other to 
start over again. 

The outskirts were wide spread. Tom drove slowly and 
carefully in the traffic, and then they were on 66 the great 



The Grapes of Wrath 181 

western road, and the sun was sinking on the line of the road. 
The windshield was bright with dust. Tom pulled his cap 
lower over his eyes, so low that he had to tilt his head back 
to see out at all. Granma slept on, the sun on her closed 
eyelids, and the veins on her temples were blue, and the little 
bright veins on her cheeks were wine-colored, and the old 
brown marks on her face turned darker. 

Tom said, "We stay on this road right straight through." 

Ma had been silent for a long time. "Maybe we better fin' 
a place to stop 'fore sunset," she said. "I got to get some pork 
a-boilin' an' some bread made. That takes time." 

"Sure," Tom agreed. "We ain't gonna make this trip in one 
jump. Might's well stretch ourselves." 

Oklahoma City to Bethany is fourteen miles. 

Tom said, "I think we better stop 'fore the sun goes down. 
Al got to build that thing on the top. Sun'll kill the folks up 
there." 

Ma had been dozing again. Her head jerked upright. "Got 
to get some supper a-cookin'," she said. And she said, "Tom, 
your pa tol' me about you crossin' the State line " 

He was a long time answering. "Yeah? What about it, 
Ma?" 

"Well, I'm scairt about it. It'll make you kinda runnin' 
away. Maybe they'll catch ya." 

Tom held his hand over his eyes to protect himself from 
the lowering sun. "Don't you worry," he said. "I figgered 
her out. They's lots a fellas out on parole an' they's more 
goin j in all the time. If I get caught for anything else out 
west, well, then they got my pitcher an' my prints in Wash- 
ington. They'll sen' me back. But if I don't do no crimes, 
they won't give a damn." 

"Well, I'm a-scairt about it. Sometimes you do a crime, an' 



1 82 The Grapes of Wrath 

you don't even know it's bad. Maybe they got crimes in 
California we don't even know about. Maybe you gonna do 
somepin an' it's all right, an' in California it ain't all right." 

"Be jus' the same if I wasn't on parole," he said. "On'y if 
I get caught I get a bigger jolt'n other folks. Now you quit 
a-worryin'," he said. "We got plenty to worry about 'thout 
you figgerin' out things to worry about." 

"I can't he'p it," she said. "Minute you cross the line you 
done a crime." 

"Well, tha's better'n stickin' aroun' Sallisaw an' starvin' to 
death," he said. "We better look out for a place to stop." 

They went through Bethany and out on the other side. In 
a ditch, where a culvert went under the road, an old touring 
car was pulled off the highway and a little tent was pitched 
beside it, and smoke came out of a stove pipe through the 
tent. Tom pointed ahead. "There's some folks campin'. 
Looks like as good a place as we seen." He slowed his motor 
and pulled to a stop beside the road. The hood of the old 
touring car was up, and a middle-aged man stood looking 
down at the motor. He wore a cheap straw sombrero, a blue 
shirt, and a black, spotted vest, and his jeans were stiff and 
shiny with dirt. His face was lean, the deep cheek-lines great 
furrows down his face so that his cheek bones and chin stood 
out sharply. He looked up at the Joad truck and his eyes 
were puzzled and angry. 

Tom leaned out of the window. "Any law 'gainst folks 
stoppin' here for the night?" 

The man had seen only the truck. His eyes focused down 
on Tom. "I dunno," he said. "We on'y stopped here 'cause 
we couldn' git no further." 

"Any water here?" 

The man pointed to a service-station shack about a quar- 



The Grapes of Wrath 183 

ter of a mile ahead. "They's water there they'll let ya take a 
bucket of." 

Tom hesitated. "Well, ya 'spose we could camp down 
'longside?" 

The lean man looked puzzled. "We don't own it," he said. 
"We on'y stopped here 'cause this goddamn ol' trap wouldn' 
go no further." 

Tom insisted. "Anyways you're here an' we ain't. You got 
a right to say if you wan' neighbors or not." 

The appeal to hospitality had an instant effect. The lean 
face broke into a smile. "Why, sure, come on off the road. 
Proud to have ya." And he called, "Sairy, there's some folks 
goin' ta stay with us. Come on out an' say how d'ya do. 
Sairy ain't well," he added. The tent flaps opened and a wiz- 
ened woman came out a face wrinkled as a dried leaf and 
eyes that seemed to flame in her face, black eyes that seemed 
to look out of a well of horror. She was small and shuddering. 
She held herself upright by a tent flap, and the hand holding 
onto the canvas was a skeleton covered with wrinkled skin. 

When she spoke her voice had a beautiful low timbre, soft 
and modulated, and yet with ringing overtones. "Tell 'em 
welcome," she said. "Tell 'em good an' welcome." 

Tom drove off the road and brought his truck into the 
field and lined it up with the touring car. And people boiled 
down from the truck; Ruthie and Winfield too quickly, so 
that their legs gave way and they shrieked at the pins and 
needles that ran through their limbs. Ma went quickly to 
work. She untied the three-gallon bucket from the back of 
the truck and approached the squealing children. "Now you 
go git waterright down there. Ask nice. Say, 'Please, kin 
we git a bucket a water?' and say, 'Thank you.' An' carry it 
back together helpin', an' don't spill none. An' if you see 



184 The Grapes of Wrath 

stick wood to burn, bring it on." The children stamped away 

toward the shack. 

By the tent a little embarrassment had set in, and social in- 
tercourse had paused before it started. Pa said, "You ain't 
Oldahomy folks?" 

And Al, who stood near the car, looked at the license 
plates. "Kansas," he said. 

The lean man said, "Galena, or right about there. Wilson, 
Ivy Wilson." 

"We're Joads," said Pa. "We come from right near Salli- 
saw." 

"Well, we're proud to meet you folks," said Ivy Wilson. 
"Sairy, these is Joads." 

"I knowed you wasn't Oklahomy folks. You talk queer, 
kinda that ain't no blame, you understan'." 

"Ever'body says words different," said Ivy. "Arkansas 
folks says 'em different, and Oklahomy folks says 'em differ- 
ent. And we seen a lady from Massachusetts, an' she said 'em 
differentest of all. Couldn' hardly make out what she was 



savin'." 



Noah and Uncle John and the preacher began to unload 
the truck. They helped Grampa down and sat him on the 
ground and he sat limply, staring ahead of him. "You sick, 
Grampa?" Noah asked. 

"You goddamn right," said Grampa weakly. "Sicker'n 
hell." 

Sairy Wilson walked slowly and carefully toward him. 
"How'd you like ta come in our tent?" she asked. "You kin 
lay down on our mattress an' rest." 

He looked up at her, drawn by her soft voice. "Come on 
now," she said. "You'll git some rest. We'll he'p you over." 



The Grapes of Wrath 185 

Without warning Grampa began to cry. His chin wavered 
and his old lips tightened over his mouth and he sobbed 
hoarsely. Ma rushed over to him and put her arms around 
him. She lifted him to his feet, her broad back straining, and 
she half lifted, half helped him into the tent. 

Uncle John said, "He must be good an' sick. He ain't never 
done that before. Never seen him blubberin' in my life." He 
jumped up on the truck and tossed a mattress down. 

Ma came out of the tent and went to Casy. "You been 
aroun' sick people," she said. "Grampa's sick. Won't you go 
take a look at him?" 

Casy walked quickly to the tent and went inside. A double 
mattress was on the ground, the blankets spread neatly; and 
a little tin stove stood on iron legs, and the fire in it burned 
unevenly. A bucket of water, a wooden box of supplies, and 
a box for a table, that was all. The light of the setting sun 
came pinkly through the tent walls. Sairy Wilson knelt on 
the ground, beside the mattress, and Grampa lay on his back. 
His eyes were open, staring upward, and his cheeks were 
flushed. He breathed heavily. 

Casy took the skinny old wrist in his fingers. "Feeling 
kinda tired, Grampa?" he asked. The staring eyes moved 
toward his voice but did not find him. The lips practiced a 
speech but did not speak it. Casy felt the pulse and he 
dropped the wrist and put his hand on Grampa's forehead. 
A struggle began in the old man's body, his legs moved rest- 
lessly and his hands stirred. He said a whole string of blurred 
sounds that were not words, and his face was red under the 
spiky white whiskers. 

Sairy Wilson spoke softly to Casy. "Know what's 
wrong?" 



1 86 The Grapes of Wrath 

He looked up at the wrinkled face and the burning eyes. 
"Do you?" 

"I-think so." 

" What? "Casy asked. 

"Might be wrong. I wouldn' like to say." 

Casy looked back at the twitching red face. "Would you 
say maybe he's workin' up a stroke?" 

"I'd say that," said Sairy. "I seen it three times before." 

From outside came the sounds of camp-making, wood 
chopping, and the rattle of pans. Ma looked through the flaps. 
"Granma wants to come in. Would she better?" 

The preacher said, "She'll jus' fret if she don't." 

"Think he's awright?" Ma asked. 

Casy shook his head slowly. Ma looked quickly down at 
the struggling old face with blood pounding through it. She 
drew outside and her voice came through. "He's awright, 
Granma. He's jus' takin' a little res'." 

And Granma answered sulkily, "Well, I want ta see him. 
He's a tricky devil. He wouldn't never let ya know." And 
she came scurrying through the flaps. She stood over the 
mattresses and looked down. "What's the mattcr'th you?" 
she demanded of Grampa. And again his eyes reached 
toward her voice and his lips writhed. "He's sulkin'," said 
Granma. "I toF you he was tricky. He was gonna sneak away 
this mornin' so he wouldn't have to come. An' then his hip 
got a-hurtin'," she said disgustedly. "He's jus' sulkin'. I seen 
him when he wouldn' talk to nobody before." 

Casy said gently, "He ain't sulkin', Granma. He's sick." 

"Oh!" She looked down at the old man again. "Sick bad, 
you think?" 

"Purty bad, Granma." 

For a moment she hesitated uncertainly. "Well," she said 



The Grapes of Wrath 187 

quickly, "why ain't you prayin'? You're a preacher, ain't 
you?" 

Casy's strong fingers blundered over to Grampa's wrist 
and clasped around it. "I tol' you, Granma. I ain't a preacher 
no more." 

"Pray anyway," she ordered. "You know all the stuff by 
heart." 

"I can't," said Casy. "I don' know what to pray for or 
who to pray to." 

Granma's eyes wandered away and came to rest on Sairy. 
"Fie won't pray," she said. "D'l ever tell ya how Ruthie 
prayed when she was a little skinner? Says, 'Now I lay me 
down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. An' when 
she got there the cupboard was bare, an' so the poor dog 
got none. Amen.' That's jus' what she done." The shadow 
of someone walking between the tent and the sun crossed 
the canvas. 

Grampa seemed to be struggling; all his muscles twitched. 
And suddenly he jarred as though under a heavy blow. 
He lay still and his breath was stopped. Casy looked down 
at the old man's face and saw that it was turning a blackish 
purple. Sairy touched Casy's shoulder. She whispered, "His 
tongue, his tongue, his tongue." 

Casy nodded. "Get in front a Granma." He pried the tight 
jaws apart and reached into the old man's throat for the 
tongue. And as he lifted it clear, a rattling breath came out, 
and a sobbing breath was indrawn. Casy found a stick on the 
ground and held down the tongue with it, and the uneven 
breath rattled in and out. 

Granma hopped about like a chicken. "Pray," she said. 
"Pray, you. Pray, I tell ya." Sairy tried to hold her back. 
"Pray, goddamn you!" Granma cried. 



1 88 The Grapes of Wrath 

Casy looked up at her for a moment. The rasping breath 
came louder and more unevenly. "Our Father who art in 
Heaven, hallowed be Thy name " 

"Glory!" shouted Granma. 

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it 
is in Heaven." 

"Amen." 

A long gasping sigh came from the open mouth, and then 
a crying release of air. 

"Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us" The 
breathing had stopped. Casy looked down into Grampa's 
eyes and they were clear and deep and penetrating, and there 
was a knowing serene look in them. 

"Hallelujah!" said Granma. "Go on." 

"Amen," said Casy. 

Granma was still then. And outside the tent all the noise 
had stopped. A car whished by on the highway. Casy still 
knelt on the floor beside the mattress. The people outside 
were listening, standing quietly intent on the sounds of 
dying. Sairy took Granma by the arm and led her outside, 
and Granma moved with dignity and held her head high. She 
walked for the family and held her head straight for the 
family. Sairy took her to a mattress lying on the ground and 
sat her down on it. And Granma looked straight ahead, 
proudly, for she was on show now. The tent was still, and 
at last Casy spread the tent flaps with his hands and stepped 
out. 

Pa asked softly, "What was it?" 

"Stroke," said Casy. "A good quick stroke." 

Life began to move again. The sun touched the horizon 
and flattened over it. And along the highway there came a 



The Grapes of Wrath 189 

long line of huge freight trucks with red sides. They rum- 
bled along, putting a little earthquake in the ground, and the 
standing exhaust pipes sputtered blue smoke from the Diesel 
oil. One man drove each truck, and his relief man slept in a 
bunk high up against the ceiling. But the trucks never 
stopped; they thundered day and night and the ground shook 
under their heavy march. 

The family became a unit. Pa squatted down on the 
ground, and Uncle John beside him. Pa was the head of the 
family now. Ma stood behind him. Noah and Tom and Al 
squatted, and the preacher sat down, and then reclined on his 
elbow. Connie and Rose of Sharon walked at a distance. Now 
Ruthie and Winfield, clattering up with a bucket of water 
held between them, felt the change, and they slowed up and 
set down the bucket and moved quietly to stand with Ma. 

Granma sat proudly, coldly, until the group was formed, 
until no one looked at her, and then she lay down and cov- 
ered her face with her arm. The red sun set and left a shin- 
ing twilight on the land, so that faces were bright in the 
evening and eyes shone in reflection of the sky. The evening 
picked up light where it could. 

Pa said, "It was in Mr. Wilson's tent." 

Uncle John nodded. "He loaned his tent." 

"Fine friendly folks," Pa said softly. 

Wilson stood by his broken car, and Sairy had gone to 
the mattress to sit beside Granma, but Sairy was careful not 
to touch her. 

Pa called, "Mr. Wilson!" The man scuffed near and 
squatted down, and Sairy came and stood beside him. Pa said, 
"We're thankful to you folks." 

"We're proud to help," said Wilson. 



190 The Grapes of Wrath 

"We're beholden to you," said Pa. 

"There's no beholden in a time of dying," said Wilson, anc 
Sairy echoed him, "Never no beholden." 

Al said, "I'll fix your car me an' Tom will." And A 
looked proud that he could return the family's obligation. 

"We could use some help." Wilson admitted the retiring 
of the obligation. 

Pa said, "We got to figger what to do. They's laws. Yoi 
got to report a death, an' when you do that, they either take 
forty dollars for the undertaker or they take him for a 
pauper." 

Uncle John broke in, "We never did have no paupers." 

Tom said, "Maybe we got to learn. We never got bootee 
off no land before, neither." 

"We done it clean," said Pa. "There can't no blame be laid 
on us. We never took nothin' we couldn' pay; we never suf- 
fered no man's charity. When Tom here got in trouble we 
could hold up our heads. He only done what any man would 
a done." 

"Then what'll we do?" Uncle John asked. 

"We go in like the law says an' they'll come out for him, 
We on'y got a hundred an' fifty dollars. They take forty to 
bury Grampa an' we won't get to California or else they'll 
bury him a pauper." The men stirred restively, and they 
studied the darkening ground in front of their knees. 

Pa said softly, "Grampa buried his pa with his own hand, 
done it in dignity, an' shaped the grave nice with his own 
shovel. That was a time when a man .had the right to be 
buried by his own son an' a son had the right to bury his own 
father." 

"The law says different now," said Uncle John. 

"Sometimes the law can't be foller'd no way," said Pa. 



The Grapes of Wrath 191 

"Not in decency, anyways. They's lots a times you can't. 
When Floyd was loose an' goin' wild, law said we got to give 
him up an' nobody give him up. Sometimes a fella got to 
sift the law. I'm sayin' now I got the right to bury my own 
pa. Anybody got somcpin to say?" 

The preacher rose high on his elbow. "Law changes," he 
said, "but 'got to's' go on. You got the right to do what you 
got to do." 

Pa turned to Uncle John. "It's your right too, John. You 
got any word against?" 

"No word against," said Uncle John. "On'y it's like hidin' 
him in the night. Grampa's way was t'come out a-shootin'." 

Pa said ashamedly, "We can't do like Grampa done. We 
got to get to California 'fore our money gives out." 

Tom broke in, "Sometimes fellas workin' dig up a man 
an' then they raise hell an' figger he been killed. The gov'- 
ment's got more interest in a dead man than a live one. 
They'll go hell-scrapin' tryin' to fin' out who he was and 
how he died. I offer we put a note of writin' in a bottle an' 
lay it with Grampa, tellin' who he is an' how he died, an' 
why he's buried here." 

Pa nodded agreement. "Tha's good. Wrote out in a nice 
han'. Be not so lonesome too, knowin' his name is there with 
'im, not jus' a old fella lonesome underground. Any more 
stuff to say?" The circle was silent. 

Pa turned his head to Ma. "You'll lay 'im out?" 

"I'll lay 'im out," said Ma. "But who's to get supper?" 

Sairy Wilson said, "I'll get supper. You go right ahead. 
Me an' that big girl of yourn." 

"We sure thank you," said Ma. "Noah, you get into them 
kegs an' bring out some nice pork. Salt won't be deep in it 
yet, but it'll be right nice eatin'." 



192 The Grapes of Wrath 

"We got a half sack a potatoes," said Sairy. 

Ma said, "Gimme two half-dollars." Pa dug in his pocket 
and gave her the silver. She found the basin, filled it full of 
water, and went into the tent. It was nearly dark in there. 
Sairy came in and lighted a candle and stuck it upright on a 
box and then she went out. For a moment Ma looked down 
at the dead old man. And then in pity she tore a strip from 
her own apron and tied up his jaw. She straightened his 
limbs, folded his hands over his chest. She held his eyelids 
down and laid a silver piece on each one. She buttoned his 
shirt and washed his face. 

Sairy looked in, saying, "Can I give you any help?" 

Ma looked slowly up. "Come in," she said. "I like to talk 
to ya." 

"That's a good big girl you got," said Sairy. "She's right 
in peelin' potatoes. What can I do to help?" 

"I was gonna wash Grampa all over," said Ma, "but he got 
no other clo'es to put on. An' ^course your quilt's spoilt. 
Can't never get the smell a death from a quilt. I seen a dog 
growl an' shake at a mattress my ma died on, an' that was 
two years later. We'll wrop 'im in your quilt. We'll make it 
up to you. We got a quilt for you." 

Sairy said, "You shouldn' talk like that. We're proud to 
help. I ain't felt so safe in a long time. People needsto 
help." 

Ma nodded. "They do," she said. She looked long into the 
old whiskery face, with its bound jaw and silver eyes shining 
in the candlelight. "He ain't gonna look natural. We'll wrop 
him up." 

"The oF lady took it good." 

"Why, she's so old," said Ma, "maybe she don't even 
rightly know what happened. Maybe she won't really know 



The Grapes of Wrath 193 

for quite a while. Besides, us folks takes a pride holdin' in. 
My pa used to say, 'Anybody can break down. It takes a man 
not to.' We always try to hold in." She folded the quilt 
neatly about Grampa's legs and around his shoulders. She 
brought the corner of the quilt over his head like a cowl and 
pulled it down over his face. Sairy handed her half-a-dozen 
big safety pins, and she pinned the quilt neatly and tightly 
about the long package. And at last she stood up. "It won't 
be a bad burying," she said. "We got a preacher to see him 
in, an' his folks is all aroun'." Suddenly she swayed a little, 
and Sairy went to her and steadied her. "It's sleep" Ma said 
in a shamed tone. "No, I'm awright. We been so busy gettin' 
ready, you see." 

"Come out in the air," Sairy said. 

"Yeah, I'm all done here." Sairy blew out the candle and 
the two went out. 

A bright fire burned in the bottom of the little gulch. And 
Tom, with sticks and wire, had made supports from which 
two kettles hung and bubbled furiously, and good steam 
poured out under the lids. Rose of Sharon knelt on the 
ground out of range of the burning heat, and she had a long 
spoon in her hand. She saw Ma come out of the tent, and she 
stood up and went to her. 

"Ma," she said. "I got to ask." 

"Scared again?" Ma asked. "Why, you can't get through 
nine months without sorrow." 

"But will it-hurt the baby?" 

Ma said, "They used to be a sayin', 'A chile born outa 
sorrow'll be a happy chile.' Isn't that so, Mis' Wilson?" 

"I heard it like that," said Sairy. "An' I heard the other: 
'Born outa too much joy '11 be a doleful boy.' " 

"I'm all jumpy inside," said Rose of Sharon. 



194 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well, we ain't none of us jumpin' for fun," said Ma. "You 
jes' keep watchin' the pots." 

On the edge of the ring of firelight the men had gathered. 
For tools they had a shovel and a mattock. Pa marked out the 
ground eight feet long and three feet wide. The work went 
on in relays. Pa chopped the earth with the mattock and then 
Uncle John shoveled it out. Al chopped and Tom shoveled, 
Noah chopped and Connie shoveled. And the hole drove 
down, for the work never diminished in speed. The shovels 
of dirt flew out of the hole in quick spurts. When Tom was 
shoulder deep in the rectangular pit, he said, "How deep, 
Pa?" 

"Good an' deep. A couple feet more. You get out now, 
Tom, and get that paper wrote." 

Tom boosted himself out of the hole and Noah took his 
place. Tom went to Ma, where she tended the fire. "We got 
any paper an' pen, Ma?" 

Ma shook her head slowly, "No-o. That's one thing we 
didn' bring." She looked toward Sairy. And the little woman 
walked quickly to her tent. She brought back a Bible and a 
half pencil. "Here," she said. "They's a clear page in front. 
Use that an' tear it out." She handed book and pencil to Tom. 

Tom sat down in the firelight. He squinted his eyes in con- 
centration, and at last wrote slowly and carefully on the end 
paper in big clear letters: "This here is William James Joad, 
dyed of a stroke, old old man. His fokes bured him becaws 
they got no money to pay for funerls. Nobody kilt him. Jus 
a stroke an he dyed." Fie stopped. "Ma, listen to this here." 
He read it slowly to her. 

"Why, that soun's nice," she said. "Can't you stick on 
somepin from Scripture so it'll be religious? Open up an' git 
a-sayin' somepin outa Scripture." 



The Grapes of Wrath 195 

"Gat to be short," said Tom. "I ain't got much room lef 
on the page." 

Sairy said, "How 'bout 'God have mercy on his soul'?" 

"No," said Tom. "Sounds too much like he was hung. I'll 
copy somepin." He turned the pages and read, mumbling his 
lips, saying the words under his breath. "Here's a good short 
one," he said. " *An' Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my 
Lord.' " 

"Don't mean nothin'," said Ma. "Long's you're gonna put 
one down, it might's well mean somepin." 

Sairy said, "Turn to Psalms, over further. You kin always 
get somepin outa Psalms." 

Tom flipped the pages and looked down the verses. "Now 
here is one," he said. "This here's a nice one, just bio wed full 
a religion: 'Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, 
whose sin is covered.' How's that?" 

"That's real nice," said Ma. "Put that one in." 

Tom wrote it carefully. Ma rinsed and wiped a fruit jar 
and Tom screwed the lid down tight on it. "Maybe the 
preacher ought to wrote it," he said. 

Ma said, "No, the preacher wan't no kin." She took the jar 
from him and went into the dark tent. She unpinned the 
covering and slipped the fruit jar in under the thin cold 
hands and pinned the comforter tight again. And then she 
went back to the fire. 

The men came from the grave, their faces shining with 
perspiration. "Awright," said Pa. He and John and Noah and 
Al went into the tent, and they came out carrying the long, 
pinned bundle between them. They carried it to the grave. 
Pa leaped into the hole and received the bundle in his arms 
and laid it gently down. Uncle John put out a hand and 
helped Pa out of the hole. Pa asked, "How about Granma?" 



196 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I'll see," Ma said. She walked to the mattress and looked 
down at the old woman for a moment. Then she went back 
to the grave. "Sleeping" she said. "Maybe she'd hold it against 
me, but I ain't a-gonna wake her up. She's tar'd." 

Pa said, "Where at's the preacher? We oughta have a 
prayer." 

Tom said, "I seen him walkin' down the road. He don't 
like to pray no more." 

"Don't like to pray?" 

"No," said Tom. "He ain't a preacher no more. He figgers 
it ain't right to fool people actin' like a preacher when he 
ain't a preacher. I bet he went away so nobody wouldn' ast 
him." 

Casy had come quietly near, and he heard Tom speaking. 
"I didn' run away," he said. "I'll he'p you folks, but I won't 
fool ya." 

Pa said, "Won't you say a few words? Ain't none of our 
folks ever been buried without a few words." 

"I'll say 'em," said the preacher. 

Connie led Rose of Sharon to the graveside, she reluctant. 
"You got to," Connie said. "It ain't decent not to. It'll jus' 
be a little." 

The firelight fell on the grouped people, showing their 
faces and their eyes, dwindling on their dark clothes. All the 
hats were off now. The light danced, jerking over the people. 

Casy said, "It'll be a short one." He bowed his head, and 
the others followed his lead. Casy said solemnly, "This here 
oF man jus' lived a life an' jus' died out of it. I don' know 
whether he was good or bad, but that don't matter much. He 
was alive, an' that's what matters. An' now he's dead, an' that 
don't matter. Heard a fella tell a poem one time, an' he says 
'All that lives is holy.' Got to thinkin', an' purty soon it 



The Grapes of Wrath 197 

means more than the words says. An 1 I wouldn' pray for a 
ol' fella that's dead. He's awright. He got a job to do, but it's 
all laid out for 'im an' there's on'y one way to do it. But us, 
we got a job to do, an' they's a thousan' ways, an' we don' 
know which one to take. An' if I was to pray, it'd be for the 
folks that don' know which way to turn. Grampa here, he 
got the easy straight. An' now cover 'im up and let 'im get 
to his work." He raised his head. 

Pa said, "Amen," and the others muttered, "A-men." Then 
Pa took the shovel, half filled it with dirt, and spread it gently 
into the black hole. He handed the shovel to Uncle John, and 
John dropped in a shovelful. Then the shovel went from 
hand to hand until every man had his turn. When all had 
taken their duty and their right, Pa attacked the mound of 
loose dirt and hurriedly filled the hole. The women moved 
back to the fire to see to supper. Ruthie and Winfield 
watched, absorbed. 

Ruthie said solemnly, "Grampa's down under there." And 
Winfield looked at her with horrified eyes. And then he ran 
away to the fire and sat on the ground and sobbed to himself. 

Pa half filled the hole, and then he stood panting with the 
effort while Uncle John finished it. And John was shaping 
up the mound when Tom stopped him. "Listen," Tom said. 
" T we leave a grave, they'll have it open in no time. We got 
to hide it. Level her off an' we'll strew dry grass. We got to 
do that." 

Pa said, "I didn' think a that. It ain't right to leave a grave 
unmounded." 

"Can't he'p it," said Tom. "They'd dig 'im right up, an' 
we'd get it for breakin' the law. You know what I get if I 
break the law." 

"Yeah," Pa said. "I forgot that." He took the shovel from 



198 The Grapes of Wrath 

John and leveled the grave. "She'll sink, come winter," he 

said. 

"Can't he'p that," said Tom. "We'll be a long ways off by 
winter. Tromp her in good, an' we'll strew stuff over her." 

When the pork and potatoes were done the families sat 
about on the ground and ate, and they were quiet, staring 
into the fire. Wilson, tearing a slab of meat with his teeth, 
sighed with contentment. "Nice eatin' pig," he said. 

"Well," Pa explained, "we had a couple shoats, an' we 
thought we might's well eat 'em. Can't get nothin' for them. 
When we get kinda use' ta movin' an' Ma can set up bread, 
why, it'll be pretty nice, seein' the country an' two kags a' 
pork right in the truck. How long you folks been on the 
road?" 

Wilson cleared his teeth with his tongue and swallowed. 
"We ain't been lucky," he said. "We been three weeks from 
home." 

"Why, God Awmighty, we aim to be in California in ten 
days or less." 

Al broke in, "I dunno, Pa. With that load we're packin', 
we maybe ain't never gonna get there. Not if they's moun- 
tains to go over." 

They were silent about the fire. Their faces were turned 
downward and their hair and foreheads showed in the fire- 
light. Above the little dome of the firelight the summer stars 
shone thinly, and the heat of the day was gradually with- 
drawing. On her mattress, away from, the fire, Granma 
whimpered softly like a puppy. The heads of all turned in 
her direction. 

Ma said, "Rosasharn, like a good girl go lay down with 
Granma. She needs somebody now. She's knowin', now." 



The Grapes of Wrath 199 

Rose of Sharon got to her feet and walked to the mattress 
and lay beside the old woman, and the murmur of their soft 
voices drifted to the fire. Rose of Sharon and Granma whis- 
pered together on the mattress. 

Noah said, "Funny thing is losin' Grampa ain't made me 
feel no different than I done before. I ain't no sadder than 
I was." 

"It's just the same thing," Casy said. "Grampa an' the old 
place, they was jus' the same thing." 

Al said, "It's a goddamn shame. He been talkin' what he's 
gonna do, how he gonna squeeze grapes over his head an' let 
the juice run in his whiskers, an' all stuff like that." 

Casy said, "He was foolin', all the time. I think he knowed 
it. An' Grampa didn' die tonight. He died the minute you 
took 'im off the place." 

"You sure a that?" Pa cried. 

"Why, no. Oh, he was breathin'," Casy went on, "but he 
was dead. He was that place, an' he knowed it." 

Uncle John said, "Did you know he was a-dyin'?" 

"Yeah," said Casy. "I knowed it." 

John gazed at him, and a horror grew in his face. "An' you 
didn' tell nobody?" 

"What good?" Casy asked. 

"We we might of did somepin." 

"What?" 

"I don' know, but " 

"No," Casy said, "you couldn' a done nothin'. Your way 
was fixed an' Grampa didn' have no part in it. He didn' suffer 
none. Not after fust thing this mornin'. He's jus' stay in 5 with 
the Ian'. He couldn' leave it." 

Uncle John sighed deeply. 

Wilson said, "We hadda leave my brother Will." The 



2oo The Grapes of Wrath 

heads turned toward him. "Him an' me had forties side by 
side. He's older'n me. Neither one ever drove a car. Well, we 
went in an' we sol' ever' thing. Will, he bought a car, an' they 
give him a kid to show 'im how to use it. So the afternoon 
'fore we're gonna start, Will an' Aunt Minnie go a-practicin'. 
Will, he comes to a bend in the road an' he yells 'Whoa' an' 
yanks back, an' he goes through a fence. An' he yells 'Whoa, 
you bastard' an' tromps down on the gas an' goes over into a 
gulch. An' there he was. Didn't have nothin' more to sell an' 
didn't have no car. But it were his own damn fault, praise 
God. He's so damn mad he won't come along with us, jus' 
set there a-cussin' an' a-cussin'." 

"What's he gonna do?" 

"I dunno. He's too mad to figger. An' we couldn' wait. 
On'y had eighty-five dollars to go on. We couldn' set an' cut 
it up, but we et it up anyways. Didn' go a hunderd mile 
when a tooth in the rear end bust, an' cost thirty dollars to 
get her fix', an' then we got to get a tire, an' then a spark plug 
cracked, an' Sairy got sick. Had ta stop ten days. An' now 
the goddamn car is bust again, an' money's gettin' low. I 
dunno when we'll ever get to California. 'F I could on'y fix a 
car, but I don' know nothin' about cars." 

Al asked importantly, "What's the matter?" 

"Well, she jus' won't run. Starts an' farts an' stops. In a 
minute she'll start again, an' then 'fore you can git her goin', 
she peters out again." 

"Runs a minute an' then dies?" 

"Yes, sir. An' I can't keep her a-goin' no matter how much 
gas I give her. Got worse an' worse, an' now I cain't get her 
a-movin' a-tall." 

Al was very proud and very mature, then. "I think you got 
a plugged gas line. I'll blow her out for ya." 



The Grapes of Wrath 201 

And Pa was proud too. "He's a good hand with a car," 
Pa said. 

"Well, Til sure thank ya for a han'. I sure will. Makes a 
fella kinda feel like a little kid, when he can't fix nothin'. 
When we get to California I aim to get me a nice car. Maybe 
she won't break down." 

Pa said, "When we get there. Gettin' there's the trouble." 

"Oh, but she's worth it," said Wilson. "Why, I seen han'- 
bills how they need folks to pick fruit, an' good wages. Why, 
jus' think how it's gonna be, under them shady trees a-pickin' 
fruit an' takin' a bite ever' once in a while. Why, hell, they 
don't care how much you eat 'cause they got so much. An' 
with them good wages, maybe a fella can get hisself a little 
piece a land an' work out for extra cash. Why, hell, in a 
couple years I bet a fella could have a place of his own." 

Pa said, "We seen them han'bills. I got one right here." He 
took out his purse and from it took a folded orange handbill. 
In black type it said, "Pea Pickers Wanted in California. 
Good Wages All Season. 800 Pickers Wanted." 

Wilson looked at it curiously. "Why, that's the one I seen. 
The very same one. You s'pose maybe they got all eight 
hunderd awready?" 

Pa said, "This is jus' one little part a California. Why, 
that's the secon' biggest State we got. S'pose they did get all 
them eight hunderd. They's plenty places else. I rather pick 
fruit anyways. Like you says, under them trees an' pickin' 
fruit why, even the kids'd like to do that." 

Suddenly Al got up and walked to the Wilsons' touring 
car. He looked in for a moment and then came back and sat 
down. 

"You can't fix her tonight," Wilson said. 

"I know. I'll get to her in the morning." 



202 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom had watched his young brother carefully. "I was 
thinkin' somepin like that myself," he said. 

Noah asked, "What you two fellas talkin' about?" 

Tom and Al were silent, each waiting for the other. "You 
tell 'em," Al said finally. 

"Well, maybe it's no good, an' maybe it ain't the same 
thing Al's thinking. Here she is, anyways. We got a over- 
load, but Mr. an' Mis' Wilson ain't. If some of us folks could 
ride with them an' take some a their light stuff in the truck, 
we wouldn't break no springs an' we could git up hills. An' 
me an' Al both knows about a car, so we could keep that car 
a-rollin'. We'd keep together on the road an' it'd be good for 
ever'body." 

Wilson jumped up. "Why, sure. Why, we'd be proud. We 
certain'y would. You hear that, Sairy?" 

"It's a nice thing," said Sairy. "Wouldn' be a burden on 
you folks?" 

"No, by God," said Pa. "Wouldn't be no burden at all. 
You'd be helpin' us." 

Wilson settled back uneasily. "Well, I dunno." 

"What's a matter, don' you wanta?" 

"Well, ya see I on'y got 'bout thirty dollars lef, an' I 
won't be no burden." 

Ma said, "You won't be no burden. Each'll help each, an' 
we'll all git to California. Sairy Wilson he'ped lay Grampa 
out," and she stopped. The relationship was plain. 

Al cried, "That car'll take six easy. Say me to drive, an* 
Rosasharn an' Connie and Granma. Then we take the big 
light stuff an' pile her on the truck. An' we'll trade off ever' 
so often." He spoke loudly, for a load of worry was lifted 
from him. 

They smiled shyly and looked down at the ground. Pa 



The Grapes of Wrath 203 

fingered the dusty earth with his fingertips. He said, "Ma 
favors a white house with oranges growin' around. They's 
a big pitcher on a calendar she seen." 

Sairy said, "If I get sick again, you got to go on an' get 
there. We ain't a-goin' to burden." 

Ma looked carefully at Sairy, and she seemed to see for the 
first time the pain-tormented eyes and the face that was 
haunted and shrinking with pain. And Ma said, "We gonna 
see you get through. You said yourself, you can't let help go 
unwanted." 

Sairy studied her wrinkled hands in the firelight. "We got 
to get some sleep tonight." She stood up. 

"Grampa it's like he's dead a year," Ma said. 

The families moved lazily to their sleep, yawning luxuri- 
ously. Ma sloshed the tin plates off a little and rubbed the 
grease free with a flour sack. The fire died down and the 
stars descended. Few passenger cars went by on the highway 
now, but the transport trucks thundered by at intervals and 
put little earthquakes in the ground. In the ditch the cars 
were hardly visible under the starlight. A tied dog howled at 
the service station down the road. The families were quiet 
and sleeping, and the field mice grew bold and scampered 
about among the mattresses. Only Sairy Wilson was awake. 
She stared into the sky and braced her body firmly against 
pain. 



Chapter Fourteen 

r* I 1HE western land, nervous under the beginning 
I change. The Western States, nervous as horses before 
JL a thunder storm. The great owners, nervous, sensing 
a change, knowing nothing of the nature of the change. The 
great owners, striking at the immediate thing, the widening 
government, the growing labor unity; striking at new taxes, 
at plans; not knowing these things are results, not causes. 
Results, not causes; results, not causes. The causes lie deep 
and simply the causes are a hunger in a stomach, multiplied 
a million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and 
some security, multiplied a million times; muscles and mind 
aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied a million 
times. The last clear definite function of man muscles ach- 
ing to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need 
this is man. To build a wall, to build a house, a dam, and in 
the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and 
to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the 
dam; to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take the clear 
lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike any other 
thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his 
work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of 
his accomplishments. This you may say of man when theo- 
ries change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when nar- 
row dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, 

204 



The Grapes of Wrath 205 

grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, pain- 
fully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he 
may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. 
This you may say and know it and know it. This you may 
know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on 
the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when 
the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust. You may know 
it in this way. If the step were not being taken, if the 
stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not 
fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the 
bombs stop falling while the bombers live for every bomb 
is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time when 
the strikes stop while the great owners live for every little 
beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this 
you can know fear the time when Manself will not suffer 
and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation 
of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the 
universe. 

The Western States nervous under the beginning change. 
Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas, New Mexico, 
Arizona, California. A single family moved from the land. 
Pa borrowed money from the bank, and now the bank wants 
the land. The land company that's the bank when it has land 
wants tractors, not families on the land. Is a tractor bad? Is 
the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor 
were ours it would be good not mine, but ours. If our trac- 
tor turned the long furrows of our land, it would be good. 
Not my land, but ours. We could love that tractor then as 
we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor 
does two things it turns the land and turns us off the land. 
There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The 



206 The Grapes of Wrath 

people are driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think 
about this. 

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car 
creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a 
single tractor took my land. I am alone and I am bewildered. 
And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another 
family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat 
on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the 
node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these 
two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each 
other. Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the 
zygote. For here "I lost my land" is changed; a cell is split 
and from its splitting grows the thing you hate "We lost our 
land." The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and 
perplexed as one. And from this first u we" there grows a still 
more dangerous thing: "I have a little food" plus "I have 
none." If from this problem the sum is "We have a little 
food," the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. 
Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are 
ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side- 
meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; 
behind, the children listening with their souls to words their 
minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby 
has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It's wool. It was my moth- 
er's blanket take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. 
This is the beginning from "I" to "we." 

If you who own the things people must have could under- 
stand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could sepa- 
rate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, 
Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. 
But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes 
you forever into "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we." 



The Grapes of Wrath 207 

The Western States are nervous under the beginning 

change. Need is the stimulus to concept, concept to action. 

A half-million people moving over the country; a million 

more restive, ready to move; ten million more feeling the 

first nervousness. 

And tractors turning the multiple furrows in the vacant 

land. 



Chapter Fifteen 



A.ONG 66 the hamburger stands-Al & Susy's Place 
Carl's Lunch Joe & Minnie Will's Eats. Board- 
and-bat shacks. Two gasoline pumps in front, a 
screen door, a long bar, stools, and a foot rail. Near the door 
three slot machines, showing through glass the wealth in 
nickels three bars will bring. And beside them, the nickel 
phonograph with records piled up like pies, ready to swing 
out to the turntable and play dance mUvSic, "Ti-pi-ti-pi-tin," 
"Thanks for the Memory," Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman. 
At one end of the counter a covered case; candy cough 
drops, caffeine sulphate called Sleepless, No-Doze; candy, 
cigarettes, razor blades, aspirin, Bromo-Seltzer, Alka-Seltzer. 
The walls decorated with posters, bathing girls, blondes with 
big breasts and slender hips and waxen faces, in white bath- 
ing suits, and holding a bottle of Coca-Cola and smiling see 
what you get with a Coca-Cola. Long bar, and salts, peppers, 
mustard pots, and paper napkins. Beer taps behind the coun- 
ter, and in back the coffee urns, shiny and steaming, with 
glass gauges showing the coffee level. And pies in wire cages 
and oranges in pyramids of four. And little piles of Post 
Toasties, corn flakes, stacked up in designs. 

The signs on cards, picked out with shining mica: Pies Like 
Mother Used to Make. Credit Makes Enemies, Let's Be 
Friends. Ladies May Sruoke But Be Careful Where You Lay 

208 



The Grapes of Wrath 209 

Your Butts. Eat Here and Keep Your Wife for a Pet. 
IITYWYBAD? 

Down at one end the cooking plates, pots of stew, pota- 
toes, pot roast, roast beef, gray roast pork waiting to be 
sliced. 

Minnie or Susy or Mae, middle-aging behind the counter, 
hair curled and rouge and powder on a sweating face. Tak- 
ing orders in a soft low voice, calling them to the cook with 
a screech like a peacock. Mopping the counter with circular 
strokes, polishing the big shining coffee urns. The cook is 
Joe or Carl or Al, hot in a white coat and apron, beady sweat 
on white forehead, below the white cook's cap; moody, 
rarely speaking, looking up for a moment at each new entry. 
Wiping the griddle, slapping down the hamburger. He re- 
peats Mae's orders gently, scrapes the griddle, wipes it down 
with burlap. Moody and silent. 

Mae is the contact, smiling, irritated, near to outbreak; 
smiling while her eyes look on past unless for truck drivers. 
There's the backbone of the joint. Where the trucks stop, 
that's where the customers come. Can't fool truck drivers, 
they know. They bring the custom. They know. Give 'em a 
stale cup a coffee an' they're off the joint. Treat 'em right an' 
they come back. Mae really smiles with all her might at truck 
drivers. She bridles a little, fixes her back hair so that her 
breasts will lift with her raised arms, passes the time of day 
and indicates great things, great times, great jokes. Al never 
speaks. He is no contact. Sometimes he smiles a little at a 
joke, but he never laughs. Sometimes he looks up at; the viva- 
ciousness in Mae's voice, and then he scrapes the griddle with 
a spatula, scrapes the grease into an iron trough around the 
plate, He presses down a hissing hamburger with his spatula. 
He lays the split buns on the plate to toast and heat. He gath- 



2io The Grapes of Wrath 

ers up stray onions from the plate and heaps them on the 
meat and presses them in with the spatula. He puts half the 
bun on top of the meat, paints the other half with melted 
butter, with thin pickle relish. Holding the bun on the meat, 
he slips the spatula under the thin pad of meat, flips it over, 
lays the buttered half on top, and drops the hamburger on a 
small plate. Quarter of a dill pickle, two black olives beside 
the sandwich. Al skims the plate down the counter like a 
quoit. And he scrapes his griddle with the spatula and looks 
moodily at the stew kettle. 

Cars whisking by on 66. License plates. Mass., Tenn., 
R.I., N.Y., Vt., Ohio. Going west. Fine cars, cruising at 
sixty-five. 

There goes one of them Cords. Looks like a coffin on 
wheels. 

But, Jesus, how they travel! 

See that La Salle? Me for that. I ain't a hog. I go for a 
La Salle. 

'F ya goin' big, what's a matter with a Cad'? Jus' a little 
bigger, little faster. 

I'd take a Zephyr myself. You ain't ridin' no fortune, but 
you got class an' speed. Give me a Zephyr. 

Well, sir, you may get a laugh outa this I'll take a Buick- 
Puick. That's good enough. 

But, hell, that costs in the Zephyr class an' it ain't got the 
sap. 

I don' care. I don' want nothin' to do with nothing of 
Henry Ford's. I don' like 'im. Never did. Got a brother 
worked in the plant. Oughta hear him tell. 

Well, a Zephyr got sap. 

The big cars on the highway. Languid, heat-raddled ladies, 
small nucleuses about whom revolve a thousand accoutcr- 



The Grapes of Wrath 2 1 1 

ments: creams, ointments to grease themselves, coloring mat- 
ter in phials black, pink, red, white, green, silver to change 
the color of hair, eyes, lips, nails, brows, lashes, lids. Oils, 
seeds, and pills to make the bowels move. A bag of bottles, 
syringes, pills, powders, fluids, jellies to make their sexual 
intercourse safe, odorless, and unproductive. And this apart 
from clothes. What a hell of a nuisance! 

Lines of weariness around the eyes, lines of discontent 
down from the mouth, breasts lying heavily in little ham- 
mocks, stomach and thighs straining against cases of rubber. 
And the mouths panting, the eyes sullen, disliking sun and 
wind and earth, resenting food and weariness, hating time 
that rarely makes them beautiful and always makes them old. 

Beside them, little pot-bellied men in light suits and pan- 
ama hats; clean, pink men with puzzled, worried eyes, with 
restless eyes. Worried because formulas do not work out; 
hungry for security and yet sensing its disappearance from 
the earth. In their lapels the insignia of lodges and service 
clubs, places where they can go and, by a weight of numbers 
of little worried men, reassure themselves that business is 
noble and not the curious ritualized thievery they know it is; 
that business men are intelligent in spite of the records of 
their stupidity; that they are kind and charitable in spite of 
the principles of sound business; that their lives are rich in- 
stead of the thin tiresome routines they know; and that a 
time is coming when they will not be afraid any more. 

And these two, going to California; going to sit in the 
lobby of the Beverly- Wilshire Hotel and watch people they 
envy go by, to look at mountains mountains, mind you, and 
great trees he with his worried eyes and she thinking how 
the sun will dry her skin. Going to look at the Pacific Ocean, 
and I'll bet a hundred thousand dollars to nothing at all, he 



2 1 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

will say, "It isn't as big as I thought it would be." And she will 
envy plump young bodies on the beach. Going to California 
really to go home again. To say, "So-and-So was at the 
table next to us at the Trocadero. She's really a mess, but she 
does wear nice clothes." And he, "I talked to good sound 
business men out there. They don't see a chance till we get 
rid of that fellow in the White House." And, "I got it from a 
man in the know she has syphilis, you know. She was in that 
Warner picture. Man said she'd slept her way into pictures. 
Well, she got what she was looking for." But the worried 
eyes are never calm, and the pouting mouth is never glad. 
The big car cruising along at sixty. 

I want a cold drink. 

Well, there's something up ahead. Want to stop? 

Do you think it would be clean? 

Clean as you're going to find in this God-forsaken 
country. 

Well, maybe the bottled soda will be all right. 

The great car squeals and pulls to a stop. The fat worried 
man helps his wife out. 

Mae looks at and past them as they enter. Al looks up from 
his griddle, and down again. Mae knows. They'll drink a 
five-cent soda and crab that it ain't cold enough. The woman 
will use six paper napkins and drop them on the floor. The 
man will choke and try to put the blame on Mae. The 
woman will sniff as though she smelled rotting meat and they 
will go out again and tell forever afterward that the people 
in the West are sullen. And Mae, when she is alone with Al, 
has a name for them. She calls them shitheels. 

Truck drivers. That's the stuff. 

Here's a big transport comin'. Hope they stop; take away 



The Grapes of Wrath 2 1 3 

the taste of them shitheels. When I worked in that hotel in 
Albuquerque, Al, the way they steal ever' darn thing. An' 
the bigger the car they got, the more they steal towels, 
silver, soap dishes. I can't figger it. 

And Al, morosely, Where ya think they get them big 
cars and stuff? Born with 'em? You won't never have nothin'. 

The transport truck, a driver and relief. How 'bout 
stoppin' for a cup a Java? I know this dump. 

How's the schedule? 

Oh, we're ahead! 

Pull up, then. They's a ol' war horse in here that's a kick. 
Good Java, too. 

The truck pulls up. Two men in khaki riding trousers, 
boots, short jackets, and shiny- visored military caps. Screen 
doorslam. 

H'ya, Mae? 

Well, if it ain't Big Bill the Rat! When'd you get back on 
this run? 

Week ago. 

The other man puts a nickel in the phonograph, watches 
the disk slip free and the turntable rise up under it. Bing 
Crosby's voice golden. "Thanks for the memory, of sun- 
burn at the shore You might have been a headache, but you 
never were a bore" And the truck driver sings for Mae's 
ears, you might have been a haddock but you never was a 
whore- 
Mae laughs. Who's ya frien', Bill? New on this run, 
ain't he? 

The other puts a nickel in the slot machine, wins four 
slugs, and puts them back. Walks to the counter. 

Well, what's it gonna be? 



214 The Grapes of Wrath 

Oh, cup a Java. Kinda pie ya got? 

Banana cream, pineapple cream, chocolate cream an' 
apple. 

Make it apple. Wait Kind is that big thick one? 

Mae lifts it out and sniffs it. Banana cream. 

Cut off a hunk; make it a big hunk. 

Man at the slot machine says, Two all around. 

Two it is. Seen any new etchin's lately, Bill? 

Well, here's one. 

Now, you be careful front of a lady. 

Oh, this ain't bad. Little kid comes in late ta school. 
Teacher says, "Why ya late?" Kid says, "Had a take a heifer 
down get 'er bred." Teacher says, "Couldn't your ol' man 
do it?" Kid says, "Sure he could, but not as good as the bull." 

Mae squeaks with laughter, harsh screeching laughter. AI, 
slicing onions carefully on a board, looks up and smiles, and 
then looks down again. Truck drivers, that's the stuff. Gonna 
leave a quarter each for Mae. Fifteen cents for pie an' coffee 
an' a dime for Mae. An' they ain't tryin' to make her, neither. 

Sitting together on the stools, spoons sticking up out of the 
coffee mugs. Passing the time of day. And Al, rubbing down 
his griddle, listening but making no comment. Bing Crosby's 
voice stops. The turntable drops down and the record swings 
into its place in the pile. The purple light goes off. The 
nickel, which has caused all this mechanism to work, has 
caused Crosby to sing and an orchestra to play this nickel 
drops from between the contact points into the box where 
the profits go. This nickel, unlike most money, has actually 
done a job of work, has been physically responsible for a 
reaction. 

Steam spurts from the valve of the coffee urn. The com- 
pressor of the ice machine chugs softly for a time and then 



The Grapes of Wrath 2 1 5 

stops. The electric fan in the corner waves its head slowly 
back and forth, sweeping the room with a warm breeze. On 
the highway, on 66, the cars whiz by. 

They was a Massachusetts car stopped a while ago, said 
Mac. 

Big Bill grasped his cup around the top so that the spoon 
stuck up between his first and second fingers. He drew in a 
snort of air with the coffee, to cool it. "You ought to be out 
on 66. Cars from all over the country. All headin' west. 
Never seen so many before. Sure some honeys on the road." 

"We seen a wreck this mornin'," his companion said. "Big 
car. Big Cad', a special job and a honey, low, cream-color, 
special job. Hit a truck. Folded the radiator right back into 
the driver. Must a been doin' ninety. Steerin' wheel went 
right on through the guy an' lef him a-wigglin' like a frog 
on a hook. Peach of a car. A honey. You can have her for 
peanuts now. Drivin' alone, the guy was." 

Al looked up from his work. "Hurt the truck?" 

"Oh, Jesus Christ! Wasn't a truck. One of them cut-down 
cars full a stoves an' pans an' mattresses an' kids an' chickens. 
Coin' west, you know. This guy come by us doin' ninety 
r'ared up on two wheels just to pass us, an' a car's comin' so 
he cuts in an' whangs this here truck. Drove like he's blin' 
drunk. Jesus, the air was full a bed clothes an' chickens an' 
kids. Killed one kid. Never seen such a mess. We pulled up. 
Ol' man that's drivin' the truck, he jus' Stan's there lookin' 
at that dead kid. Can't get a word out of 'im. Jus' rum-dumb. 
God Almighty, the road is full a them families goin' west. 
Never seen so many. Gets worse all a time. Wonder where 
the hell they all come from?" 

"Wonder where they all go to," said Mae. "Come here for 
gas sometimes, but they don't hardly never buy nothin' else. 



2 1 6 The Grapes of Wrath 

People says they steal. We ain't got nothin' layin' around. 
They never stole nothin' from us." 

Big Bill, munching his pie, looked up the road through the 
screened window. "Better tie your stuff down. I think you 
got some of 'em comin' now." 

A 1926 Nash sedan pulled wearily off the highway. The 
back seat was piled nearly to the ceiling with sacks, with 
pots and pans, and on the very top, right up against the ceil- 
ing, two boys rode. On the top of the car, a mattress and a 
folded tent; tent poles tied along the running board. The car 
pulled up to the gas pumps. A dark-haired, hatchet-faced 
man got slowly out. And the two boys slid down from the 
load and hit the ground. 

Mae -walked around the counter and stood in the door. 
The man was dressed in gray wool trousers and a blue shirt, 
dark blue with sweat on the back and under the arms. The 
boys in overalls and nothing else, ragged patched overalls. 
Their hair was light, and it stood up evenly all over their 
heads, for it had been roached. Their faces were streaked 
with dust. They went directly to the mud puddle under the 
hose and dug their toes into the mud. 

The man asked, "Can we git some water, ma'am?" 

A look of annoyance crossed Mae's face. "Sure, go ahead." 
She said softly over her shoulder, "I'll keep my eye on the 
hose." She watched while the man slowly unscrewed the 
radiator cap and ran the hose in. 

A woman in the car, a flaxen-haired woman, said, "See if 
you can't git it here." 

The man turned off the hose and screwed on the cap again. 
The little boys took the hose from him and they upended it 
and drank thirstily. The man took off his dark, stained hat 



The Grapes of Wrath 2 1 7 

and stood with a curious humility in front of the screen. 
"Could you see your way to sell us a loaf of bread, ma'am?" 

Mae said, "This ain't a grocery store. We got bread to 
make san'widges." 

"I know, ma'am." His humility was insistent. u We need 
bread and there ain't nothin' for quite a piece, they say." 

" 'F we sell bread we gonna run out." Mae's tone was 
faltering. 

"We're hungry," the man said. 

"Whyn't you buy a san'widge? We got nice san'widges, 
hamburgs." 

"We'd sure admire to do that, ma'am. But we can't. We 
got to make a dime do all of us." And he said embarrassedly, 
"We ain't got but a little." 

Mae said, "You can't get no loaf a bread for a dime. We 
only got fifteen-cent loafs." 

From behind her Al growled, "God Almighty, Mae, give 
'em bread." 

"We'll run out 'fore the bread truck comes." 

"Run out, then, goddamn it," said Al. And he looked 
sullenly down at the potato salad he was mixing. 

Mae shrugged her plump shoulders and looked to the 
truck drivers to show them what she was up against. 

She held the screen door open and the man came in, bring- 
ing a smell of sweat with him. The boys edged in behind him 
and they went immediately to the candy case and stared in 
not with craving or with hope or even with desire, but just 
with a kind of wonder that such things could be. They were 
alike in size and their faces were alike. One scratched his 
dusty ankle with the toe nails of his other foot. The other 
whispered some soft message and then they straightened 



218 The Grapes of Wrath 

their arms so that their clenched fists in the overall pockets 

showed through the thin blue cloth. 

Mae opened a drawer and took out a long waxpaper- 
wrapped loaf. "This here is a fifteen-cent loaf." 

The man put his hat back on his head. He answered with 
inflexible humility, "Won't you can't you see your way to 
cut off ten cents' worth?" 

Al said snarlingly, "Goddamn it, Mac. Give 'em the loaf." 

The man turned toward Al. "No, we want ta buy ten 
cents' worth of it. We got it figgered awful close, mister, to 
get to California." 

Mae said resignedly, "You can have this for ten cents." 

"That'd be robbin' you, ma'am." 

"Go ahead Al says to take it." She pushed the wax- 
papered loaf across the counter. The man took a deep leather 
pouch from his rear pocket, untied the strings, and spread it 
open. It was heavy with silver and with greasy bills. 

"May soun' funny to be so tight," he apologized. "We got 
a thousan' miles to go, an' we don' know if we'll make it." 
He dug in the pouch with a forefinger, located a dime, and 
pinched in for it. When he put it down on the counter he 
had a penny with it. He was about to drop the penny back 
into the pouch when his eye fell on the boys frozen before 
the candy counter. He moved slowly dow) to them. He 
pointed in the case at big long sticks of strip* i peppermint. 
"Is them penny candy, ma'am?" 

Mae moved down and looked in. "Which ones?" 

"There, them stripy ones." 

The little boys raised their eyes to her face and they 
stopped breathing; their mouths were partly opened, their 
half-naked bodies were rigid. 

"Oh them. Well, no them's two for a penny." 



The Grapes of Wrath 219 

"Well, gimme two then, ma'am." He placed the copper 
cent carefully on the counter. The boys expelled their held 
breath softly. Mae held the big sticks out. 

"Take 'em," said the man. 

They reached timidly, each took a stick, and they held 
them down at their sides and did not look at them. But they 
looked at each other, and their mouth corners smiled rigidly 
with embarrassment. 

"Thank you, ma'am." The man picked up the bread and 
went out the door, andhthe little boys marched stiffly behind 
him, the red-striped sticks held tightly against their legs. 
They leaped like chipmunks over the front seat and onto the 
top of the load, and they burrowed back out of sight like 
chipmunks. 

The man got in and started his car, and with a roaring 
motor and a cloud of blue oily smoke the ancient Nash 
climbed up on the highway and went on its way to the west. 

From inside the restaurant the truck drivers and Mae and 
Al stared after them. 

Big Bill wheeled back. "Them wasn't two-for-a-cent 
candy," he said. 

"What's that to you?" Mae said fiercely. 

"Them was nickel apiece candy," said Bill. 

"We got to get goin'," said the other man. "We're drop- 
pin' time." They reached in their pockets. Bill put a coin on 
the counter and the other man looked at it and reached again 
and put down a coin. They swung around and walked to the 
door. 

"So long," said Bill. 

Mae called, "Hey! Wait a minute. You got change." 

"You go to hell," said Bill, and the screen door slammed. 

Mae watched them get into the great truck, watched it 



220 The Grapes of Wrath 

lumber off in low gear, and heard the shift up the whining 

gears to cruising ratio. "Al " she said softly. 

He looked up from the hamburger he was patting thin and 
stacking between waxed papers. "What ya want?" 

"Look there." She pointed at the coins beside the cups- 
two half-dollars. Al walked near and looked, and then he 
went back to his work. 

"Truck drivers," Mae said reverently, "an' after them 
shitheels." 

Flies struck the screen with little bumps and droned away. 
The compressor chugged for a time and then stopped. On 66 
the traffic whizzed by, trucks and fine streamlined cars and 
jalopies; and they went by with a vicious whiz. Mae took 
down the plates and scraped the pie crusts into a bucket. She 
found her damp cloth and wiped the counter with circular 
sweeps. And her eyes were on the highway, where life 
whizzed by. 

Al wiped his hands on his apron. He looked at a paper 
pinned to the wall over the griddle. Three lines of marks in 
columns on the paper. Al counted the longest line. He 
w r alked along the counter to the cash register, rang "No 
Sale," and took out a handful of nickels. 

"What ya doin'?" Mae asked. 

"Number three's ready to pay off," said Al. He went to 
the third slot machine and played his nickels in, and on the 
fifth spin of the wheels the three bars came up and the jack 
pot dumped out into the cup. Al gathered up the big hand- 
ful of coins and went back of the counter. He dropped them 
in the drawer and slammed the cash register. Then he went 
back to his place and crossed out the line of dots. "Number 
three gets more play'n the others," he said. "Maybe I ought 



The Grapes of Wrath 221 

to shift 'em around." He lifted a lid and stirred the slowly 
simmering stew. 

"I wonder what they'll do in California?" said Mae. 

"Who?" 

"Them folks that was just in." 

"Christ knows," said Al. 

"S'pose they'll get work?" 

"How the hell would I know?" said Al. 

She stared eastward along the highway. "Here comes a 
transport, double. Wonder if they stop? Hope they do." 
And as the huge truck came heavily down from the highway 
and parked, Mae seized her cloth and wiped the whole length 
of the counter. And she took a few swipes at the gleaming 
coffee urn too, and turned up the bottle-gas under the urn. 
Al brought out a handful of little turnips and started to peel 
them. Mae's face was gay when the door opened and the two 
uniformed truck drivers entered. 

"Hi, sister!" 

"I won't be a sister to no man," said Mae. They laughed 
and Mae laughed. "What'll it be, boys?" 

"Oh, a cup a Java. What kinda pie ya got?" 

"Pineapple cream an' banana cream an' chocolate cream 
an' apple." 

"Give me apple. No, wait what's that big thick one?" 

Mae picked up the pie and smelled it. "Pineapple cream," 
she said. 

"Well, chop out a hunk a that." 

The cars whizzed viciously by on 66. 



Chapter Sixteen 



TOADS and Wilsons crawled westward as a unit: El Reno 

I and Bridgeport, Clinton, Elk City, Sayre, and Texola. 

I There's the border, and Oklahoma was behind. And this 

day the cars crawled on and on, through the Panhandle of 

Texas. Shamrock and Alanreed, Groom and Yarnell. Then 

went through Amarillo in the evening, drove too long, and 

camped when it was dusk. They were tired and dusty and 

hot. Granma had convulsions from the heat, and she was 

weak when they stopped. 

That night Al stole a fence rail and made a ridge pole on 
the truck, braced at both ends. That night they ate nothing 
but pan biscuits, cold and hard, held over from breakfast. 
They flopped down on the mattresses and slept in their 
clothes. The Wilsons didn't even put up their tent. 

Joads and Wilsons were in flight across the Panhandle, the 
rolling gray country, lined and cut with old flood scars. 
They were in flight out of Oklahoma and across Texas. The 
land turtles crawled through the dust and the sun whipped 
the earth, and in the evening the heat went out of the sky 
and the earth sent up a wave of heat from itself. 

Two days the families were in flight, but on the third the 
land was too huge for them and they settled into a new tech- 
nique of living; the highway became their home and move- 
ment their medium of expression. Little by little they settled 
into the new life. Ruthie and Winfield first, then Al, then 



The Grapes of Wrath 223 

Connie and Rose of Sharon, and, last, the older ones. The land 
rolled like great stationary ground swells. Wildorado and 
Vega and Boise and Glenrio. That's the end of Texas. New 
Mexico and the mountains. In the far distance, waved up 
against the sky, the mountains stood. And the wheels of the 
cars creaked around, and the engines were hot, and the steam 
spurted around the radiator caps. They crawled to the Pecos 
river, and crossed at Santa Rosa. And they went on for 
twenty miles. 

Al Joad drove the touring car, and his mother sat beside 
him, and Rose of Sharon beside her. Ahead the truck 
crawled. The hot air folded in waves over the land, and the 
mountains shivered in the heat. Al drove listlessly, hunched 
back in the seat, his hand hooked easily over the cross-bar of 
the steering wheel; his gray hat, peaked and pulled to an in- 
credibly cocky shape, was low over one eye; and as he drove, 
he turned and spat out the side now and then. 

Ma, beside him, had folded her hands in her lap, had retired 
into a resistance against weariness. She sat loosely, letting the 
movement of the car sway her body and her head. She 
squinted her eyes ahead at the mountains. Rose of Sharon 
was braced against the movement of the car, her feet pushed 
tight against the floor, and her right elbow hooked over the 
door. And her plump face was tight against the movement, 
and her head jiggled sharply because her neck muscles were 
tight. She tried to arch her whole body as a rigid container 
to preserve her fetus from shock. She turned her head to- 
ward her mother. 

"Ma," she said. Ma's eyes lighted up and she drew her at- 
tention toward Rose of Sharon. Her eyes went over the tight, 
tired, plump face, and she smiled. "Ma," the girl said, "when 



224 The Grapes of Wrath 

we get there, all you gonna pick fruit an' kinda live in the 

country, ain't you?" 

Ma smiled a little satirically. "We ain't there yet," she said. 
"We don't know what it's like. We got to see." 

"Me an' Connie don't want to live in the country no 
more," the girl said. "We got it all planned up what we 
gonna do." 

For a moment a little worry came on Ma's face. "Ain't you 
gonna stay with us with the family?" she asked. 

"Well, we talked all about it, me an' Connie. Ma, we 
wanna live in a town." She went on excitedly, "Connie gonna 
get a job in a store or maybe a fact'ry. An' he's gonna study 
at home, maybe radio, so he can git to be a expert an' maybe 
later have his own store. An' we'll go to pitchers whenever. 
An' Connie says I'm gonna have a doctor when the baby's 
born; an' he says we'll see how times is, an' maybe I'll go to a 
hospiddle. An' we'll have a car, little car. An' after he studies 
at night, why it'll be nice, an' he tore a page outa Western 
Love Stories, an' he's gonna send off for a course, 'cause it 
don't cost nothin' to send off. Says right on that clipping. I 
seen it. An', why they even get you a job when you take 
that course radios, it is nice clean work, and a future. An' 
we'll live in town an' go to pitchers whenever, an' well, I'm 
gonna have a 'lectric iron, an' the baby'll have all new stuff. 
Connie says all new stuff white an' Well, you seen in the 
catalogue all the stuff they got for a baby. Maybe right at 
first while Connie's studyin' at home it won't be so easy, but 
well, when the baby comes, maybe he'll be all done study- 
in' an' we'll have a place, little bit of a place. We don't want 
nothin' fancy, but we want it nice for the baby" Her face 
glowed with excitement. "An' I thought well, I thought 



The Grapes of Wrath 225 

maybe we could all go in town, an' when Connie gets his 
store maybe Al could work for him." 

Ma's eyes had never left the flushing face. Ma watched the 
structure grow and followed it. "We don' want you to go 
'way from us," she said. "It ain't good for folks to break up." 

Al snorted, "Me work for Connie? How about Connie 
comes a-workin' for me? He thinks he's the on'y son-of-a- 
bitch can study at night?" 

Ma suddenly seemed to know it was all a dream. She 
turned her head forward again and her body relaxed, but the 
little smile stayed around her eyes. "I wonder how Granma 
feels today," she said. 

Al grew tense over the wheel. A little rattle had developed 
in the engine. He speeded up and the rattle increased. He re- 
tarded his spark and listened, and then he speeded up for a 
moment and listened. The rattle increased to a metallic 
pounding. Al blew his horn and pulled the car to the side of 
the road. Ahead the truck pulled up and then backed slowly. 
Three cars raced by, westward, and each one blew its horn 
and the last driver leaned out and yelled, "Where the hell ya 
think you're stoppin'?" 

Tom backed the truck close, and then he got out and 
walked to the touring car. From the back of the loaded truck 
heads looked down. Al retarded his spark and listened to his 
idling motor. Tom asked, "What's a matter, Al?" 

Al speeded the motor. "Listen to her." The rattling pound 
was louder now. 

Tom listened. "Put up your spark an' idle," he said. He 
opened the hood and put his head inside. "Now speed her." 
He listened for a moment and then closed the hood. "Well, 
I guess you're right, Al," he said. 



226 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Con-rod bearing, ain't it?" 

"Sounds like it," said Tom. 

"I kep' plenty oil in," Al complained. 

"Well, it jus' didn' get to her. Drier'n a bitch monkey 
now. Well, there ain't nothin' to do but tear her out. Look, 
I'll pull ahead an' find a flat place to stop. You come ahead 
slow. Don't knock the pan out of her." 

Wilson asked, "Is it bad?" 

"Purty bad," said Tom, and walked back to the truck and 
moved slowly ahead. 

Al explained, "I don' know what made her go out. I give 
her plenty of oil." Al knew the blame was on him. He felt 
his failure. 

Ma said, "It ain't your fault. You done ever'thing right." 
And then she asked a little timidly, "Is it terrible bad?" 

"Well, it's hard to get at, an' we got to get a new con-rod 
or else some babbitt in this one." He sighed deeply. "I sure 
am glad Tom's here. I never fitted no bearing. Hope to Jesus 
Tom did." 

A huge red billboard stood beside the road ahead, and it 
threw a great oblong shadow. Tom edged the truck off the 
road and across the shallow roadside ditch, and he pulled up 
in the shadow. He got out and waited until Al came up. 

"Now go easy," he called. "Take her slow or you'll break 
a spring too." 

Al's face went red with anger. He throttled down his 
motor. "Goddamn it," he yelled, "I didn't burn that bearin' 
out! What d'ya mean, I'll bust a spring too?" 

Tom grinned. "Keep all four feet on the groun'," he said. 
"I didn' mean nothin'. Jus' take her easy over this ditch." 

Al grumbled as he inched the touring car down, and up 
the other side. "Don't you go givin' nobody no idear I 



The Grapes of Wrath 227 

burned out that bearin'." The engine clattered loudly now. 
Al pulled into the shade and shut down the motor. 

Tom lifted the hood and braced it. "Can't even start on 
her before she cools off," he said. The family piled down 
from the cars and clustered about the touring car. 

Pa asked, "How bad?" And he squatted on his hams. 

Tom turned to Al. "Ever fitted one?" 

"No," said Al, "I never. 'Course I had pans off." 

Tom said, "Well, we got to tear the pan off an' get the rod 
out, an' we got to get a new part an' hone her an' shim her 
an' fit her. Good day's job. Got to go back to that las' place 
for a part, Santa Rosa. Albuquerque's about seventy-five 
miles on Oh, Jesus, tomorra's Sunday! We can't get nothin' 
tomorra." The family stood silently. Ruthie crept close and 
peered into the open hood, hoping to see the broken part. 
Tom went on softly, "Tomorra's Sunday. Monday we'll get 
the thing an' prob'ly won't get her fitted 'fore Tuesday. We 
ain't got the tools to make it easy. Gonna be a job." The 
shadow of a buzzard slid across the earth, and the family all 
looked up at the sailing black bird. 

Pa said, "What I'm scairt of is we'll run outa money so we 
can't git there 't all. Here's all us eatin', an' got to buy gas an' 
oil. 'F we run outa money, I don' know what we gonna do." 

Wilson said, "Seems like it's my fault. This here goddamn 
wreck's give me trouble right along. You folks been nice to 
us. Now you jus' pack up an' get along. Me an' Sairy'll stay, 
an' we'll figger some way. We don't aim to put you folks out 
none." 

Pa said slowly, "We ain't a-gonna do it. We got almost a 
kin bond. Grampa, he died in your tent." 

Sairy said tiredly, "We been nothin' but trouble, nothin' 
but trouble." 



228 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom slowly made a cigarette, and inspected it and lighted 
it. He took off his ruined cap and wiped his forehead. "I got 
an idear," he said. "Maybe nobody gonna like it, but here she 
is: The nearer to California our folks get, the quicker they's 
gonna be money rollin' in. Now this here car'll go twicet as 
fast as that truck. Now here's my idea. You take out some a 
that stuff in the truck, an' then all you folks but me an' the 
preacher get in an' move on. Me an' Casy'll stop here an' fix 
this here car an' then we drive on, day an' night, an' we'll 
catch up, or if we don't meet on the road, you'll be a-workin' 
anyways. An' if you break down, why, jus' camp 'longside 
the road till we come. You can't be no worse off, an' if you 
get through, why, you'll be a-workin', an' stuff'll be easy. 
Casy can give me a lif ' with this here car, an' we'll come a- 
sailin'." 

The gathered family considered it. Uncle John dropped to 
his hams beside Pa. 

Al said, "Won't ya need me to give ya a han' with that 
con-rod?" 

"You said your own se'f you never fixed one." 

"That's right," Al agreed. "All ya got to have is a strong 
back. Maybe the preacher don' wanta stay." 

"Well whoeverI don' care," said Tom. 

Pa scratched the dry earth with his forefinger. "I kind a 
got a notion Tom's right," he said. "It ain't goin' ta do no 
good all of us stayin' here. We can get fifty, a hunderd miles 
on 'fore dark." 

Ma said worriedly, "How you gonna find us?" 

"We'll be on the same road," said Tom. "Sixty-six right 
on through. Come to a place name' Bakersfiel'. Seen it on 
the map I got. You go straight on there." 



The Grapes of Wrath 229 

"Yeah, but when we get to California an' spread out side- 
ways off this road?" 

"Don't you worry," Tom reassured her. "We're gonna 
find ya. California ain't the whole world." 

"Looks like an awful big place on the map," said Ma. 

Pa appealed for advice. "John, you see any reason why 
not?" 

"No," said John. 

"Mr. Wilson, it's your car. You got any objections if my 
boy fixes her an' brings her on?" 

"I don' see none," said Wilson. "Seems like you folks done 
ever'thing for us awready. Don' see why I cain't give your 
boy a han'." 

"You can be workin', layin' in a little money, if we don' 
ketch up with ya," said Tom. "An' suppose we all jus' lay 
aroun' here. There ain't no water here, an' we can't move 
this here car. But s'pose you all git out there an' git to work. 
Why, you'd have money, an' maybe a house to live in. How 
about it, Casy? Wanna stay with me an' gimme a lif?" 

"I wanna do what's bes' for you folks," said Casy. "You 
took me in, carried me along. I'll do whatever." 

"Well, you'll lay on your back an' get grease in your face 
if you stay here," Tom said. 

"Suits me awright." 

Pa said, "Well, if that's the way she's gonna go, we better 
get a-shovin'. We can maybe squeeze in a hunderd miles 
'fore we stop." 

Ma stepped in front of him. "I ain't a-gonna go." 

"What you mean, you ain't gonna go? You got to go. You 
got to look after the family." Pa was amazed at the revolt. 

Ma stepped to the touring car and reached in on the floor 



230 The Grapes of Wrath 

of the back seat. She brought out a jack handle and balanced 

it in her hand easily. "I ain't a-gonna go," she said. 

"I tell you, you got to go. We made up our mind." 

And now Ma's mouth set hard. She said softly, "On'y way 
you gonna get me to go is whup me." She moved the jack 
handle gently again. "An' I'll shame you, Pa. I won't take no 
whuppin', cryin' an' a-beggin'. I'll light into you. An' you 
ain't so sure you can whup me anyways. An' if ya do get me, 
I swear to God I'll wait till you got your back turned, or 
you're settin' down, an' I'll knock you belly-up with a 
bucket. I swear to Holy Jesus' sake I will." 

Pa looked helplessly about the group. "She sassy," he said. 
"I never seen her so sassy." Ruthie giggled shrilly. 

The jack handle flicked hungrily back and forth in Ma's 
hand. "Come on," said Ma. "You made up your mind. Come 
on an' whup me. Jus' try it. But I ain't a-goin'; or if I do, you 
ain't never gonna get no sleep, 'cause I'll wait an' I'll wait, an' 
jus' the minute you take sleep in your eyes, I'll slap ya with a 
stick a stove wood." 

"So goddamn sassy," Pa murmured. "An' she ain't young, 
neither." 

The whole group watched the revolt. They watched Pa, 
waiting for him to break into fury. They watched his lax 1 
hands to see the fists form. And Pa's anger did not rise, and 
his hands hung limply at his sides. And in a moment the 
group knew that Ma had won. And Ma knew it too. 

Tom said, "Ma, what's eatin' on you? What ya wanna do 
this-a-way for? What's the matter'th you anyways? You 
gone johnrabbit on us?" 

Ma's face softened, but her eyes were still fierce. "You 
done this 'thout thinkin' much," Ma said. "What we got lef ' 
in the worl'? Nothin' but us. Nothin' but the folks. We come 



The Grapes of Wrath 2 3 1 

out an' Grampa, he reached for the shovel-shelf right off. 
An' now, right off, you wanna bust up the folks " 

Tom cried, "Ma, we was gonna catch up with ya. We 
wasn't gonna be gone long." 

Ma waved the jack handle. "S'pose we was camped, and 
you went on by. S'pose we got on through, how'd we know 
where to leave the word, an' how'd you know where to 
ask?" She said, "We got a bitter road. Granma's sick. She's 
up there on the truck a-pawin' for a shovel herself. She's jus' 
tar'd out. We got a long bitter road ahead." 

Uncle John said, "But we could be makin' some money. 
We could have a little bit saved up, come time the other folks 
got there." 

The eyes of the whole family shifted back to Ma. She was 
the power. She had taken control. "The money we'd make 
wouldn't do no good," she said. "All we got is the family 
unbroke. Like a bunch a cows, w r hcn the lobos are ranging, 
stick all together. I ain't scared while we're all here, all that's 
alive, but I ain't gonna see us bust up. The Wilsons here is 
with us, an' the preacher is with us. I can't say nothin' if they 
want to go, but I'm a-goin' cat-wild with this here piece a 
bar-arn if my own folks busts up." Her tone was cold and 
final. 

Tom said soothingly, "Ma, we can't all camp here. Ain't 
no water here. Ain't even much shade here. Granma, she 
needs shade." 

"All right," said Ma. "We'll go along. We'll stop first place 
they's water an' shade. An' the truck'll come back an' take 
you in town to get your part, an' it'll bring you back. You 
ain't goin' walkin' along in the sun, an' I ain't havin' you out 
all alone, so if you get picked up there ain't nobody of your 
folks to he'p ya." 



232 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom drew his lips over his teeth and then snapped them 
open. He spread his hands helplessly and let them flop against 
his sides. "Pa," he said, "if you was to rush her one side an' 
me the other an' then the res' pile on, an' Granma jump 
down on top, maybe we can get Aia 'thout more'n two-three 
of us gets killed with that there jack handle. But if you ain't 
willin' to get your head smashed, I guess Ma's went an' filled 
her flush. Jesus Christ, one person with their mind made up 
can shove a lot of folks aroun'! You win, Ma. Put away that 
jack handle 'fore you hurt somebody." 

Ma looked in astonishment at the bar of iron. Her hand 
trembled. She dropped her weapon on the ground, and Tom, 
with elaborate care, picked it up and put it back in the car. 
He said, "Pa, you jus' got set back on your heels. Al, you 
drive the folks on an' get 'em camped, an' then you bring the 
truck back here. Me an' the preacher'll get the pan off. Then, 
if we can make it, we'll run in Santa Rosa an' try an' get a 
con-rod. Maybe we can, seein' it's Sat'dy night. Get jumpin' 
now so we can go. Lemme have the monkey wrench an' 
pliers outa the truck." He reached under the car and felt the 
greasy pan. "Oh, yeah, lemme have a can, that oF bucket, to 
catch the oil. Got to save that." Al handed over the bucket 
and Tom set it under the car and loosened the oil cap with i* 
pair of pliers. The black oil flowed down his arm while he 
unscrewed the cap with his fingers, and then the black 
stream ran silently into the bucket. Al had loaded the family 
on the truck by the time the bucket was half full. Tom, his 
face already smudged with oil, looked out between the 
wheels. "Get back fast!" he called. And he was loosening the 
pan bolts as the truck moved gently across the shallow ditch 
and crawled away. Tom turned each bolt a single turn, 
loosening them evenly to spare the gasket. 



The Grapes of Wrath 233 

The preacher knelt beside the wheels. "What can I do?" 
"Nothing not right now. Soon's the oil's out an' I get these 
here bolts loose, you can he'p me drop the pan off." He 
squirmed away under the car, loosening the bolts with a 
wrench and turning them out with his fingers. He left the 
bolts on each end loosely threaded to keep the pan from 
dropping. "Ground's still hot under here," Tom said. And 
then, "Say, Casy, you been awful goddamn quiet the las' few 
days. Why, Jesus! When I first come up with you, you was 
makin' a speech ever' half-hour or so. An' here you ain't 
said ten words the las' couple days. What's a matter gettin' 
sour?" 

Casy was stretched out on his stomach, looking under the 
car. His chin, bristly with sparse whiskers, rested on the back 
of one hand. His hat was pushed back so that it covered the 
back of his neck. "I done enough talkin' when I was a 
preacher to las' the rest a my life," he said. 
"Yeah, but you done some talkin' sence, too." 
"I'm all worried up," Casy said. "I didn' even know it 
when I was a-preachin' aroun', but I was doin' consid'able 
tom-cattin' aroun'. If I ain't gonna preach no more, I got to 
get married. Why, Tommy, I'm a-lustin' after the flesh." 
"Me too," said Tom. "Say, the day I come outa McAlester 
I was smokin'. I run me down a girl, a hoor girl, like she was 
a rabbit. I won't tell ya what happened. I wouldn' tell no- 
body what happened." 

Casy laughed. "I know what happened. I went a-fastin' 
into the wilderness one time, an' when I come out the same 
damn thing happened to me." 

"Hell it did!" said Tom. "Well, I saved my money any- 
way, an' I give that girl a run. Thought I was nuts. I should 
a paid her, but I on'y got five bucks to my name. She said she 



234 The Grapes of Wrath 

didn' want no money. Here, roll in under here an' grab 
a-holt. I'll tap her loose. Then you turn out that bolt an' I 
turn out my end, an' we let her down easy. Careful that 
gasket. See, she comes off in one piece. They's on'y four 
cylinders to these here ol' Dodges. I took one down one time. 
Got main bearings big as a cantaloupe. Now let her down- 
hold it. Reach up an' pull down that gasket where it's stuck 
easy now. There!" The greasy pan lay on the ground be- 
tween them, and a little oil still lay in the wells. Tom reached 
into one of the front wells and picked out some broken 
pieces of babbitt. "There she is," he said. He turned the bab- 
bitt in his fingers. "Shaft's up. Look in back an' get the crank. 
Turn her over till I tell you." 

Casy got to his feet and found the crank and fitted it. 
"Ready?" 

"Reachnow easy little more little more right there." 

Casy kneeled down and looked under again. Tom rattled 
the connecting-rod bearing against the shaft. "There she is." 

"What ya s'pose done it?" Casy asked. 

"Oh, hell, I don' know! This buggy been on the road thir- 
teen years. Says sixty-thousand miles on the speedometer. 
That means a hunderd an' sixty, an' God knows how many 
times they turned the numbers back. Gets hot maybe some- 
body let the oil get low jus' went out." He pulled the 
cotter-pins and put his wrench on a bearing bolt. He strained 
and the wrench slipped. A long gash appeared on the back of 
his hand. Tom looked at it the blood flowed evenly from 
the wound and met the oil and dripped into the pan. 

"That's too bad," Casy said. "Want I should do that an' 
you wrap up your han'?" 

"Hell, no! I never fixed no car in my life 'thout cuttin' my- 



The Grapes of Wrath 235 

self. Now it's done I don't have to worry no more." He fitted 
the wrench again. "Wisht I had a crescent wrench," he said, 
and he hammered the wrench with the butt of his hand until 
the bolts loosened. He took them out and laid them with the 
pan bolts in the pan, and the cotter-pins with them. He 
loosened the bearing bolts and pulled out the piston. He put 
piston and connecting-rod in the pan. "There, by God!" He 
squirmed free from under the car and pulled the pan out 
with him. He wiped his hand on a piece of gunny sacking 
and inspected the cut. "Bleedin' like a son-of-a-bitch," he 
said. "Well, I can stop that." He urinated on the ground, 
picked up a handful of the resulting mud, and plastered it 
over the wound. Only for a moment did the blood ooze out, 
and then it stopped. "Bes' damn thing in the worF to stop 
bleedinY' he said. 

"Han'ful a spider web'll do it too," said Casy. 

"I know, but there ain't no spider web, an' you can always 
get piss." Tom sat on the running board and inspected the 
broken bearing. "Now if we can on'y find a '25 Dodge an' 
get a used con-rod an' some shims, maybe we'll make her all 
right. Al must a gone a hell of a long ways." 

The shadow of the billboard was sixty feet out by now. 
The afternoon lengthened away. Casy sat down on the run- 
ning board and looked westward. "We gonna be in high 
mountains pretty soon," he said, and he was silent for a 
few moments. Then, "Tom!" 

"Yeah?" 

"Tom, I been watchin' the cars on the road, them we 
passed an' them that passed us. I been keepin' track." 

"Track a what?" 

"Tom, they's hunderds a families like us all a-goin' west. I 



236 The Grapes of Wrath 

watched. There ain't none of 'em goin' east hunderds of 

'em. Did you notice that?" 

"Yeah, I noticed." 

"Why it's like it's like they was runnin' away from 
soldiers. It's like a whole country is movin'." 

"Yeah," Tom said. "They is a whole country movin'. 
We're movin' too." 

"Well s'pose all these here folks an' ever'body s'pose 
they can't get no jobs out there?" 

"Goddamn it!" Tom cried. "How'd I know? I'm jus' 
puttin' one foot in front a the other. I done it at Mac for four 
years, jus' marchin' in cell an' out cell an' in mess an' out 
mess. Jesus Christ, I thought it'd be somepin different when 
I come out! Couldn't think a nothin' in there, else you go stir 
happy, an' now can't think a nothin'." He turned on Casy. 
"This here bearing went out. We didn' know it was goin', so 
we didn' worry none. Now she's out an' we'll fix her. An' by 
Christ that goes for the rest of it! I ain't gonna worry. I can't 
do it. This here little piece of iron an' babbitt. See it? Ya see 
it? Well, that's the only goddamn thing in the world I got on 
my mind. I wonder where the hell Al is." 

Casy said, "Now look, Tom. Oh, what the hell! So god- 
damn hard to say anything." * 

Tom lifted the mud pack from his hand and threw it on 
the ground. The edge of the wound was lined with dirt. He 
glanced over to the preacher. "You're fixin' to make a 
speech," Tom said. "Well, go ahead. I like speeches. Warden 
used to make speeches all the time. Didn't do us no harm an' 
he got a hell of a bang out of it. What you tryin' to roll out?" 

Casy picked the backs of his long knotty fingers. "They's 
stuff goin' on and they's folks doin' things. Them people 



The Grapes of Wrath 237 

layin' one foot down in front of the other, like you says, 
they ain't thinkin' where they're goin', like you says but 
they're all layin' 'em down the same direction, jus' the same. 
An' if ya listen, you'll hear a movin', an' a sneakin', an' a 
rustlin', an' an' a rcs'lessness. They's stuff goin' on that the 
folks doin' it don't know nothin' about yet. They's gonna 
come somcpin outa all these folks goin' wes' outa all their 
farms lef lonely. They's gonna come a thing that's gonna 
change the whole country." 

Tom said, "I'm still layin' my dogs down one at a time." 

"Yeah, but when a fence comes up at ya, ya gonna climb 
that fence." 

"I climb fences when I got fences to climb," said Tom. 

Casy sighed. "It's the bes' way. I gotta agree. But they's 
different kinda fences. They's folks like me that climbs 
fences that ain't even strang up yet an' can't he'p it." 

"Ain't that Al a-comin'?" Tom asked. 

"Yeah. Looks like." 

Tom stood up and wrapped the connecting-rod and both 
halves of the bearing in the piece of sack. "Wanta make sure 
I get the same," he said. 

The truck pulled alongside the road and Al leaned out the 
window. 

Tom said, "You was a hell of a long time. How far'd you 
go?" 

Al sighed. "Got the rod out?" 

"Yeah." Tom held up the sack. "Babbitt jus' broke down." 

"Well, it wasn't no fault of mine," said AL 

"No. Where'd you take the folks?" 

"We had a mess," Al said. "Granma got to bellerin', an' 
that set Rosasharn off an' she bellered some. Got her head 



238 The Grapes of Wrath 

under a mattress an' bellered. But Granma, she was just lay in' 
back her jaw an' bayin' like a moonlight houn' dog. Seems 
like Granma ain't got no sense no more. Like a little baby. 
Don' speak to nobody, don' seem to reco'nize nobody. Jus' 
talks on like she's talkin' to Grampa." 

"Where'd ya leave 'em?" Tom insisted. 

"Well, we come to a camp. Got shade an' got water in 
pipes. Costs half a dollar a day to stay there. But ever'body's 
so goddamn tired an' wore out an' mis'ablc, they stayed 
there. Ma says they got to 'cause Granma's so tired an' wore 
out. Got Wilson's tent up an' got our tarp for a tent. I think 
Granma gone nuts." 

Tom looked toward the lowering sun. "Casy," he said, 
"somebody got to stay with this car or she'll get stripped. 
You jus' as soon?" 

"Sure. I'll stay." 

Al took a paper bag from the seat. "This here's some bread 
an' meat Ma sent, an' I got a jug a water here." 

"She don't forget nobody," said Casy. 

Tom got in beside Al. "Look," he said. "We'll get back 
jus' as soon's we can. But we can't tell how long." 

"I'll be here." 

"Awright. Don't make no speeches to yourself. Get goin', 
Al." The truck moved off in the late afternoon. "He's a nice 
fella," Tom said. "He thinks about stuff all the time." 

"Well, hell if you been a preacher, I guess you got to. 
Pa's all mad about it costs fifty cents jus' to camp under a 
tree. He can't see that noways. Settin' a-cussin'. Says nex' 
thing they'll sell ya a little tank a air. But Ma says they gotta 
be near shade an' water 'cause a Granma." The truck rattled 
along the highway, and now that it was unloaded, every part 



The Grapes of Wrath 239 

of it rattled and clashed. The side-board of the bed, the cut 
body. It rode hard and light. Al put it up to thirty-eight 
miles an hour and the engine clattered heavily and a blue 
smoke of burning oil drifted up through the floor boards. 

"Cut her down some," Tom said. "You gonna burn her 
right down to the hub caps. What's eatin' on Granma?" 

"I don't know. 'Member the las' couple days she's been 
airy-nary, sayin' nothin' to nobody? Well, she's yellin' an' 
talkin' plenty now, on'y she's talkin' to Grampa. Yellin' at 
him. Kinda scary, too. You can almos' see 'im a-settin' there 
grinnin' at her the way he always done, a-fingerin' hisself an' 
grinnin'. Seems like she sees him a-settin' there, too. She's jus' 
givin' him hell. Say, Pa, he give me twenty dollars to hand 
you. He don' know how much you gonna need. Ever see Ma 
stand up to 'im like she done today?" 

"Not I remember. I sure did pick a nice time to get 
paroled. I figgered I was gonna lay aroun' an' get up late an' 
eat a lot when I come home. I was goin' out an' dance, an' I 
was gonna go tom-cattin' an' here I ain't had time to do 
none of them things." 

Al said, "I forgot. Ma give me a lot a stuff to tell you. She 
says don't drink nothin', an' don' get in no arguments, an' 
don't fight nobody. 'Cause she says she's scairt you'll get 
sent back." 

"She got plenty to get worked up about 'thout me givin' 
her no trouble," said Tom. 

"Well, we could get a couple beers, can't we? I'm jus' 
a-ravin' for a beer." 

"I dunno," said Tom. "Pa'd crap a litter of lizards if we 
buy beers." 

"Well, look, Tom. I got six dollars. You an' me could get a 



240 The Grapes of Wrath 

couple pints an' go down the line. Nobody don't know I got 
that six bucks. Christ, we could have a hell of a time for our- 
selves." ;/' 

"Keep ya jack," Tom said. "When we get out to the coast 
you an' me'll take her an' we'll raise hell. Maybe when we're 
workin' " He turned in the seat. "I didn' think you was a 
fella to go down the line. I figgered you was talkin' 'em out 
of it." 

"Well, hell, I don't know nobody here. If I'm gonna ride 
aroun' much, I'm gonna get married. I'm gonna have me a 
hell of a time when we get to California." 
"Hope so," said Tom. 
"You ain't sure a nothin' no more." 
"No, I ain't sure a nothin'." 

"When ya killed that fella did did ya ever dream about 
it or anything? Did it worry ya?" 
"No." 

"Well, didn' ya never think about it?" 
"Sure. I was sorry 'cause he was dead." 
"Ya didn't take no blame to yourself?" 
"No. I done my time, an' I done my own time." 
"Was it-awful bad-there?" 

Tom said nervously, "Look, Al. I done my time, an' now 
it's done. I don' wanna do it over an' over. There's the river 
up ahead, an' there's the town. Let's jus' try an' get a con-rod 
an' the hell with the res' of it." 

"Ma's awful partial to you," said Al. "She mourned when 
you was gone. Done it all to herself. Kinda cryin' down in- 
side of her throat. We could tell what she was thinkin' about, 
though." 

Tom pulled his cap down low over his eyes. "Now look 
here, Al. S'pose we talk 'bout some other stuff." 



The Grapes of Wrath 241 

"I was jus' tellin' ya what Ma done." 

"I know I know. But I ruther not. I ruther jus' lay one 
foot down in front a the other." 

Al relapsed into an insulted silence. "I was jus' try in' to tell 
ya," he said, after a moment. 

Tom looked at him, and Al kept his eyes straight ahead. 
The lightened truck bounced noisily along. Tom's long lips 
drew up from his teeth and he laughed softly. "I know you 
was, Al. Maybe I'm kinda stir-nuts. I'll tell ya about it some- 
time maybe. Ya see, it's jus' somepin you wanta know. Kinda 
interestin'. But I got a kind a funny idear the bes' thing'd be 
if I forget about it for a while. Maybe in a little while it won't 
be that way. Right now when I think about it my guts gets 
all droopy an' nasty feelin'. Look here, Al, I'll tell ya one 
thing the jail house is jus' a kind a way a drivin' a guy 
slowly nuts. See? An' they go nuts, an' you see 'em an' hear 
'em, an' pretty soon you don' know if you're nuts or not. 
When they get to screamin' in the night sometimes you 
think it's you doin' the screamin' an' sometimes it is." 

Al said, "Oh! I won't talk about it no more, Tom." 

"Thirty days is all right," Tom said. "An' a hunderd an' 
eighty days is all right. But over a year I dunno. There's 
somepin about it that ain't like nothin' else in the worl'. 
Somepin screwy about it, somepin screwy about the whole 
idea a lockin' people up. Oh, the hell with it! I don' wanna 
talk about it. Look a the sun a-flashin' on them windas." 

The truck drove to the service-station belt, and there on 
the right-hand side of the road was a wrecking yard an acre 
lot surrounded by a high barbed-wire fence, a corrugated 
iron shed in front with used tires piled up by the doors, and 
price-marked. Behind the shed there was a little shack built of 
scrap, scrap lumber and pieces of tin. The windows were 



242 The Grapes of Wrath 

windshields built into the walls. In the grassy lot the wrecks 
lay, cars with twisted, stove-in noses, wounded cars lying 
on their sides with the wheels gone. Engines rusting on the 
ground and against the shed. A great pile of junk; fenders 
and truck sides, wheels and axles; over the whole lot a spirit 
of decay, of mold and rust; twisted iron, half-gutted engines, 
a mass of derelicts. 

Al drove the truck up on the oily ground in front of the 
shed. Tom got out and looked into the dark doorway. 
"Don't see nobody," he said, and he called, "Anybody here?" 

" Jesus, I hope they got a '25 Dodge." 

Behind the shed a door banged. A specter of a man came 
through the dark shed. Thin, dirty, oily skin tight against 
stringy muscles. One eye was gone, and the raw, uncovered 
socket squirmed with eye muscles when his good eye moved. 
His jeans and shirt were thick and shiny with old grease, and 
his hands cracked and lined and cut. His heavy, pouting 
underlip hung out sullenly. 

Tom asked, "You the boss?" 

The one eye glared. "I work for the boss," he said sullenly. 
"Whatcha want?" 

"Got a wrecked '25 Dodge? We need a con-rod." 

"I don't know. If the boss was here he could tell ya but he 
ain't here. He's went home." 

"Can we look an' see?" 

The man blew his nose into the palm of his hand and 
wiped his hand on his trousers. "You from hereabouts?" 

"Come from east goin' west." 

"Look aroun' then. Burn the goddamn place down, for all 
I care." 

"Looks like you don't love your boss none." 

The man shambled close, his one eye flaring. "I hate 'im," 



The Grapes of Wrath 243 

he said softly. "I hate the son-of-a-bitch! Gone home now. 
Gone home to his house." The words fell stumbling out. "He 
got a way he got a way a-pickin' a fella an' a-tearin' a fella. 
He the son-of-a-bitch. Got a girl nineteen, purty. Says to 
me, 'How'd ya like ta marry her?' Says that right to me. An' 
tonight says, 'They's a dance; how'd ya like to go?' Me, he 
says it to me!" Tears formed in his eyes and tears dripped 
from the corner of the red eye socket. "Some day, by God- 
some day I'm gonna have a pipe wrench in my pocket. When 
he says them things he looks at my eye. An' I'm gonna, I'm 
gonna jus' take his head right down off his neck with that 
wrench, little piece at a time." He panted with his fury. 
"Little piece at a time, right down off 'n his neck." 

The sun disappeared behind the mountains. Al looked into 
the lot at the wrecked cars. "Over there, look, Tom! That 
there looks like a '25 or '26." 

Tom turned to the one-eyed man. "Mind if we look?" 

"Hell, no! Take any goddamn thing you want." 

They walked, threading their way among the dead auto- 
mobiles, to a rusting sedan, resting on flat tires. 

"Sure it's a '25," Al cried. "Can we yank off the pan, 
mister?" 

Tom kneeled down and looked under the car. "Pan's off 
awready. One rod's been took. Looks like one gone." He 
wriggled under the car. "Get a crank an' turn her over, 
Al." He worked the rod against the shaft. "Purty much froze 
with grease." Al turned the crank slowly. "Easy," Tom 
called. He picked a splinter of wood from the ground and 
scraped the cake of grease from the bearing and the bearing 
bolts. 

"How is she for tight?" Al asked. 

"Well, she's a little loose, but not bad." 



244 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well, how is she for wore?" 

"Got plenty shim. Ain't been all took up. Yeah, she's O.K. 
Turn her over easy now. Get her down, easythere! Run 
over the truck an' get some tools." 

The one-eyed man said, "I'll get you a box a tools." He 
shuffled off among the rusty cars and in a moment he came 
back with a tin box of tools. Tom dug out a socket wrench 
and handed it to Al. 

"You take her off. Don' lose no shims an' don' let the bolts 
get away, an' keep track a the cotter-pins. Hurry up. The 
light's gettin' dim." 

Al crawled under the car. "We oughta get us a set a socket 
wrenches," he called. "Can't get in no place with a monkey 
wrench." 

"Yell out if you want a hand," Tom said. 

The one-eyed man stood helplessly by. "I'll help ya if ya 
want," he said. "Know what that son-of-a-bitch done? He 
come by an' he got on white pants. An' he says, 'Come on, 
le's go out to my yacht.' By God, I'll whang him some day!" 
He breathed heavily. "I ain't been out with a woman sence I 
los' my eye. An' he says stuff like that." And big tears cut 
channels in the dirt beside his nose. 

Tom said impatiently, "Whyn't you roll on? Got no 
guards to keep ya here." 

"Yeah, that's easy to say. Ain't so easy to get a job not for 
a one-eye' man." 

Tom turned on him. "Now look-a-here, fella. You got 
that eye wide open. An' ya dirty, ya stink. Ya jus' askin' for 
it. Ya like it. Lets ya feel sorry for yaself. 'Course ya can't 
get no woman with that empty eye flappin' aroun'. Put 
somepin over it an' wash ya face. You ain't hittin' nobody 
with no pipe wrench." 



The Grapes of Wrath 245 

"I tell ya, a one-eye' fella got a hard row," the man said. 
"Can't see stuff the way other fellas can. Can't see how far 
off a thing is. Ever'thing's jus' flat." 

Tom said, "Ya full a crap. Why, I knowed a one-legged 
whore one time. Think she was takin' two-bits in a alley? 
No, by God! She's gettin' half a dollar extra. She says, 'How 
many one-legged women you slep' with? None!' she says. 
'O.K.,' she says. 'You got somepin pretty special here, an' it's 
gonna cos' ya half a buck extry.' An' by God, she was get- 
tin' 'em, too, an' the fellas comin' out thinkin' they're pretty 
lucky. She says she's good luck. An' I knowed a hump-back 
in in a place I was. Make his whole livin' lettin' folks rub his 
hump for luck. Jesus Christ, an' all you got is one eye gone." 

The man said stumblingly, "Well, Jesus, ya see somebody 
edge away from ya, an' it gets into ya." 

"Cover it up then, goddamn it. Ya stickin' it out like a 
cow's ass. Ya like to feel sorry for yaself. There ain't nothin' 
the matter with you. Buy yaself some white pants. Ya gettin' 
drunk an' cry in' in ya bed, I bet. Need any help, Al?" 

"No," said Al. "I got this here bearin' loose. Jus' tryin' to 
work the piston down." 

"Don' bang yaself," said Tom. 

The one-eyed man said softly, "Think somebody'd like 
-me?" 

"Why, sure," said Tom. "Tell 'em ya dong's growed sence 
you los' your eye." 

"Where at you fellas goin'?" 

"California. Whole family. Gonna get work out there." 

"Well, ya think a fella like me could get work? Black 
patch on my eye?" 

"Why not? You ain't no cripple." 

"Well could I catch a ride with you fellas?" 



246 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Christ, no. We're so goddamn full now we can't move. 
You get out some other way. Fix up one a these here wrecks 
an' go out by yaself." 

"Maybe I will, by God," said the one-eyed man. 

There was a clash of metal. "I got her," Al called. 

"Well, bring her out, let's look at her." Al handed him the 
piston and connecting-rod and the lower half of the bearing. 

Tom wiped the babbitt surface and sighted along it side- 
ways. "Looks O.K. to me," he said. "Say, by God, if we had 
a light we could get this here in tonight." 

"Say, Tom," Al said, "I been thinkin'. We got no ring 
clamps. Gonna be a job gettin' them rings in, specially under- 
neath." 

Tom said, "Ya know, a fella toP me one time ya wrap some 
fine brass wire aroun' the ring to hoi' her." 

"Yeah, but how ya gonna get the wire off?" 

"Ya don't get her off. She melts off an' don't hurt nothinV 

"Copper wire'd be better." 

"It ain't strong enough," said Tom. He turned to the one- 
eyed man. "Got any fine brass wire?" 

"I dunno. I think they's a spool somewheres. Where d'ya 
think a fella could get one a them patches one-eye' fellas 
wear?" 

"I don' know," said Tom. "Le's see if you can fin' that 
wire." 

In the iron shed they dug through boxes until they found 
the spool. Tom set the rod in a vise and carefully wrapped 
the wire around the piston rings, forcing them deep into 
their slots, and where the wire was twisted he hammered it 
flat; and then he turned the piston and tapped the wire all 
around until it cleared the piston wall. He ran his finger up 
and down to make sure that the rings and wire were flush 



The Grapes of Wrath 247 

with the wall. It was getting dark in the shed. The one-eyed 
man brought a flashlight and shone its beam on the work. 

"There she is!" said Tom. "Say what'll ya take for that 
light?" 

"Well, it ain't much good. Got fifteen cents' a new bat- 
teries. You can have her for oh, thirty-five cents." 

"O.K. An' what we owe ya for this here con-rod an* 
piston?" 

The one-eyed man rubbed his forehead with a knuckle, 
and a line of dirt peeled off. "Well, sir, I jus' dunno. If the 
boss was here, he'd go to a parts book an' he'd find out how 
much is a new one, an' while you was workin', he'd be findin' 
out how bad you're hung up, an' how much jack ya got, an' 
then he'd well, say it's eight bucks in the part book he'd 
make a price a five bucks. An' if you put up a squawk, you'd 
get it for three. You say it's all me, but, by God, he's a son-of- 
a-bitch. Figgers how bad ya need it. I seen him git more for 
a ring gear than he give for the whole car." 

"Yeah! But how much am I gonna give you for this here?" 

" 'Bout a buck, I guess." 

"Awright, an' I'll give ya a quarter for this here socket 
wrench. Make it twice as easy." He handed over the silver. 
"Thank ya. An' cover up that goddamn eye." 

Tom and Al got into the truck. It was deep dark. Al 
started the motor and turned on the lights. "So long," Torn 
called. "See ya maybe in California." They turned across the 
highway and started back. 

The one-eyed man watched them go, and then he went 
through the iron shed to his shack behind. It was dark inside. 
He felt his way to the mattress on the floor, and he stretched 
out and cried in his bed, and the cars whizzing by on the 
highway only strengthened the walls of his loneliness. 



248 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom said, "If you'd toP me we'd get this here thing an' get 
her in tonight, I'd a said you was nuts." 

"We'll get her in awright," said Al. "You got to do her, 
though. I'd be scared I'd get her too tight an' she'd burn out, 
or too loose an' she'd hammer out." 

"I'll stick her in," said Tom. "If she goes out again, she 
goes out. I got nothin' to lose." 

Al peered into the dusk. The lights made no impression on 
the gloom; but ahead, the eyes of a hunting cat flashed green 
in reflection of the lights. "You sure give that fella hell," Al 
said. "Sure did tell him where to lay down his dogs." 

"Well, goddamn it, he was askin' for it! Jus' a pattin' his- 
self 'cause he got one eye, puttin' all the blame on his eye. 
He's a lazy, dirty son-of-a-bitch. Maybe he can snap out of 
it if he knowed people was wise to him." 

Al said, "Tom, it wasn't nothin' I done burned out that 
bearin'." 

Tom was silent for a moment, then, "I'm gonna take a fall 
outa you, Al. You jus' scrabblin' ass over tit, fear somebody 
gonna pin some blame on you. I know what's a matter. 
Young fella, all full a piss an' vinegar. Wanta be a hell of a 
guy all the time. But, goddamn it, Al, don' keep ya guard up 
when nobody ain't sparrin' with ya. You gonna be all right." 

Al did not answer him. He looked straight ahead. The 
truck rattled and banged over the road. A cat whipped out 
from the side of the road and Al swerved to hit it, but the 
wheels missed and the cat leaped into the grass. 

"Nearly got him," said Al. "Say, Tom. You heard Connie 
talkin' how he's gonna study nights? I been thinkin' maybe 
Fd study nights too. You know, radio or television or Diesel 
engines. Fella might get started that-a-way." 

"Might," said Tom. "Find out how much they gonna sock 



The Grapes of Wrath 249 

ya for the lessons, first. An' figger out if you're gonna study 
'em. There was fellas takin' them mail lessons in McAlester. 
I never knowed one of 'em that finished up. Got sick of it an' 
left 'em slide." 

"God Awmighty, we forgot to get somepin to eat." 
"Well, Ma sent down plenty; preacher couldn' eat it all. 
Be some lef. I wonder how long it'll take us to get to Cali- 
fornia." 

"Christ, I don' know. Jus' plug away at her." 
They fell into silence, and the dark came and the stars 
were sharp and white. 

Casy got out of the back seat of the Dodge and strolled 
to the side of the road when the truck pulled up. "I never ex- 
pected you so soon," he said. 

Tom gathered the parts in the piece of sacking on the 
floor. "We was lucky," he said. "Got a flashlight, too. Gonna 
fix her right up." 

"You forgot to take your dinner," said Casy. 

"I'll get it when I finish. Here, Al, pull off the road a little 
more an' come hoi' the light for me." He went directly to 
the Dodge and crawled under on his back. Al crawled under 
on his belly and directed the beam of the flashlight. "Not in 
my eyes. There, put her up." Tom worked the piston up into 
the cylinder, twisting and turning. The brass wire caught a 
little on the cylinder wall. With a quick push he forced it 
past the rings. "Lucky she's loose or the compression'd stop 
her. I think she's gonna work all right." 

"Hope that wire don't clog the rings," said Al. 

"Well, that's why I hammered her flat. She won't roll off. 
I think she'll jus' melt out an' maybe give the walls a brass 
plate." 



250 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Think she might score the walls?" 

Tom laughed. "Jesus Christ, them walls can take it. She's 
drinkin' oil like a gopher hole awready. Little more ain't 
gonna hurt none." He worked the rod down over the shaft 
and tested the lower half. "She'll take some shim." He said, 
"Casy!" 

"Yeah." 

"I'm takin' up this here bearing now. Get out to that crank 
an' turn her over slow when I tell ya." He tightened the 
bolts. "Now. Over slow!" And as the angular shaft turned, 
he worked the bearing against it. "Too much shim," Tom 
said. "Hold it, Casy." He took out the bolts and removed 
thin shims from each side and put the bolts back. "Try her 
again, Casy!" And he worked the rod again. "She's a lit-tle bit 
loose yet. Wonder if she'd be too tight if I took out more 
shim. I'll try her." Again he removed the bolts and took out 
another pair of the thin strips. "Now try her, Casy." 

"That looks good," said Al. 

Tom called, "She any harder to turn, Casy?" 

"No, I don't think so." 

"Well, I think she's snug here. I hope to God she is. Can't 
hone no babbitt without tools. This here socket wrench 
makes her a hell of a lot easier." 

Al said, "Boss a that yard gonna be purty mad when he 
looks for that size socket an' she ain't there." 

"That's his screwin'," said Tom. "We didn' steal her." He 
tapped the cotter-pins in and bent the ends out. "I think that's 
good. Look, Casy, you hold the light while me an' Al get this 
here pan up." 

Casy knelt down and took the flashlight. He kept the beam 
on the working hands as they patted the gasket gently in 



The Grapes of Wrath 251 

place and lined the holes with the pan bolts. The two men 
strained at the weight of the pan, caught the end bolts, and 
then set in the others; and when they were all engaged, Tom 
took them up little by little until the pan settled evenly in 
against the gasket, and he tightened hard against the nuts. 

"I guess that's her," Tom said. He tightened the oil tap, 
looked carefully up at the pan, and took the light and 
searched the ground. "There she is. Le's get the oil back in 
her." 

They crawled out and poured the bucket of oil back in the 
crank case. Tom inspected the gasket for leaks. 

"O.K., Al. Turn her over," he said. Al got into the car and 
stepped on the starter. The motor caught with a roar. Blue 
smoke poured from the exhaust pipe. "Throttle down!" Tom 
shouted. "She'll burn oil till that wire goes. Gettin' thinner 
now." And as the motor turned over, he listened carefully. 
"Put up the spark an' let her idle." He listened again. "O.K., 
Al. Turn her off. I think we done her. Where's that meat 
now?" 

"You make a darn good mechanic," Al said. 

"Why not? I worked in the shop a year. We'll take her 
good an' slow for a couple hunderd miles. Give her a chance 
to work in." 

They wiped their grease-covered hands on bunches of 
weeds and finally rubbed them on their trousers. They fell 
hungrily on the boiled pork and swigged the water from the 
bottle. 

"I like to starved," said Al. "What we gonna do now, go 
on to the camp?" 

"I dunno," said Tom. "Maybe they'd charge us a extry 
half-buck. Le's go on an' talk to the folks tell 'em we're 



252 The Grapes of Wrath 

fixed. Then if they wanta sock us extry we'll move on. The 
folks'll wanta know. Jesus, I'm glad Ma stopped us this after- 
noon. Look around with the light, AI. See we don't leave 
nothin'. Get that socket wrench in. We may need her again." 

Al searched the ground with the flashlight. "Don't see 
nothin'." 

"All right. I'll drive her. You bring the truck, Al." Tom 
started the engine. The preacher got in the car. Tom moved 
slowly, keeping the engine at a low speed, and Al followed 
in the truck. He crossed the shallow ditch, crawling in low 
gear. Tom said, "These here Dodges can pull a house in low 
gear. She's sure ratio'd down. Good thing for us I wanta 
break that bearin' in easy." 

On the highway the Dodge moved along slowly. The 1 2- 
volt headlights threw a short blob of yellowish light on the 
pavement. 

Casy turned to Tom. "Funny how you fellas can fix a car. 
Jus' light right in an' fix her. I couldn't fix no car, not even 
now when I seen you do it." 

"Got to grow into her when you're a little kid," Tom said. 
"It ain't jus' knowin'. It's more'n that. Kids now can tear 
down a car 'thout even thinkin' about it." 

A jackrabbit got caught in the lights and he bounced along 
ahead, cruising easily, his great ears flopping with every 
jump. Now and then he tried to break off the road, but the 
wall of darkness thrust him back. Far ahead bright headlights 
appeared and bore down on them. The rabbit hesitated, fal- 
tered, then turned and bolted toward the lesser lights of the 
Dodge. There was a small soft jolt as he went under the 
wheels. The oncoming car swished by. 

"We sure squashed him," said Casy. 

Tom said, "Some fellas like to hit 'em. Gives me a little 



The Grapes of Wrath 253 

shakes ever' time. Car sounds O.K. Them rings must a broke 
loose by now. She ain't smokin' so bad." 
"You done a nice job," said Casy. 

A small wooden house dominated the camp ground, and 
on the porch of the house a gasoline lantern hissed and threw 
its white glare in a great circle. Half a dozen tents were 
pitched near the house, and cars stood beside the tents. Cook- 
ing for the night was over, but the coals of the campfires still 
glowed on the ground by the camping places. A group of 
men had gathered to the porch where the lantern burned, 
and their faces were strong and muscled under the harsh 
white light, light that threw black shadows of their hats over 
their foreheads and eyes and made their chins seem to jut out. 
They sat on the steps, and some stood on the ground, resting 
their elbows on the porch floor. The proprietor, a sullen 
lanky man, sat in a chair on the porch. He leaned back 
against the wall, and he drummed his fingers on his knee. In- 
side the house a kerosene lamp burned, but its thin light was 
blasted by the hissing glare of the gasoline lantern. The 
gathering of men surrounded the proprietor. 

Tom drove the Dodge to the side of the road and parked. 
Al drove through the gate in the truck. "No need to take her 
in," Tom said. He got out and walked through the gate to the 
white glare of the lantern. 

The proprietor dropped his front chair legs to the floor 
and leaned forward. "You men wanta camp here?" 

"No," said Tom. "We got folks here. Hi, Pa." 

Pa, seated on the bottom step, said, "Thought you was 
gonna be all week. Get her fixed?" 

"We was pig lucky," said Tom. "Got a part 'fore dark. 
We can get goin' fust thing in the mornin'." 



254 The Grapes of Wrath 

"That's a pretty nice thing," said Pa. "Ma's worried. Ya 
Granma's off her chump." 

"Yeah, Al toP me. She any better now?" 

"Well, anyways she's a-sleepin'." 

The proprietor said, "If you wanta pull in here an' camp 
it'll cost you four bits. Get a place to camp an' water an' 
wood. An' nobody won't bother you." 

"What the hell," said Tom. "We can sleep in the ditch 
right beside the road, an' it won't cost nothin'." 

The owner drummed his knee with his fingers. "Deputy 
sheriff comes on by in the night. Might make it tough for 
ya. Got a law against sleepin' out in this State. Got a law 
about vagrants." 

"If I pay you a half a dollar I ain't a vagrant, huh?" 

"That's right." 

Tom's eyes glowed angrily. "Deputy sheriff ain't your 
broth er-'n-law by any chance?" 

The owner leaned forward. "No, he ain't. An' the time 
ain't come yet when us local folks got to take no talk from 
you goddamn bums, neither." 

"It don't trouble you none to take our four bits. An' 
when'd we get to be bums? We ain't asked ya for nothin'. 
All of us bums, huh? Well, we ain't askin' no nickels from 
you for the chance to lay down an' rest." 

The men on the porch were rigid, motionless, quiet. Ex- 
pression was gone from their faces; and their eyes, in the 
shadows under their hats, moved secretly up to the face of 
the proprietor. 

Pa growled, "Come off it, Tom." 

"Sure, I'll come off it." 

The circle of men were quiet, sitting on the steps, leaning 



The Grapes of Wrath 255 

on the high porch. Their eyes glittered under the harsh light 
of the gas lantern. Their faces were hard in the hard light, 
and they were very still. Only their eyes moved from 
speaker to speaker, and their faces were expressionless and 
quiet. A lamp bug slammed into the lantern and broke itself, 
and fell into the darkness. 

In one of the tents a child wailed in complaint, and a 
woman's soft voice soothed it and then broke into a low 
song, "Jesus loves you in the night. Sleep good, sleep good. 
Jesus watches in the night. Sleep, oh, sleep, oh." 

The lantern hissed on the porch. The owner scratched in 
the V of his open shirt, where a tangle of white chest hair 
showed. He was watchful and ringed with trouble. He 
watched the men in the circle, watched for some expression. 
And they made no move. 

Tom was silent for a long time. His dark eyes looked 
slowly up at the proprietor. "I don't wanta make no trouble," 
he said. "It's a hard thing to be named a bum. I ain't afraid," 
he said softly. "I'll go for you an' your deputy with my mitts 
here now, or jump Jesus. But there ain't no good in it." 

The men stirred, changed positions, and their glittering 
eyes moved slowly upward to the mouth of the proprietor, 
and their eyes watched for his lips to move. He was reassured. 
He felt that he had won, but not decisively enough to charge 
in. "Ain't you got half a buck?" he asked. 

"Yeah, I got it. But I'm gonna need it. I can't set it out jus' 
for sleepin'." 

"Well, we all got to make a livin'." 

"Yeah," Tom said. "On'y I wisht they was some way to 
make her 'thout takin' her away from somebody else." 

The men shifted again. And Pa said, "We'll get movin' 



256 The Grapes of Wrath 

smart early. Look, mister. We paid. This here fella is part a 

our folks. Can't he stay? We paid." 

"Half a dollar a car," said the proprietor. 

"Well, he ain't got no car. Car's out in the road." 

"He came in a car," said the proprietor. "Ever'body'd 
leave their car out there an' come in an' use my place for 
nothinV 

Tom said, "We'll drive along the road. Meet ya in the 
morning. We'll watch for ya. Al can stay an' Uncle John 
can come with us" He looked at the proprietor. "That 
awright with you?" 

He made a quick decision, with a concession in it. "If the 
same number stays that come an' paidthat's awright." 

Tom brought out his bag of tobacco, a limp gray rag by 
now, with a little damp tobacco dust in the bottom of it. He 
made a lean cigarette and tossed the bag away. "We'll go 
along pretty soon," he said. 

Pa spoke generally to the circle. "It's dirt hard for folks to 
tear up an' go. Folks like us that had our place. We ain't 
shif'less. Till we got tractored off, we was people with a 
farm." 

A young thin man, with eyebrows sunburned yellow, 
turned his head slowly. "Croppin'?" he asked. 

"Sure we was sharecroppin'. Use' ta own the place." 

The young man faced forward again. "Same as us," he 
said. 

"Lucky for us it ain't gonna las' long," said Pa. "We'll get 
out west an' we'll get work an' we'll get a piece a growin' 
land with water." 

Near the edge of the porch a ragged man stood. His black 
coat dripped torn streamers. The knees were gone from his 



The Grapes of Wrath 257 

dungarees. His face was black with dust, and lined where 
sweat had washed through. He swung his head toward Pa. 
"You folks must have a nice little pot a money." 

"No, we ain't got no money," Pa said. "But they's plenty 
of us to work, an' we're all good men. Get good wages out 
there an' we'll put 'em together. We'll make out." 

The ragged man stared while Pa spoke, and then he 
laughed, and his laughter turned to a high whinnying giggle. 
The circle of faces turned to him. The giggling got out of 
control and turned into coughing. His eyes were red and 
watering when he finally controlled the spasms. "You goin' 
out thereoh, Christ!" The giggling started again. "You 
goin' out an' get good wages oh, Christ!" He stopped and 
said slyly, "Pickin' oranges maybe? Gonna pick peaches?" 

Pa's tone was dignified. "We gonna take what they got. 
They got lots a stuff to work in." The ragged man giggled 
under his breath. 

Tom turned irritably. "What's so goddamn funny about 
that?" 

The ragged man shut his mouth and looked sullenly at the 
porch boards. "You folks all goin' to California, I bet." 

"I toP you that," said Pa. "You didn' guess nothin'." 

The ragged man said slowly, "Me I'm comin' back. I 
been there." 

The faces turned quickly toward him. The men were 
rigid. The hiss of the lantern dropped to a sigh and the pro- 
prietor lowered the front chair legs to the porch, stood up, 
and pumped the lantern until the hiss was sharp and high 
again. He went back to his chair, but he did not tilt back 
again. The ragged man turned toward the faces. "I'm goin' 
back to starve. I ruther starve all over at oncet." 

Pa said, "What the hell you talkin' about? I got a han'bill 



258 The Grapes of Wrath 

says they got good wages, an' little while ago I seen a thing 

in the paper says they need folks to pick fruit." 

The ragged man turned to Pa. "You got any place to go, 
back home?" 

"No," said Pa. "We're out. They put a tractor past the 
house." 

"You wouldn' go back then?" 

" 'Course not." 

"Then I ain't gonna fret you," said the ragged man. 

" 'Course you ain't gonna fret me. I got a han'bill says they 
need men. Don't make no sense if they don't need men. Costs 
money for them bills. They wouldn' put 'em out if they 
didn' need men." 

"I don' wanna fret you." 

Pa said angrily, "You done some jackassin'. You ain't 
gonna shut up now. My han'bill says they need men. You 
laugh an' say they don't. Now, which one's a liar?" 

The ragged man looked down into Pa's angry eyes. He 
looked sorry. "Han'bill's right," he said. "They need men." 

"Then why the hell you stirrin' us up laughin'?" 

" 'Cause you don't know what kind a men they need." 

"What you talkin' about?" 

The ragged man reached a decision. "Look," he said! 
"How many men they say they want on your han'bill?" 

"Eight hunderd, an' that's in one little place." 

"Orange color han'bill?" 

"Why-yes." 

"Give the name a the fella says so and so, labor con- 
tractor? " 

Pa reached in his pocket and brought out the folded hand- 
bill. "That's right. How'd you know?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 259 

"Look," said the man. "It don't make no sense. This fella 
wants eight hunderd men. So he prints up five thousand of 
them things an' maybe twenty thousan' people sees 'em. An* 
maybe two-three thousan' folks gets movin' account a this 
here han'bill. Folks that's crazy with worry." 
"But it don't make no sense!" Pa cried. 
"Not till you see the fella that put out this here bill. You'll 
see him, or somebody that's workin' for him. You'll be 
a-campin' by a ditch, you an' fifty other famblies. An' he'll 
look in your tent an' see if you got anything lef to eat. An' 
if you got nothin', he says, 'Wanna job?' An' you'll say, 'I 
sure do, mister. I'll sure thank you for a chance to do some 
work.' An' he'll say, 'I can use you.' An' you'll say, "When 
do I start?' An' he'll tell you where to go, an' what time, an' 
then he'll go on. *Maybe he needs two hunderd men, so he 
talks to five hunderd, an' they tell other folks, an' when you 
get to the place, they's a thousan' men. This here fella says, 
Tm payin' twenty cents an hour.' An' maybe half a the men 
walk off. But they's still five hunderd that's so goddamn 
hungry they'll work for nothin' but biscuits. Well, this here 
fella's got a contract to pick them peaches or chop that cot- 
ton. You see now? The more fellas he can get, an' the 
hungrier, less he's gonna pay. An' he'll get a fella with kids 
if he can, 'cause hell, I says I wasn't gonna fret ya." The 
circle of faces looked coldly at him. The eyes tested his 
words. The ragged man grew self-conscious. "I says I wasn't 
gonna fret ya, an' here I'm a-doin' it. You gonna go on. You 
ain't goin' back." The silence hung on the porch. And the 
light hissed, and a halo of moths swung around and around 
the lantern. The ragged man went on nervously, "Lemme 
tell ya what to do when ya meet that fella says he got work. 



260 The Grapes of Wrath 

Lemme tell ya. Ast him what he's gonna pay. Ast him to 
write down what he's gonna pay. Ast him that. I tell you 
men you're gonna get fooled if you don't." 

The proprietor leaned forward in his chair, the better to 
see the ragged dirty man. He scratched among the gray hairs 
on his chest. He said coldly, "You sure you ain't one of these 
here troublemakers? You sure you ain't a labor faker?" 

And the ragged man cried, "I swear to God I ain't!" 

"They's plenty of 'em," the proprietor said. "Coin' aroun' 
stirrin' up trouble. Gettin' folks mad. Chiselin' in. They's 
plenty of 'em. Time's gonna come when we string 'em all up, 
all them troublemakers. We gonna run 'em outa the country. 
Man wants to work, O.K. If he don't the hell with him. We 
ain't gonna let him stir up trouble." 

The ragged man drew himself up. "I tried to tell you 
folks," he said, "Somepin it took me a year to find out. Took 
two kids dead, took my wife dead to show me. But I can't 
tell you. I should of knew that. Nobody couldn't tell me, 
neither. I can't tell ya about them little fellas layin' in the tent 
with their bellies puffed out an' jus' skin on their bones, an' 
shiverin' an' whinin' like pups, an' me runnin' aroun' tryin' 
to get work not for money, not for wages!" he shouted. 
"Jesus Christ, jus' for a cup a flour an' a spoon a lard. An' 
then the coroner come. 'Them children died a heart failure,' 
he said. Put it on his paper. Shiverin', they was, an' their 
bellies stuck out like a pig bladder." 

The circle was quiet, and mouths were open a little. The 
men breathed shallowly, and watched. 

The ragged man looked around at the circle, and then he 
turned and walked quickly away into the darkness. The dark 
swallowed him, but his dragging footsteps could be heard a 



The Grapes of Wrath 261 

long time after he had gone, footsteps along the road; and a 
car came by on the highway, and its lights showed the 
ragged man shuffling along the road, his head hanging down 
and his hands in the black coat pockets. 

The men were uneasy. One said, "Well gettin' late. Got 
to get to sleep." 

The proprietor said, "Prob'ly shif 'less. They's so goddamn 
many shif less fellas on the road now." And then he was 
quiet. And he tipped his chair back against the wall again 
and fingered his throat. 

Tom said, "Guess Fll go see Ma for a minute, an' then we'll 
shove along a piece." The Joad men moved away. 

Pa said, "S'pose he's tellin' the truth-that fella?" 

The preacher answered, u He's tellin' the truth, awright. 
The truth for him. He wasn't makin' nothin' up." 

"How about us?" Tom demanded. "Is that the truth for 
us?" 

"I don' know," said Casy. 

"I don' know," said Pa. 

They walked to the tent, tarpaulin spread over a rope. 
And it was dark inside, and quiet. When they came near, a 
grayish mass stirred near the door and arose to person 
height. Ma came out to meet them. 

"All sleepin'," she said. "Granma finally dozed off." Then 
she saw it was Tom. "How'd you get here? " she demanded 
anxiously. "You ain't had no trouble?" 

"Got her fixed," said Tom. "We're ready to go when the 



rest is." 



"Thank the dear God for that," Ma said. "I'm just a-twit- 
terin' to go on. Wanta get where it's rich an' green. Wanta 
get there quick." 



262 The Grapes of Wrath 

Pa cleared his throat. "Fella was jus' say in' " 

Tom grabbed his arm and yanked it. "Funny what he 
says," Tom said. "Says they's lots a folks on the way." 

Ma peered through the darkness at them. Inside the tent 
Ruthie coughed and snorted in her sleep. "I washed 'em 
up," Ma said. "Fust water we got enough of to give 'em a 
goin'-ovcr. Lef the buckets out for you fellas to wash too. 
Can't keep nothin' clean on the road." 

"Ever'body in?" Pa asked. 

"All but Connie an' Rosasharn. They went off to sleep in 
the open. Says it's too warm in under cover." 

Pa observed querulously, "That Rosasharn is gettin' awful 
scary an' nimsy-mimsy." 

"It's her first," said Ma. "Her an' Connie sets a lot a store 
by it. You done the same thing." 

"We'll go now," Tom said. "Pull off the road a little piece 
ahead. Watch out for us ef we don't see you. Be off right- 
han' side." 

"Al'sstayin'P" 

"Yeah. Leave Uncle John come with us. 'Night, Ma." 

They walked away through the sleeping camp. In front of 
one tent a low fitful fire burned, and a woman watched a 
kettle that cooked early breakfast. The smell of the cooking 
beans was strong and fine. 

"Like to have a plate a them," Tom said politely as 
they went by. 

The woman smiled. "They ain't done or you'd be wel- 
come," she said. "Come aroun' in the daybreak." 

"Thank you, ma'am," Tom said. He and Casy and Uncle 
John walked by the porch. The proprietor still sat in his 
chair, and the lantern hissed and flared. He turned his head 
as the three went by. "Ya runnin' outa gas," Tom said. 



The Grapes of Wrath 263 

"Well, time to close up anyways." 

"No more half-bucks rollin' down the road, I guess," Tom 
said. 

The chair legs hit the floor. "Don't you go a-sassin' me. I 
'member you. You're one of these here troublemakers." 
"Damn right," said Tom. "I'm bolshevisky." 
"They's too damn many of you kinda guys aroun'." 
Tom laughed as they went out the gate and climbed into 
the Dodge. He picked up a clod and threw it at the light. 
They heard it hit the house and saw the proprietor spring 
to his feet and peer into the darkness. Tom started the car 
and pulled into the road. And he listened closely to the 
motor as it turned over, listened for knocks. The road spread 
dimly under the weak lights of the car. 



Chapter Seventeen 

THE cars of the migrant people crawled out of the 
side roads onto the great cross-country highway, and 
they took the migrant way to the West. In the day- 
light they scuttled like bugs to the westward; and as the dark 
caught them, they clustered like bugs near to shelter and to 
water. And because they were lonely and perplexed, because 
they had all come from a place of sadness and worry and 
defeat, and because they were all going to a new mysterious 
place, they huddled together; they talked together; they 
shared their lives, their food, and the things they hoped for 
in the new country. Thus it might be that one family camped 
near a spring, and another camped for the spring and for 
company, and a third because two families had pioneered the 
place and found it good. And when the sun went down, per- 
haps twenty families and twenty cars were there. 

In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty fami- 
lies became one family, the children were the children of all. 
The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the 
West was one dream. And it might be that a sick child threw 
despair into the hearts of twenty families, of a hundred peo- 
ple; that a birth there in a tent kept a hundred people quiet 
and awestruck through the night and filled a hundred people 
with the birth- joy in the morning. A family which the night 
before had been lost and fearful might search its goods to 
find a present for a new baby. In the evening, sitting about 

264 



The Grapes of Wrath 265 

the fires, the twenty were one. They grew to be units of the 
camps, units of the evenings and the nights. A guitar un- 
wrapped from a blanket and tuned and the songs, which 
were all of the people, were sung in the nights. Men sang the 
words, and women hummed the tunes. 

Every night a world created, complete with furniture- 
friends made and enemies established; a world complete with 
braggarts and with cowards, with quiet men, with humble 
men, with kindly men. Every night relationships that make a 
world, established; and every morning the world torn down 
like a circus. 

At first the families were timid in the building and tum- 
bling worlds, but gradually the technique of building worlds 
became their technique. Then leaders emerged, then laws 
were made, then codes came into being. And as the worlds 
moved westward they were more complete and better fur- 
nished, for their builders were more experienced in building 
them. 

The families learned what rights must be observed the 
right of privacy in the tent; the right to keep the past black 
hidden in the heart; the right to talk and to listen; the right 
to refuse help or to accept, to offer help or to decline it; the 
right of son to court and daughter to be courted; the right 
of the hungry to be fed; the rights of the pregnant and the 
sick to transcend all other rights. 

And the families learned, although no one told them, what 
rights are monstrous and must be destroyed: the right to 
intrude upon privacy, the right to be noisy while the camp 
slept, the right of seduction or rape, the right of adultery 
and theft and murder. These rights were crushed, because 
the little worlds could not exist for even a night with such 
rights alive. 



266 The Grapes of Wrath 

And as the worlds moved westward, rules became laws, 
although no one told the families. It is unlawful to foul near 
the camp; it is unlawful in any way to foul the drinking 
water; it is unlawful to eat good rich food near one who is 
hungry, unless he is asked to share. 

And with the laws, the punishments and there were only 
two a quick and murderous fight or ostracism; and ostra- 
cism was the worst. For if one broke the laws his name and 
face went with him, and he had no place in any world, no 
matter where created. 

In the worlds, social conduct became fixed and rigid, so 
that a man must say "Good morning" when asked for it, so 
that a man might have a willing girl if he stayed with her, if 
he fathered her children and protected them. But a man 
might not have one girl one night and another the next, for 
this would endanger the worlds. 

The families moved westward, and the technique of build- 
ing the worlds improved so that the people could be safe in 
their worlds; and the form was so fixed that a family acting 
in the rules knew it was safe in the rules. 

There grew up government in the worlds, with leaders, 
with elders. A man who was wise found that his wisdom was 
needed in every camp; a man who was a fool could not 
change his folly with his world. And a kind of insurance de- 
veloped in these nights. A man with food fed a hungry man, 
and thus insured himself against hunger. And when a baby 
died a pile of silver coins grew at the door flap, for a baby 
must be well buried, since it has had nothing else of life. An 
old man may be left in a potter's field, but not a baby. 

A certain physical pattern is needed for the building of 
a world water, a river bank, a stream, a spring, or even a 
faucet unguarded. And there is needed enough flat land to 



The Grapes of Wrath 267 

pitch the tents, a little brush or wood to build the fires. If 
there is a garbage dump not too far off, all the better; for 
there can be found equipment stove tops, a curved fender 
to shelter the fire, and cans to cook in and to eat from. 

And the worlds were built in the evening. The people, 
moving in from the highways, made them with their tents 
and their hearts and their brains. 

In the morning the tents came down, the canvas was 
folded, the tent poles tied along the running board, the beds 
put in place on the cars, the pots in their places. And as the 
families moved westward, the technique of building up a 
home in the evening and tearing it down with the morning 
light became fixed; so that the folded tent was packed in one 
place, the cooking pots counted in their box. And as the cars 
moved westward, each member of the family grew into his 
proper place, grew into his duties; so that each member, old 
and young, had his place in the car; so that in the weary, hot 
evenings, when the cars pulled into the camping places, each 
member had his duty and went to it without instruction: 
children to gather wood, to carry water; men to pitch the 
tents and bring down the beds; women to cook the supper 
and to watch while the family fed. And this was done with- 
out command. The families, which had been units of which 
the boundaries were a house at night, a farm by day, changed 
their boundaries. In the long hot light, they were silent in the 
cars moving slowly westward; but at night they integrated 
with any group they found. 

Thus they changed their social life changed as in the 
whole universe only man can change. They were not farm 
men any more, but migrant men. And the thought, the plan- 
ning, the long staring silence that had gone out to the fields, 
went now to the roads, to the distance, to the West. That 



268 The Grapes of Wrath 

man whose mind had been bound with acres lived with nar- 
row concrete miles. And his thought and his worry were not 
any more with rainfall, with wind and dust, with the thrust 
of the crops. Eyes watched the tires, ears listened to the clat- 
tering motors, and minds struggled with oil, with gasoline, 
with the thinning rubber between air and road. Then a 
broken gear was tragedy. Then water in the evening was the 
yearning, and food over the fire. Then health to go on was 
the need and strength to go on, and spirit to go on. The wills 
thrust westward ahead of them, and fears that had once 
apprehended drought or flood now lingered with anything 
that might stop the westward crawling. 

The camps became fixed each a short day's journey from 
the last. 

And on the road the panic overcame some of the families, 
so that they drove night and day, stopped to sleep in the cars, 
and drove on to the West, flying from the road, flying from 
movement. And these lusted so greatly to be settled that they 
set their faces into the West and drove toward it, forcing 
the clashing engines over the roads. 

But most of the families changed and grew quickly into 
the new life. And when the sun went down 

Time to look out for a place to stop. 

And there's some tents ahead. 

The car pulled off the road and stopped, and because 
others were there first, certain courtesies were necessary. 
And the man, the leader of the family, leaned from the car. 

Can we pull up here an' sleep? 

Why, sure, be proud to have you. What State you from? 

Come all the way from Arkansas. 

They's Arkansas people down that fourth tent. 

That so? 



The Grapes of Wrath 269 

And the great question, How's the water? 

Well, she don't taste so good, but they's plenty. 

Well, thank ya. 

No thanks to me. 

But the courtesies had to be. The car lumbered over the 
ground to the end tent, and stopped. Then down from the 
car the weary people climbed, and stretched stiff bodies. 
Then the new tent sprang up; the children went for water 
and the older boys cut brush or wood. The fires started and 
supper was put on to boil or to fry. Early comers moved 
over, and States were exchanged, and friends and sometimes 
relatives discovered. 

Oklahoma, huh? What county? 

Cherokee. 

Why, I got folks there. Know the Aliens? They's Aliens 
all over Cherokee. Know the Willises? 

Why, sure. 

And a new unit was formed. The dusk came, but before 
the dark was down the new family was of the camp. A word 
had been passed with every family. They were known peo- 
plegood people. 

I knowed the Aliens all my life. Simon Allen, oF Simon, 
had trouble with his first wife. She was part Cherokee. Purty 
as as a black colt. 

Sure, an' young Simon, he married a Rudolph, didn' he? 
That's what I thought. They went to live in Enid an' done 
well real well. 

Only Allen that ever done well. Got a garage. 

When the water was carried and the wood cut, the chil- 
dren walked shyly, cautiously among the tents. And they 
made elaborate acquaintanceship gestures. A boy stopped 
near another boy and studied a stone, picked it up, examined 



270 The Grapes of Wrath 

it closely, spat on it, and rubbed it clean and inspected it 

until he forced the other to demand, What you go there- 

And casually, Nothin'. Jus' a rock. 

Well, what you lookin' at it like that for? 

Thought I seen gold in it. 

How'd you know? Gold ain't gold, it's black in a rock. 

Sure, everybody knows that. 

I bet it's fool's gold, an' you figgered it was gold. 

That ain't so, 'cause Pa, he's foun' lots a gold an' he toP me 
how to look. 

How'd you like to pick up a big ol' piece a gold? 

Sa-a-ay! Fd git the bigges' old son-a-bitchin' piece a cand)/ 
you ever se^ , 

I ain't let to swear, but I do, anyways. 

Me too. Le's go to the spring. 

And young girls found each other and boasted shyly of 
their popularity and their prospects. The women worked 
over the fire, hurrying to get food to the stomachs of the 
family pork if there was money in plenty, pork and pota- 
toes and onions. Dutch-oven biscuits or cornbread, and 
plenty of gravy to go over it. Side-meat or chops and a can 
of boiled tea, black and bitter. Fried dough in drippings if 
money was slim, dough fried crisp and brown and the drip- 
pings poured ^r it. 

Those farm,. > which were very rich or very foolish with 
their money ate canned beans and canned peaches and pack- 
aged bread and bakery cake; but they ate secretly, in their 
tents, for it would not have been good to eat such fine things 
openly. Even so, children eating their fried dough smelled 
the warming beans and were unhappy about it. 

When supper was over and the dishes dipped and wiped, 
the dark had come, and then the men squatted down to talk. 



The Grapes of Wrath if\ 

And they talked of the land behind them. I don* R.tbvV 
what it's coming to, they said. The country's spoilt. 

It'll come back though, on'y we won't be there. 

Maybe, they thought, maybe we sinned some way we 
didn't know abouc. ucs> 

Fella says to me, gov'ment fella, an' he says, sheYung '<i,ed 
up on ya. Gov'ment fella. Fie says, if ya plowed 'ci '>ss die 
contour, she won't gully. Never did have no chance to try 
her. An' the new super' ain't plowin' 'cross the contour. 
Runnin' a furrow four miles long that ain't stoppin' or goin' 
aroun' Jesus Christ Hisself. 

And they spoke softly of their homes: They was a little 
cool-house under the win'mill. Use' ta kec i lilk in there ta 
cream up, an' watermelons. Go in there midday when she 
was hotter'n a heifer, an' she'd be jus' as cool, as cool as 
you'd want. Cut open a melon in there an' she'd hurt your 
mouth, she was so cool. Water drippin' down from the tank. 

They spoke of their tragedies: Had a brother Charley, 
hair as yella as corn, an' him a gr./wcd man. Played the 'cor- 
deen nice too. He was harrowin' one day an' he went up to 
clear his lines. Well, a rattlesnake buzzed an' them horses 
bolted an' the harrow went over Charley, an' the points dug 
into his guts an' his stomach, an' they pulled his face off an' 
God Almighty! 

They spoke of the future: Wonder . ,.at it's like out 
there? 

Well, the pitchers sure do look nice. I seen one where it's 
hot an' fine, an' walnut trees an' berries; an' right behind, 
close as a mule's ass to his withers, they's a tall up mountain 
covered with snow. That was a pretty thing to see. 

If we can get work it'll be fine. Won't have no cold in the 
winter. Kids won't freeze on the way to school. I'm gonna 



2^ The Grapes of Wrath 

ta,j o care my kids don't miss no more school. I can read good, 

but it ain't no pleasure to me like with a fella that's used to it. 

And perhaps a man brought out his guitar to the front of 
his tent. And he sat on a box to play, and everyone in the 
slowly in toward him, drawn in toward him. 
can chord a guitar, but perhaps this man was a 
picker , There you have something the deep chords beating, 
beating, while the melody runs on the strings like little foot- 
steps. Heavy hard fingers marching on the frets. The man 
played and the people moved slowly in on him until the cir- 
cle was closed and tight, and then he sang "Ten-Cent Cotton 
and Forty-Cent Meat." And the circle sang softly with him. 
And he sang "Why Do You Cut Your Hair, Girls?" And the 
circle sang. He wailed the song, "I'm Leaving Old Texas," 
that eerie song that was sung before the Spaniards came, 
only the words were Indian then. 

And now the group was welded to one thing, one unit, 
so that in the dark the eyes of the people were inward, and 
their minds played in other times, and their sadness was like 
rest, like sleep. He sang the "McAlester Blues" and then, to 
make up for it to the older people, he sang "Jesus Calls Me to 
His Side." The children drowsed with the music and went 
into the tents to sleep, and the singing came into their dreams. 

And after a while the man with the guitar stood up and 
yawned. Good night, folks, he said. 

And they murmured, Good night to you. 

And each wished he could pick a guitar, because it is a 
gracious thing. Then the people went to their beds, and the 
camp was quiet. And the owls coasted overhead, and the 
coyotes gabbled in the distance, and into the camp skunks 
walked, looking for bits of food waddling, arrogant skunks, 
afraid of nothing. 



The Grapes of Wrath 273 

The night passed, and with the first streak of dawn the 
women came out of the tents, built up the fires, and put the 
coffee to boil. And the men came out and talked softly in the 
dawn. 

When you cross the Colorado river, there's the desert, 
they say. Look out for the desert. See you don't get hung up. 
Take plenty water, case you get hung up. 

I'm gonna take her at night. 

Me too. She'll cut the living Jesus outa you. 

The families ate quickly, and the dishes were dipped and 
wiped. The tents came down. There was a rush to go. And 
when the sun arose, the camping place was vacant, only a 
little litter left by the people. And the camping place was 
ready for a new world in a new night. 

But along the highway the cars of the migrant people 
crawled out like bugs, and the narrow concrete miles 
stretched ahead. 



Chapter Eighteen 

THE Joad family moved slowly westward, up into the 
mountains of New Mexico, past the pinnacles and 
pyramids of the upland. They climbed into the high 
country of Arizona, and through a gap they looked down on 
the Painted Desert. A border guard stopped them. 

"Where you going?" 

"To California," said Tom. 

"How long you plan to be in Arizona?" 

"No longer'n we can get acrost her." 

"Got any plants?" 

"No plants." 

"I ought to look your stuff over." 

"I tell you we ain't got no plants." 

The guard put a little sticker on the windshield. 

"O.K. Go ahead, but you better keep movin'." 

"Sure. We aim to." 

They crawled up the slopes, and the low twisted trees cov- 
ered the slopes. Holbrook, Joseph City, Winslow. And then 
the tall trees began, and the cars spouted steam and labored 
up the slopes. And there was Flagstaff, and that was the top 
of it all. Down from Flagstaff over the great plateaus, and the 
road disappeared in the distance ahead., The water grew 
scarce, water was to be bought, five cents, ten cents, fifteen 
cents a gallon. The sun drained the dry rocky country, and 
ahead were jagged broken peaks, the western wall of Ari- 
zona. And now they were in flight from the sun and the 

274 



The Grapes of Wrath 275 

drought. They drove all night, and came to the mountains 
in the night. And they crawled the jagged ramparts in the 
night, and their dim lights flickered on the pale stone walls 
of the road. They passed the summit in the dark and came 
slowly down in the late night, through the shattered stone 
debris of Oatman; and when the daylight came they saw the 
Colorado river below them. They drove to Topock, pulled 
up at the bridge while a guard washed off the windshield 
sticker. Then across the bridge and into the broken rock 
wilderness. And although they were dead weary and the 
morning heat was growing, they stopped. 

Pa called, "We're there we're in California!" They looked 
dully at the broken rock glaring under the sun, and across 
the river the terrible ramparts of Arizona. 

"We got the desert," said Tom. "We got to get to the 
water and rest." 

The road runs parallel to the river, and it was well into the 
morning when the burning motors came to Needles, where 
the river runs swiftly among the reeds. 

The Joads and Wilsons drove to the river, and they sat 
in the cars looking at the lovely water flowing by, and the 
green reeds jerking slowly in the current. There was a little 
encampment by the river, eleven tents near the water, and 
the swamp grass on the ground. And Tom leaned out of the 
truck window. "Mind if we stop here a piece?" 

A stout woman, scrubbing clothes in a bucket, looked up. 
"We don't own it, mister. Stop if you want. They'll be a cop 
down to look you over." And she went back to her scrub- 
bing in the sun. 

The two cars pulled to a clear place on the swamp grass. 
The tents were passed down, the Wilson tent set up, the Joad 
tarpaulin stretched over its rope. 



276 The Grapes of Wrath 

Winfield and Ruthie walked slowly down through the 
willows to the reedy place. Ruthie said, with soft vehemence, 
"California. This here's California an' we're right in it!" 

Winfield broke a tule and twisted it free, and he put the 
white pulp in his mouth and chewed it. They walked into 
the water and stood quietly, the water about the calves of 
their legs. 

"We got the desert yet," Ruthie said. 

"What's the desert like?" 

"I don't know. I seen pitchers once says a desert. They 
was bones ever'place." 

"Man bones?" 

"Some, I guess, but mos'ly cow bones." 

"We gonna get to see them bones?" 

"Maybe. I don' know. Gonna go 'crost her at night. That's 
what Tom said. Tom says we get the livin' Jesus burned outa 
us if we go in daylight." 

"Feels nicet an' cool," said Winfield, and he squidged his 
toes in the sand of the bottom. 

They heard Ma calling, "Ruthie! Winfiel'! You come 
back." They turned and walked slowly back through the 
reeds and the willows. 

The other tents were quiet. For a moment, when the cars 
came up, a few heads had stuck out between the flaps, and 
then were withdrawn. Now the family tents were up and the 
men gathered together. 

Tom said, "I'm gonna go down an' take a bath. That's 
what I'm gonna do before I sleep. How's Granma sence we 
got her in the tent?" 

"Don' know," said Pa. "Couldn' seem to wake her up." 
He cocked his head toward the tent. A whining, babbling 



The Grapes of Wrath 277 

voice came from under the canvas. Ma went quickly inside. 

"She woke up, awright," said Noah. "Seems like all night 
she was a-croakin' up on the truck. She's all outa sense." 

Tom said, "Hell! She's wore out. If she don't get some 
res' pretty soon, she ain' gonna las'. She's jes' wore out. Any- 
body comin' with me? I'm gonna wash, an' I'm gonna sleep 
in the shade all day long." He moved away, and the other 

men followed him. They took off their clothes in the wil- 

j 

lows and then they walked into the water and sat down. For 
a long time they sat, holding themselves with heels dug into 
the sand, and only their heads stuck out of the water. 

"Jesus, I needed this," Al said. He took a handful of sand 
from the bottom and scrubbed himself with it. They lay in 
the water and looked across at the sharp peaks called Needles, 
and at the white rock mountains of Arizona. 

"We come through them," Pa said in wonder. 

Uncle John ducked his head under the water. "Well, 
we're here. This here's California, an' she don't look so pros- 
perous." 

"Got the desert yet," said Tom. "An' I hear she's a son-of- 
a-bitch." 

Noah asked, "Gonna try her tonight?" 

"What ya think, Pa?" Tom asked. 

"Well, I don' know. Do us good to get a little res', 'spe- 
cially Granma. But other ways, I'd kinda like to get acrost 
her an' get settled into a job. On'y got 'bout forty dollars 
left. I'll feel better when we're all workin', an' a little money 
comin' in." 

Each man sat in the water and felt the tug of the current. 
The preacher let his arms and hands float on the surface. The 
bodies were white to the neck and wrists, and burned dark 



278 The Grapes of Wrath 

brown on hands and faces, with V's of brown at the collar 

bones. They scratched themselves with sand. 

And Noah said lazily, "Like to jus' stay here. Like to lay 
here forever. Never get hungry an' never get sad. Lay in the 
water all life long, lazy as a brood sow in the mud." 

And Tom, looking at the ragged peaks across the river 
and the Needles downstream: "Never seen such tough moun- 
tains. This here's a murder country. This here's the bones of 
a country. Wonder if we'll ever get in a place where folks 
can live 'thout fightin' hard scrabble an' rocks. I seen pitchers 
of a country flat an' green, an' with little houses like Ma says, 
white. Ma got her heart set on a white house. Get to thinkin' 
they ain't no such country. I seen pitchers like that." 

Pa said, "Wait till we get to California. You'll see nice 
country then." 

"Jesus Christ, Pa! This here is California." 

Two men dressed in jeans and sweaty blue shirts came 
through the willows and looked toward the naked men. They 
called, "How's the swimmin'?" 

"Dunno," said Tom. "We ain't tried none. Sure feels good 
to set here, though." 

"Mind if we come in an' set?" 

"She ain't our river. We'll len' you a little piece of her." 

The men shucked off their pants, peeled their shirts, and 
waded out. The dust coated their legs to the knee; their feet 
were pale and soft with sweat. They settled lazily into the 
water and washed listlessly at their flanks. Sun-bitten, they 
were, a father and a boy. They grunted and groaned with the 
water. 

Pa asked politely, "Coin' west?" 

"Nope. We come from there. Goin' back home. We can't 
make no livin' out there." 



The Grapes of Wrath 279 

"Where's home?" Tom asked. 

"Panhandle, come from near Pampa." 

Pa asked, "Can you make a livin' there?" 

"Nope. But at leas' we can starve to death with folks we 
know. Won't have a bunch a fellas that hates us to starve 
with." 

Pa said, "Ya know, you're the second fella talked like that. 
What makes 'em hate you?" 

"Dunno," said the man. He cupped his hands full of water 
and rubbed his face, snorting and bubbling. Dusty water ran 
out of his hair and streaked his neck. 

"I like to hear some more 'bout this," said Pa. 

"Me too," Tom added. "Why these folks out west hate 
ya?" 

The man looked sharply at Tom. "You jus' goin' wes'?" 

"Jus' on our way." 

"You ain't never been in California?" 

"No, we ain't." 

"Well, don' take my word. Go see for yourself." 

"Yeah," Tom said, "but a fella kind a likes to know what 
he's gettin' into." 

"Well, if you truly wanta know, I'm a fella that's asked 
questions an' give her some thought. She's a nice country. 
But she was stole a long time ago. You git acrost the desert 
an' come into the country aroun' Bakersfield. An' you never 
seen such purty country all orchards an' grapes, purtiest 
country you ever seen. An' you'll pass Ian' flat an' fine with 
water thirty feet down, and that lan's layin' fallow. But you 
can't have none of that Ian'. That's a Lan' and Cattle Com- 
pany. An' if they don't want ta work her, she ain't gonna git 
worked. You go in there an' plant you a little corn, an' you'll 
go to jail!" 



280 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Good Ian', you say? An' they ain't workin' her?" 
"Yes, sir. Good Ian' an' they ain't! Well, sir, that'll get you 
a little mad, but you ain't seen nothin'. People gonna have a 
look in their eye. They gonna look at you an' their face says, 
*I don't like you, you son-of-a-bitch.' Gonna be deputy 
sheriffs, an' they'll push you aroun'. You camp on the road- 
side, an' they'll move you on. You gonna see in people's face 
how they hate you. An' I'll tell you somepin. They hate you 
'cause they're scairt. They know a hungry fella gonna get 
food even if he got to take it. They know that fallow lan's 
a sin an' somebody' gonna take it. What the hell! You never 
been called 'Okie' yet." 
Tom said, "Okie? What's that?" 

"Well, Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it 
means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're 
scum. Don't mean nothing itself, it's the way they say it. But 
I can't tell you nothin'. You got to go there. I hear there's 
three hunderd thousan' of our people there an' livin' like 
hogs, 'cause ever'thing in California is owned. They ain't 
nothin' left. An' them people that owns it is gonna hang on 
to it if they got ta kill ever'body in the worl' to do it. An' 
they're scairt, an' that makes 'em mad. You got to see it. You 
got to hear it. Purtiest goddamn country you ever seen, but 
they ain't nice to you, them folks. They're so scairt an' wor- 
ried they ain't even nice to each other." 

Tom looked down into the water, and he dug his heels 
into the sand. "S'pose a fella got work an' saved, couldn' he 
get a little Ian'?" 

The older man laughed and he looked at his boy, and his 
silent boy grinned almost in triumph. And the man said, 
"You ain't gonna get no steady work. Gonna scrabble for 
your dinner ever' day. An' you gonna do her with people 



The Grapes of Wrath 281 

lookin' mean at you. Pick cotton, an' you gonna be sure the 
scales ain't honest. Some of 'em is, an' some of 'em ain't. But 
you gonna think all the scales is crooked, an' you don' know 
which ones. Ain't nothin' you can do about her anyways." 

Pa asked slowly, "Ain't ain't it nice out there at all?" 

"Sure, nice to look at, but you can't have none of it. 
They's a grove of yella oranges an' a guy with a gun that 
got the right to kill you if you touch one. They's a fella, 
newspaper fella near the coast, got a million acres " 

Casy looked up quickly, "Million acres? What in the worP 
can he do with a million acres?" 

"I dunno. He jus' got it. Runs a few cattle. Got guards 
ever'place to keep folks out. Rides aroun' in a bullet-proof 
car. I seen pitchers of him. Fat, sof ' fella with little mean eyes 
an' a mouth like a ass-hole. Scairt he's gonna die. Got a mil- 
lion acres an' scairt of dyin'." 

Casy demanded, "What in hell can he do with a million 
acres? What's he want a million acres for?" 

The man took his whitening, puckering hands out of the 
water and spread them, and he tightened his lower lip and 
bent his head down to one shoulder. "I dunno," he said. 
"Guess he's crazy. Mus' be crazy. Seen a pitcher of him. He 
looks crazy. Crazy an' mean." 

"Say he's scairt to die?" Casy asked. 

"That's what I heard." 

"Scairt God'll get him?" 

"I dunno. Jus' scairt." 

"What's he care?" Pa said. "Don't seem like he's havin' no 
fun." 

"Grampa wasn't scairt," Tom said. "When Grampa was 
havin' the most fun, he come clostest to gettin' kil't. Time 
Grampa an' another fella whanged into a bunch a Navajo in 



282 The Grapes of Wrath 

the night. They was havin' the time a their life, an' same time 

you wouldn' give a gopher for their chance." 

Casy said, "Seems lik^that's the way. Fella havin' fun, he 
don't give a damn; but a fella mean an' lonely an' old an' dis- 
appointedhe's scared of dyin'!" 

Pa asked, "What's he disappointed about if he got a mil- 
lion acres?" 

The preacher smiled, and he looked puzzled. He splashed a 
floating water bug away with his hand. "If he needs a million 
acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he 
feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in hisself, 
there ain't no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an' 
maybe he's disappointed that nothin' he can do'll make him 
feel rich not rich like Mis' Wilson was when she give her 
tent when Grampa died. I ain't tryin' to preach no sermon, 
but I never seen nobody that's busy as a prairie dog collectin' 
stuff that wasn't disappointed." He grinned. "Does kinda 
soun' like a sermon, don't it?" 

The sun was flaming fiercely now. Pa said, "Better scrunch 
down under water. She'll burn the living Jesus outa you." 
And he reclined and let the gently moving water flow around 
his neck. "If a fella's willin' to work hard, can't he cut her?" 
Pa asked. 

The man sat up and faced him. "Look, mister. I don' know 
ever'thing. You might go out there an' fall into a steady job, 
an' I'd be a liar. An' then, you might never get no work, an' 
I didn' warn ya. I can tell ya mos' of the folks is purty 
mis'able." He lay back in the water. "A fella don' know 
ever'thing," he said. 

Pa turned his head and looked at Uncle John. "You never 
was a fella to say much," Pa said. "But I'll be goddamned if 



The Grapes of Wrath 283 

you opened your mouth twicet sence we lef home. What 
you think 'bout this here?" 

Uncle John scowled. "I don't think nothin' about it. We're 
a-goin' there, ain't we? None of this here talk gonna keep us 
from goin' there. When we get there, we'll get there. When 
we get a job we'll work, an' when we don't get a job we'll 
set on our tail. This here talk ain't gonna do no good no 
way." 

Tom lay back and filled his mouth with water, and he 
spurted it into the air and he laughed. "Uncle John don't 
talk much, but he talks sense. Yes, by God! He talks sense. 
We goin' on tonight, Pa?" 

"Might's well. Might's well get her over." 

"Well, I'm goin' up in the brush an' get some sleep then." 
Tom stood up and waded to the sandy shore. He slipped his 
clothes on his wet body and winced under the heat of the 
cloth. The others followed him. 

In the water, the man and his boy watched the Joads dis- 
appear. And the boy said, "Like to see 'em in six months. 
Jesus!" 

The man wiped his eye corners with his forefinger. "I 
shouldn' of did that," he said. "Fella always wants to be a 
wise guy, wants to tell folks stuff." 

"Well, Jesus, Pa! They asked for it." 

"Yeah, I know. But like that fella says, they're a-goin' any- 
ways. Nothin' won't be changed from what I tol' 'em, 'cept 
they'll be mis'able 'fore they hafta." 

Tom walked in among the willows, and he crawled into a 
cave of shade to lie down. And Noah followed him. 
"Gonna sleep here," Tom said. 



284 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Tom!" 

"Yeah?" 

"Torn, I ain't a-goin' on." 

Tom sat up. "What you mean?" 

"Tom, I ain't a-gonna leave this here water. I'm a-gonna 
walk on down this here river." 

"You're crazy," Tom said. 

"Get myself a piece a line. I'll catch fish. Fella can't starve 
beside a nice river." 

Tom said, "How 'bout the fam'ly? How 'bout Ma?" 

"I can't he'p it. I can't leave this here water." Noah's wide- 
set eyes were half closed. "You know how it is, Tom. You 
know how the folks are nice to me. But they don't really 
care for me." 

"You're crazy." 

"No, I ain't. I know how I am. I know they're sorry. 
But Well, I ain't a-goin'. You tell Ma Tom." 

"Now you look-a-here," Tom began. 

"No. It ain't no use. I was in that there water. An' I ain't 
a-gonna leave her. I'm a-gonna go now, Tom down the 
river. I'll catch fish an' stuff, but I can't leave her. I can't." 
He crawled back out of the willow cave. "You tell Ma, 
Tom." He walked away. 

Tom followed him to the river bank. "Listen, you god- 
damn fool " 

"It ain't no use," Noah said. "I'm sad, but I can't he'p it. I 
got to go." He turned abruptly and walked downstream 
along the shore. Tom started to follow, and then he stopped. 
He saw Noah disappear into the brush, and then appear 
again, following the edge of the river. And he watched Noah 
growing smaller on the edge of the river, until he disap- 
peared into the wallows at last. And Tom took off his cap 



The Grapes of Wrath 285 

and scratched his head. He went back to his willow cave and 
lay down to sleep. 

Under the spread tarpaulin Granma lay on a mattress, and 
Ma sat beside her. The air was stiflingly hot, and the flies 
buzzed in the shade of the canvas. Granma was naked under 
a long piece of pink curtain. She turned her old head rest- 
lessly from side to side, and she muttered and choked. Ma 
sat on the ground beside her, and with a piece of cardboard 
drove the flies away and fanned a stream of moving hot air 
over the tight old face. Rose of Sharon sat on the other side 
and watched her mother. 

Granma called imperiously, "Will! Will! You come here, 
Will." And her eyes opened and she looked fiercely about. 
"To!' him to come right here," she said. "I'll catch him. I'll 
take the hair ofFn him." She closed her eyes and rolled her 
head back and forth and muttered thickly. Ma fanned with 
the cardboard. 

Rose of Sharon looked helplessly at the old woman. She 
said softly, "She's awful sick." 

Ma raised her eyes to the girl's face. Ma's eyes were pa- 
tient, but the lines of strain were on her forehead. Ma fanned 
and fanned the air, and her piece of cardboard warned off the 
flies. "When you're young, Rosasharn, ever'thing that hap- 
pens is a thing all by itself. It's a lonely thing. I know, I 
'member, Rosasharn." Her mouth loved the name of her 
daughter. "You're gonna have a baby, Rosasharn, and that's 
somepin to you lonely and away. That's gonna hurt you, an* 
the hurt'll be lonely hurt, an' this here tent is alone in the 
worP, Rosasharn." She whipped the air for a moment to 
drive a buzzing blow fly on, and the big shining fly circled 
the tent twice and zoomed out into the blinding sunlight. 



200 The Grapes of Wrath 

And Ma went on, "They's a time of change, an' when that 
comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearin' is a piece of 
all bearin', an' bearin' an' dyin' is two pieces of the same 
thing. An' then things ain't lonely any more. An' then a hurt 
don't hurt so bad, 'cause it ain't a lonely hurt no more, Rosa- 
sharn. I wisht I could tell you so you'd know, but I can't." 
And her voice was so soft, so full of love, that tears crowded 
into Rose of Sharon's eyes, and flowed over her eyes and 
blinded her. 

"Take an' fan Granma," Ma said, and she handed the card- 
board to her daughter. "That's a good thing to do. I wisht 
I could tell you so you'd know." 

Granma, scowling her brows down over her closed eyes, 
bleated, "Will! You're dirty! You ain't never gonna get 
clean." Her little wrinkled claws moved up and scratched 
her cheek. A red ant ran up the curtain cloth and scrambled 
over the folds of loose skin on the old lady's neck. Ma 
reached quickly and picked it off, crushed it between thumb 
and forefinger, and brushed her fingers on her dress. 

Rose of Sharon waved the cardboad fan. She looked up at 
Ma. "She?" And the words parched in her throat. 

"Wipe your feet, Will you dirty pig!" Granma cried. 

Ma said, "I dunno. Maybe if we can get her where it ain't 
so hot, but I dunno. Don't worry yourself, Rosasharn. Take 
your breath in when you need it, an' let it go when you need 
to." 

A large woman in a torn black dress looked into the tent. 
Her eyes were bleared and indefinite, arid the skin sagged to 
her jowls and hung down in little flaps. Her lips were loose, 
so that the upper lip hung like a curtain over her teeth, and 
her lower lip, by its weight, folded outward, showing her 



The Grapes of Wrath 287 

lower gums. "Mornin', ma'am," she said. "Mornin', an' praise 
God for victory." 

Ma looked around. "Mornin'," she said. 

The woman stooped into the tent and bent her head over 
Granma. "We heerd you got a soul here ready to join her 
Jesus. Praise God!" 

Ma's face tightened and her eyes grew sharp. "She's tar'd, 
tha's all," Ma said. "She's wore out with the road an' the heat. 
She's jus' wore out. Get a little res', an' she'll be well." 

The woman leaned down over Granma's face, and she 
seemed almost to sniff. Then she turned to Ma and nodded 
quickly, and her lips jiggled and her jowls quivered. "A dear 
soul gonna join her Jesus," she said. 

Ma cried, "That ain't so!" 

The woman nodded, slowly, this time, and put a puffy 
hand on Granma's forehead. Ma reached to snatch the hand 
away, and quickly restrained herself. "Yes, it's so, sister," the 
\voman said. "We got six in Holiness in our tent. I'll go git 
'em, an' we'll hoi' a meetin' a prayer an' grace. Jehovites, 
all. Six, countin' me. I'll go git 'em out." 

Ma stiffened. "No no," she said. "No, Granma's tar'd. She 
couldn't stan' a meetin'." 

The woman said, "Couldn't stan' grace? Couldn' stan' the 
sweet breath of Jesus? What you talkin' about, sister?" 

Ma said, "No, not here. She's too tar'd." 

The woman looked reproachfully at Ma. "Ain't you be- 
lievers, ma'am?" 

"We always been Holiness," Ma said, "but Granma's tar'd, 
an' we been a-goin' all night. We won't trouble you." 

"It ain't no trouble, an' if it was, we'd want ta do it for a 
soul a-soarin' to the Lamb." 



288 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma arose to her knees. "We thank ya," she said coldly. 
"We ain't gonna have no meetin' in this here tent." 

The woman looked at her for a long time. "Well, we ain't 
a-gonna let a sister go away 'thout a little praisin'. We'll git 
the meetin' goin' in our own tent, ma'am. An' we'll forgive 
ya for your hard heart." 

Ma settled back again and turned her face to Granma, and 
her face was still set and hard. "She's tar'd," Ma said. "She's 
on'y tar'd." Granma swung her head back and forth and 
muttered under her breath. 

The woman walked stiffly out of the tent. Ma continued 
to look down at the old face. 

Rose of Sharon fanned her cardboard and moved the hot 
air in a stream. She said, "Ma! " 

"Yeah?" 

"Whyn't ya let 'em hoi' a meetin'?" 

"I dunno," said Ma. "Jehovites is good people. They're 
howlers an' jumpers. I dunno. Somepin jus' come over me. I 
didn' think I could stan' it. I'd jus' fly all apart." 

From some little distance there came the sound of the 
beginning meeting, a sing-song chant of exhortation. The 
words were not clear, only the tone. The voice rose and fell, 
and went higher at each rise. Now a response filled in the 
pause, and the exhortation went up with a tone of triumph, 
and a growl of power came into the voice. It swelled and 
paused, and a growl came into the response. And now gradu- 
ally the sentences of exhortation shortened, grew sharper, 
like commands; and into the responses came a complaining 
note. The rhythm quickened. Male and female voices had 
been one tone, but now in the middle of a response one 
woman's voice went up and up in a wailing cry, wild and 
fierce, like the cry of a beast; and a deeper woman's voice 



The Grapes of Wrath 289 

rose up beside it, a baying voice, and a man's voice traveled 
up the scale in the howl of a wolf. The exhortation stopped, 
and only the feral howling came from the tent, and with it a 
thudding sound on the earth. Ma shivered. Rose of Sharon's 
breath was panting and short, and the chorus of howls went 
3n so long it seemed that lungs must burst. 

Ma said, "Makes me nervous. Somepin happened to me." 

Now the high voice broke into hysteria, the gabbling 
screams of a hyena, the thudding became louder. Voices 
cracked and broke, and then the whole chorus fell to a sob- 
bing, grunting undertone, and the slap of flesh and the thud- 
dings on the earth; and the sobbing changed to a little 
Chining, like that of a litter of puppies at a food dish. 

Rose of Sharon cried softly with nervousness. Granma 
kicked the curtain off her legs, which lay like gray, knotted 
sticks. And Granma whined with the whining in the distance. 
Ma pulled the curtain back in place. And then Granma 
sighed deeply and her breathing grew steady and easy, and 
her closed eyelids ceased their flicking. She slept deeply, and 
snored through her half-open mouth. The whining from the 
distance was softer and softer until it could not be heard at 
ill any more. 

Rose of Sharon looked at Ma, and her eyes were blank 
with tears. "It done good," said Rose of Sharon. "It done 
Granma good. She's a-sleepin'." 

Ma's head was down, and she was ashamed. "Maybe I done 
them good people wrong. Granma is asleep." 

"Whyn't you ast our preacher if you done a sin?" the girl 
asked. 

"I will but he's a queer man. Maybe it's him made me tell 
them people they couldn' come here. That preacher, he's 
tin' roun' to thinkin' that what people does is right to 



290 The Grapes of Wrath 

do." Ma looked at her hands, and then she said, "Rosasharn, 
we got to sleep. 'F we're gonna go tonight, we got to sleep." 
She stretched out on the ground beside the mattress. 

Rose of Sharon asked, "How about fannin' Granma?" 

"She's asleep now. You lay down an' rest." 

"I wonder where at Connie is?" the girl complained. "I 
ain't seen him around for a long time." 

Ma said, "Sh! Get some rest." 

"Ma, Connie gonna study nights an' get to be somepin." 

"Yeah. You tol' me about that. Get some rest." 

The girl lay down on the edge of Granma's mattress. 
"Connie's got a new plan. He's thinkin' all a time. When he 
gets all up on 'lectricity he gonna have his own store, an' 
then guess what we gonna have?" 

"What?" 

"Ice all the ice you want. Gonna have a ice box. Keep it 
full. Stuff don't spoil if you got ice." 

"Connie's thinkin' all a time," Ma chuckled. "Better get 
some rest now." 

Rose of Sharon closed her eyes. Ma turned over on her 
back and crossed her hands under her head. She listened to 
Granma's breathing and to the girl's breathing. She moved a 
hand to start a fly from her forehead. The camp was quiet 
in the blinding heat, but the noises of hot grass of crickets, 
the hum of flies were a tone that was close to silence. Ma 
sighed deeply and then yawned and closed her eyes. In her 
half-sleep she heard footsteps approaching, but it was a man's 
voice that started her awake. 

"Who's in here?" 

Ma sat up quickly. A brown-faced man bent over and 
looked in. He wore boots and khaki pants and a khaki shirt 
with epaulets. On a Sam Browne belt a pistol holster hung, 



The Grapes of Wrath 291 

and a big silver star was pinned to his shirt at the left breast. 
A loose-crowned military cap was on the back of his head. 
He beat on the tarpaulin with his hand, and the tight canvas 
vibrated like a drum. 

" Who's in here?" he demanded again. 

Ma asked, "What is it you want, mister?" 

"What you think I want? I want to know who's in here." 

"Why, they's jus' us three in here. Me an' Granma an' my 
girl." 

"Where's your men?" 

"Why, they went down to clean up. We was drivin' all 
night." 

"Where'd you come from?" 

"Right near Sallisaw, Oklahoma." 

"Well, you can't stay here." 

"We aim to get out tonight an' cross the desert, mister." 

"Well, you better. If you're here tomorra this time I'll 
run you in. We don't want none of you settlin' down here." 

Ma's face blackened with anger. She got slowly to her feet. 
She stooped to the utensil box and picked out the iron skillet. 
"Mister," she said, "you got a tin button an' a gun. Where I 
come from, you keep your voice down." She advanced on 
him with the skillet. He loosened the gun in the holster. "Go 
ahead," said Ma. "Scarin' women. I'm thankful the men folks 
ain't here. They'd tear ya to pieces. In my country you 
watch your tongue." 

The man took two steps backward. "Well, you ain't in 
your country now. You're in California, an' we don't want 
you goddamn Okies settlin' down." 

Ma's advance stopped. She looked puzzled. "Okies?" she 
said softly. "Okies." 

"Yeah, Okies! An' if you're here when I come tomorra, 



292 The Grapes of Wrath 

I'll run ya in." He turned and walked to the next tent and 

banged on the canvas with his hand. "Who's in here?" he 

said. 

Ma went slowly back under the tarpaulin. She put the 
skillet in the utensil box. She sat down slowly. Rose of 
Sharon watched her secretly. And when she saw Ma fighting 
with her face, Rose of Sharon closed her eyes and pretended 
to be asleep. 

The sun sank low in the afternoon, but the heat did not 
seem to decrease. Tom awakened under his willow, and his 
mouth was parched and his body was wet with sweat, and his 
head was dissatisfied with his rest. He staggered to his feet 
and walked toward the water. He peeled off his clothes and 
waded into the stream. And the moment the water was about 
him, his thirst was gone. He lay back in the shallows and his 
body floated. He held himself in place with his elbows in the 
sand, and looked at his toes, which bobbed above the surface. 

A pale skinny little boy crept like an animal through the 
reeds and slipped off his clothes. And he squirmed into the 
water like a muskrat, and pulled himself along like a muskrat, 
only his eyes and nose above the surface. Then suddenly he 
saw Tom's head and saw that Tom was watching him. He 
stopped his game and sat up. 

Tom said, "Hello." 

'"Lo!" 

"Looks like you was playin' mushrat." 

"Well, I was." He edged gradually away toward the bank; 
he moved casually, and then he leaped out, gathered his 
clothes with a sweep of his arms, and was gone among the 
willows. 

Tom laughed quietly. And then he heard his name called 



The Grapes of Wrath 293 

shrilly. "Tom, oh, Tom!" He sat up in the water and whis- 
tled through his teeth, a piercing whistle with a loop on the 
end. The willows shook, and Ruthie stood looking at him. 

"Ma wants you," she said. "Ma wants you right away." 

"Awright." He stood up and strode through the water to 
the shore; and Ruthie looked with interest and amazement at 
his naked body. 

Tom, seeing the direction of her eyes, said, "Run on now. 
Git! " And Ruthie ran. Tom heard her calling excitedly for 
Winfield as she went. He put the hot clothes on his cool, 
wet body and he walked slowly up through the willows 
toward the tent. 

Ma had started a fire of dry willow twigs, and she had a 
pan of water heating. She looked relieved when she saw him. 

"What's a matter, Ma?" he asked. 

"I was scairt," she said. "They was a policeman here. He 
says we can't stay here. I was scairt he talked to you. I was 
scairt you'd hit him if he talked to you." 

Tom said, "What'd I go an' hit a policeman for?" 

Ma smiled. "Well he talked so bad I nearly hit him my- 
self." 

Tom grabbed her arm and shook her roughly and loosely, 
and he laughed. He sat down on the ground, still laughing. 
"My God, Ma. I knowed you when you was gentle. What's 
come over you?" 

She looked serious. "I don' know, Tom." 

"Fust you stan } us off with a jack handle, and now you try 
to hit a cop." He laughed softly, and he reached out and pat- 
ted her bare foot tenderly. "A oP hell-cat," he said. 

"Tom." 

"Yeah?" 

She hesitated a long time. "Tom, this here policeman he 



294 The Grapes of Wrath 

called us Okies. He says, 'We don' want you goddamn 

Okies settlin' down.' " 

Tom studied her, and his hand still rested gently on her 
bare foot. "Fella tol' about that," he said. "Fella tol' how 
they say it." He considered, "Ma, would you say I was a bad 
fella? Oughta be locked up like that?" 

"No," she said. "You been tried No. What you ast me 
for?" 

"Well, I dunno. I'd a took a sock at that cop." 

Ma smiled with amusement. "Maybe I oughta ast you that, 
'cause I nearly hit 'im with a skillet." 

"Ma, why'd he say we couldn' stop here?" 

"Jus' says they don' want no damn Okies settlin' down. 
Says he's gonna run us in if we're here tomorra." 

"But we ain't use' ta gettin' shoved aroun' by no cops." 

"I tol' him that," said Ma. "He says we ain't home now. 
We're in California, and they do what they want." 

Tom said uneasily, "Ma, I got somepin to tell ya. Noah- 
he went on down the river. He ain't a-goin' on." 
t It took a moment for Ma to understand. "Why? " she asked 
softly. 

"I dori' know. Says he got to. Says he got to stay. Says for 
me to tell you/' 

"How'll he eat?" she demanded. 

"I don' know.. Says he'll catch fish." 

Ma was silent a long time. "Family's fallin' apart," she said. 
"I don' know. Seems like I can't think no more. I jus' can't 
think. They's too much." 

Tom said lamely, "He'll be awright, Ma. He's a funny kind 
a fella." 

Ma turned stunned eyes toward the river. "I jus' can't 
seem to think no more." 



The Grapes of Wrath 295 

Tom looked down the line of tents and he saw Ruthie and 
Winfield standing in front of a tent in decorous conversation 
with someone inside. Ruthie was twisting her skirt in her 
hands, while Winfield dug a hole in the ground with his toe. 
Tom called, "You, Ruthie!" She looked up and saw him and 
trotted toward him, with Winfield behind her. When she 
came up, Tom said, "You go get our folks. They're sleepin' 
down the willows. Get 'em. An' you, WinfieP. You tell the 
Wilsons we're gonna get rollin' soon as we can." The chil- 
dren spun around and charged off. 

Tom said, "Ma, how's Granma now?" 

"Well, she got a sleep today. Maybe she's better. She's 
still a-sleepin'." 

"Tha's good. How much pork we got?" 

"Not very much. Quarter hog." 

"Well, we got to fill that other kag with water. Got to 
take water along." They could hear Ruthie's shrill cries for 
the men down in the willows. 

Ma shoved willow sticks into the fire and made it crackle 
up about the black pot. She said, "I pray God we gonna get 
some res'. I pray Jesus we gonna lay down in a nice place." 

The sun sank toward the baked and broken hills to the 
west. The pot over the fire bubbled furiously. Ma went 
under the tarpaulin and came out with an apronful of pota- 
toes, and she dropped them into the boiling water. "I pray 
God we gonna be let to wash some clothes. We ain't never 
been dirty Me this. Don't even wash potatoes 'fore we boil 
'em. I wonder why? Seems like the heart's * took out of 



us." 



The men came troopihg up from the willows, and their 
eyes were full of sleep, and their faces were red and puffed 
with daytime sleep. 



296 The Grapes of Wrath 

Pa said, "What's a matter?" 

"We're goin'," said Tom. "Cop says we got to go. Might's 
well get her over. Get a good start an' maybe we'll be 
through her. Near three hunderd miles where we're goinV 

Pa said, "I thought we was gonna get a rest." 

"Well, we ain't. We got to go. Pa," Tom said, "Noah 
ain't a-goin'. He walked on down the river." 

"Ain't goin'? What the hell's the matter with him?" And 
then Pa caught himself. "My fault," he said miserably. "That 
boy's all my fault." 

"No." 

"I don't wanta talk about it no more," said Pa. "I can't 
my fault." 

"Well, we got to go," said Tom. 

Wilson walked near for the last words. "We can't go, 
folks," he said. "Sairy's done up. She got to res'. She ain't 
gonna git acrost that desert alive." 

They were silent at his words; then Tom said, "Cop says 
he'll run us in if we're here tomorra." 

Wilson shook his head. His eyes were glazed with worry, 
and a paleness showed through his dark skin. "Jus' hafta do 
'er, then. Sairy can't go. If they jail us, why, they'll hafta 
jail us. She got to res' an' get strong." 

Pa said, "Maybe we better wait an' all go together." 

"No," Wilson said. "You been nice to us; you been kin', 
but you can't stay here. You got to get on an' get jobs and 
work. We ain't gonna let you stay." 

Pa said excitedly, "But you ain't got nothing." 

Wilson smiled. "Never had nothin' when you took us up. 
This ain't none of your business. Don't you make me git 
mean. You got to go, or I'll get mean an' mad." 



The Grapes of Wrath 297 

Ma beckoned Pa into the cover of the tarpaulin and spoke 
softly to him. 

Wilson turned to Casy. "Sairy wants you should go see 
her." 

"Sure," said the preacher. He walked to the Wilson tent, 
tiny and gray, and he slipped the flaps aside and entered. It 
was dusky and hot inside. The mattress lay on the ground, 
and the equipment was scattered about, as it had been un- 
loaded in the morning. Sairy lay on the mattress, her eyes 
wide and bright. He stood and looked down at her, his large 
head bent and the stringy muscles of his neck tight along the 
sides. And he took off his hat and held it in his hand. 

She said, "Did my man tell ya we couldn' go on?" 

"Tha's what he said." 

Her low, beautiful voice went on, "I wanted us to go. I 
knowed I wouldn' live to the other side, but he'd be acrost 
anyways. But he won't go. He don' know. He thinks it's 
gonna be all right. He don' know." 

"He says he won't go." 

"I know," she said. "An' he's stubborn. I ast you to come 
to say a prayer." 

"I ain't a preacher," he said softly. "My prayers ain't no 
good." 

She moistened her lips. "I was there when the oF man died. 
You said one then." 

"It wasn't no prayer." 

"It was a prayer," she said. 

"It wasn't no preacher's prayer." 

"It was a good prayer. I want you should say one for me." 

"I don' know what to say." 

She closed her eyes for a minute and then opened them 



298 The Grapes of Wrath 

again. "Then say one to yourself. Don't use no words to it. 

That'd be awright." 

"I got no God," he said. 

"You got a God. Don't make no difference if you don' 
know what he looks like." The preacher bowed his head. She 
watched him apprehensively. And when he raised his head 
again she looked relieved. "That's good," she said. "That's 
what I needed. Somebody close enough to pray." 

He shook his head as though to awaken himself. "I don' 
understan' this here," he said. 

And she replied, "Yes you know, don't you?" 

"I know," he said, "I know, but I don't understan'. Maybe 
you'll res' a few days an' then come on." 

She shook her head slowly from side to side. "I'm jus' pain 
covered with skin. I know what it is, but I won't tell him. 
He'd be too sad. He wouldn' know what to do anyways. 
Maybe in the night, when he's a-sleepin' when he waked up, 
it won't be so bad." 

"You want I should stay with you an' not go on?" 

"No," she said. "No. When I was a little girl I use' ta sing. 
Folks roun' about use' ta say I sung as nice as Jenny Lind. 
Folks use' ta come an' listen when I sung. An' when they 
stood an' me a-singin', why, me an' them was together 
more'n you could ever know. I was thankful. There ain't so 
many folks can feel so full up, so close, an' them folks standin' 
there an' me a-singin'. Thought maybe I'd sing in theaters, 
but I never done it. An' I'm glad. They wasn't nothin' got 
in between me an' them. An' that's why I wanted you to 
pray. I wanted to feel that clostness, oncet more. It's the same 
thing, singin' an' prayin', jus' the same thing. I wisht you 
could a-heerd me sing." 

He looked down at her, into her eyes. "Good-by," he said. 



The Grapes of Wrath 299 

She shook her head slowly back and forth and closed her 
lips tight. And the preacher went out of the dusky tent into 
the blinding light. 

The men were loading up the truck, Uncle John on top, 
while the others passed equipment up to him. He stowed it 
carefully, keeping the surface level. Ma emptied the quarter 
of a keg of salt pork into a pan, and Tom and Al took both 
little barrels to the river and washed them. They tied them to 
the running boards and carried water in buckets to fill them. 
Then over the tops they tied canvas to keep them from slop- 
ping the water out. Only the tarpaulin and Granma's mat- 
tress were left to be put on. 

Tom said, "With the load we'll take, this oP wagon'll boil 
her head off. We got to have plenty water." 

Ma passed the boiled potatoes out and brought the half 
sack from the tent and put it with the pan of pork. The 
family ate standing, shuffling their feet and tossing the hot 
potatoes from hand to hand until they cooled. 

Ma went to the Wilson tent and stayed for ten minutes, 
and then she came out quietly. "It's time to go," she said. 

The men went under the tarpaulin. Granma still slept, her 
mouth wide open. They lifted the whole mattress gently and 
passed it up on top of the truck. Granma drew up her skinny 
legs and frowned in her sleep, but she did not awaken. 

Uncle John and Pa tied the tarpaulin over the cross-piece, 
making a little tight tent on top of the load. They lashed it 
down to the side-bars. And then they were ready. Pa took 
out his purse and dug two crushed bills from it. He went to 
Wilson and held them out. "We want you should take this, 
an' "he pointed to the pork and potatoes "an' that." 

Wilson hung his head and shook it sharply. "I ain't 
a-gonna do it," he said. "You ain't got much." 



300 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Got enough to get there," said Pa. "We ain't left it all. 
We'll have work right off." 

"I ain't a-gonna do it," Wilson said. "I'll git mean if you 
try." 

Ma took the two bills from Pa's hand. She folded them 
neatly and put them on the ground and placed the pork pan 
over them. "That's where they'll be," she said. "If you don' 
get 'em, somebody else will." Wilson, his head still down, 
turned and went to his tent; he stepped inside and the flaps 
fell behind him. 

For a few moments the family waited, and then, "We got 
to go," said Tom. "It's near four, I bet." 

The family climbed on the truck, Ma on top, beside 
Granma. Tom and Al and Pa in the seat, and Winfield on 
Pa's lap. Connie and Rose of Sharon made a nest against the 
cab. The preacher and Uncle John and Ruthie were in a 
tangle on the load. 

Pa called, "Good-by, Mister and Mis' Wilson." There 
was no answer from the tent. Tom started the engine and the 
truck lumbered away. And as they crawled up the rough 
road toward Needles and the highway, Ma looked back. Wil- 
son stood in front of his tent, staring after them, and his hat 
was in his hand. The sun fell full on his face. Ma waved her 
hand at him, but he did not respond. 

Tom kept the truck in second gear over the rough road, 
to protect the springs. At Needles he drove into a service 
station, checked the worn tires for air, checked the spares 
tied to the back. He had the gas tank filled, and he bought 
two five-gallon cans of gasoline and a two-gallon can of oil. 
He filled the radiator, begged a map, and studied it. 

The service-station boy, in his white uniform, seemed un- 



The Grapes of Wrath 301 

easy until the bill was paid. He said, "You people sure have 
got nerve." 

Tom looked up from the map. "What you mean?" 

"Well, crossin' in a jalopy like this." 

"You been acrost?" 

"Sure, plenty, but not in no wreck like this." 

Tom said, "If we broke down maybe somebody'd give us 
a ban'." 

"Well, maybe. But folks are kind of scared to stop at night. 
I'd hate to be doing it. Takes more nerve than Fve got." 

Tom grinned. "It don't take no nerve to do somepin when 
there ain't nothin' else you can do. Well, thanks. We'll drag 
on." And he got in the truck and moved away. 

The boy in white went into the iron building where his 
helper labored over a book of bills. "Jesus, what a hard-look- 
ing outfit!" 

"Them Okies? They're all hard-lookin'." 

"Jesus, I'd hate to start out in a jalopy like that." 

"Well, you and me got sense. Them goddamn 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." 

"Just the same I'm glad I ain't crossing the desert in no 
Hudson Super-Six. She sounds like a threshing machine." 

The other boy looked down at his book of bills. And a big 
drop of sweat rolled down his finger and fell on the pink 
bills. "You know, they don't have much trouble. They're so 
goddarnn dumb they don't know it's dangerous. And, Christ 
Almighty, they don't know any better than what they got. 
Why worry?" 



302 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I'm not worrying. Just thought if it was me, I wouldn't 
like it." 

"That's 'cause you know better. They don't know any bet- 
ter." And he wiped the sweat from the pink bill with his 
sleeve. 

The truck took the road and moved up the long hill, 
through the broken, rotten rock. The engine boiled very 
soon and Tom slowed down and took it easy. Up the long 
slope, winding and twisting through dead country, burned 
white and gray, and no hint of life in it. Once Tom stopped 
for a few moments to let the engine cool, and then he trav- 
eled on. They topped the pass while the sun was still up, and 
looked down on the desert black cinder mountains in the 
distance, and the yellow sun reflected on the gray desert. 
The little starved bushes, sage and greasewood, threw bold 
shadows on the sand and bits of rock. The glaring sun was 
straight ahead. Tom held his hand before his eyes to see at 
all. They passed the crest and coasted down to cool the 
engine. They coasted down the long sweep to the floor of 
the desert, and the fan turned over to cool the water in the 
radiator. In the driver's seat, Tom and Al and Pa, and 
Winfield on Pa's knee, looked into the bright descending* 
sun, and their eyes were stony, and their brown faces were 
damp with perspiration. The burnt land and the black, 
cindery hills broke the even distance and made it terrible in 
the reddening light of the setting sun. 

Al said, "Jesus, what a place. How'd you like to walk 
acrosthcr?" 

"People done it," said Tom. "Lots a people done it; an' if 
they could, we could." 

"Lots must a died," said Al. 



The Grapes of Wrath 303 

"Well, we ain't come out exac'ly clean." 

Al was silent for a while, and the reddening desert swept 
past. "Think we'll ever see them Wilsons again?" Al asked. 

Tom flicked his eyes down to the oil gauge. "I got a hunch 
nobody ain't gonna see Mis' Wilson for long. Jus' a hunch I 
got." 

Winfield said, "Pa, I wanta get out." 

Tom looked over at him. "Might's well let ever'body out 
'fore we settle down to drivin' tonight." He slowed the car 
and brought it to a stop. Winfield scrambled out and urinated 
at the side of the road. Tom leaned out. "Anybody else?" 

"We're holdin' our water up here," Uncle John called. 

Pa said, "Winfiel', you crawl up on top. You put my legs 
to sleep a-settin' on 'em." The little boy buttoned his over- 
alls and obediently crawled up the back board and on his 
hands and knees crawled over Granma's mattress and for- 
ward to Ruthie. 

The truck moved on into the evening, and the edge of the 
sun struck the rough horizon and turned the desert red. 

Ruthie said, "Wouldn' leave you set up there, huh?" 

"I didn' want to. It wasn't so nice as here. Couldn' lie 
down." 

"Well, don' you bother me, a-squawkin' an' a-talkin'," 
Ruthie said, " 'cause I'm goin' to sleep, an' when I wake up, 
we gonna be there! 'Cause Tom said so! Gonna seem funny 
to see pretty country." 

The sun went down and left a great halo in the sky. And it 
grew very dark under the tarpaulin, a long cave with light 
at each end a flat triangle of light. 

Connie and Rose of Sharon leaned back against the cab, 
and the hot wind tumbling through the tent struck the backs 
of their heads, and the tarpaulin whipped and drummed 



304 The Grapes of Wrath 

above them. They spoke together in low tones, pitched to 
the drumming canvas, so that no one could hear them. When 
Connie spoke he turned his head and spoke into her ear, and 
she did the same to him. She said, "Seems like we wasn't 
never gonna do nothin' but move. I'm so tar'd." 

He turned his head to her ear. "Maybe in the mornin'. 
How'd you like to be alone now?" In the dusk his hand 
moved out and stroked her hip. 

She said, "Don't. You'll make me crazy as a loon. Don't do 
that." And she turned her head to hear his response. 

"Maybe when ever'body's asleep." 

"Maybe," she said. "But wait till they get to sleep. You'll 
make me crazy, an' maybe they won't get to sleep." 

"I can't hardly stop," he said. 

"I know. Me neither. Le's talk about when we get there; 
an' you move away 'fore I get crazy." 

He shifted away a little. "Well, I'll get to studyin' nights 
right off," he said. She sighed deeply. "Gonna get one a 
them books that tells about it an' cut the coupon, right off." 

"How long, you think?" she asked. 

"How long what?" 

"How long 'fore you'll be makin' big money an' we got 
ice?" 

"Can't tell," he said importantly. "Can't really rightly tell. 
Fella oughta be studied up pretty good 'fore Christmus." 

"Soon's you get studied up we could get ice an' stuff, I 
guess." 

He chuckled. "It's this here heat," he said. "What you 
gonna need ice roun' Christmus for?" 

She giggled. "Tha's right. But I'd like ice any time. Now 
don't. You'll get me crazy!" 

The dusk passed into dark and the desert stars came out in 



The Grapes of Wrath 305 

the soft sky, stars stabbing and sharp, with few points and 
rays to them, and the sky was velvet. And the heat changed. 
While the sun was up, it was a beating, flailing heat, but now 
the heat came from below, from the earth itself, and the heat 
was thick and muffling. The lights of the truck came on, and 
they illuminated a little blur of highway ahead, and a strip 
of desert on either side of the road. And sometimes eyes 
gleamed in the lights far ahead, but no animal showed in the 
lights. It was pitch dark under the canvas now. Uncle John 
and the preacher were curled in the middle of the truck, rest- 
ing on their elbows, and staring out the back triangle. They 
could see the two bumps that were Ma and Granma against 
the outside. They could see Ma move occasionally, and her 
dark arm moving against the outside. 

Uncle John talked to the preacher. "Casy," he said, 
"you're a fella oughta know what to do.'* 

"What to do about what?" 

"I dunno," said Uncle John. 

Casy said, "Well, that's gonna make it easy for me!" 

"Well, you been a preacher." 

"Look, John, ever'body takes a crack at me 'cause I been 
a preacher. A preacher ain't nothin' but a man." 

"Yeah, but he's a kind of a man, else he wouldn' be a 
preacher. I wanna ast you well, you think a fella could bring 
bad luck to folks?" 

"I dunno," said Casy. "I dunno." 

"Well see I was married fine, good girl. An' one night 
she got a pain in her stomach. An' she says, 'You better get 
a doctor.' An' I says, 'Hell, you jus' et too much.' " Uncle 
John put his hand on Casy's knee and he peered through the 
darkness at him. "She give me a look. An' she groaned all 
night, an' she died the next afternoon." The preacher mum- 



306 The Grapes of Wrath 

bled something. "You see," John went on, "I kil't her. An' 
sence then I tried to make it up mos'ly to kids. An' I tried 
to be good, an' I can't. I get drunk, an' I go wild." 

"Everybody goes wild," said Casy. "I do too." 

"Yeah, but you ain't got a sin on your soul like me." 

Casy said gently, "Sure I got sins. Ever'body got sins. A 
sin is somepin you ain't sure about. Them people that's sure 
about ever'thing an' ain't got no sin well, with that kind a 
son-of-a-bitch, if I was God I'd kick their ass right outa 
heaven! I couldn' stand 'em!" 

Uncle John said, "I got a feelin' I'm bringin' bad luck to 
my own folks. I got a feelin' I oughta go away an' let 'em be. 
I ain't comf table bein' like this." 

Casy said quickly, "I know this a man got to do what he 
got to do. I can't tell you. I can't tell you. I don't think 
they's luck or bad luck. On'y one thing in this worl' I'm sure 
of, an' that's I'm sure nobody got a right to mess with a 
fella's life. He got to do it all hisself. Help him, maybe, but 
not tell him what to do." 

Uncle John said disappointedly, "Then you don' know?" 

"I don' know." 

"You think it was a sin to let my wife die like that?" 

"Well," said Casy, "for anybody else it was a mistake, but 
if you think it was a sin then it's a sin. A fella builds his own 
sins right up from the groun'." 

"I got to give that a goin'-over," said Uncle John, and he 
rolled on his back and lay with his knees pulled up. 

The truck moved on over the hot earth, and the hours 
passed. Ruthie and Winfield went to sleep. Connie loosened 
a blanket from the load and covered himself and Rose of 
Sharon with it, and in the heat they struggled together, and 
held their breaths. And after a time Connie threw off the 



The Grapes of Wrath 307 

blanket and the hot tunneling wind felt cool on their wet 
bodies. 

On the back of the truck Ma lay on the mattress beside 
Granma, and she could not see with her eyes, but she could 
feel the struggling body and the struggling heart; and the 
sobbing breath was in her ear. And Ma said over and over, 
"All right. It's gonna be all right." And she said hoarsely, 
"You know the family got to get acrost. You know that." 

Uncle John called, "You all right?" 

It was a moment before she answered. "All right. Guess I 
dropped off to sleep." And after a time Granma was still, 
and Ma lay rigid beside her. 

The night hours passed, and the dark was in against the 
truck. Sometimes cars passed them, going west and away; 
and sometimes great trucks came up out of the west and 
rumbled eastward. And the stars flowed down in a slow cas- 
cade over the western horizon. It was near midnight when 
they neared Daggett, where the inspection"" station is. The 
road was floodlighted there, and a sign illuminated, "KEEP 
RIGHT AND STOP." The officers loafed in the office, but 
they came out and stood under the long covered shed when 
Torn pulled in. One officer put down the license number 
and raised the hood. 

Tom asked, "What's this here?" 

"Agricultural inspection. We got to look over your stuff. 
Got any vegetables or seeds? " 

"No," said Tom. 

"Well, we got to look over your stuff. You got to unload." 

Now Ma climbed heavily down from the truck. Her face 
was swollen and her eyes were hard. "Look, mister. We got 
a sick oP lady. We got to get her to a doctor. We can't wait." 
She seemed to fight with hysteria. "You can't make us wait." 



308 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Yeah? Well, we got to look you over." 

"I swear we ain't got any thing!" Ma cried. "I swear it. 
An' Granma's awful sick." 

"You don't look so good yourself," the officer said. 

Ma pulled herself up the back of the truck, hoisted herself 
with huge strength. "Look," she said. 

The officer shot a flashlight beam up on the old shrunken 
face. "By God, she is," he said. "You swear you got no seeds 
or fruits or vegetables, no corn, no oranges?" 

"No, no. I swear it!" 

"Then go ahead. You can get a doctor in Barstow. That's 
only eight miles. Go on ahead." 

Tom climbed in and drove on. 

The officer turned to his companion. "I couldn' hold 'em." 

"Maybe it was a bluff," said the other. 

"Oh, Jesus, no! You should of seen that ol' woman's face. 
That wasn't no bluff." 

Tom increased his speed to Barstow, and in the little town 
he stopped, got out, and walked around the truck. Ma 
leaned out. "It's awright," she said. "I didn' wanta stop there, 
fear we wouldn' get acrost." 

"Yeah! But how's Granma?" 

"She's awright awright. Drive on. We got to get acrost." 
Tom shook his head and walked back. 

"Al," he said, "I'm gonna fill her up, an' then you drive 
some." He pulled to an all-night gas station and filled the 
tank and the radiator, and filled the crank case. Then Al 
slipped under the wheel and Tom took the outside, with Pa 
in the middle. They drove away into the darkness and the 
little hills near Barstow were behind them. 

Tom said, "I don' know what's got into Ma. She's flighty 
as a dog with a flea in his ear. Wouldn' a took long to look 



The Grapes of Wrath 309 

over the stuff. An' she says Granma's sick; an' now she says 
Granma's awright. I can't figger her out. She ain't right. 
S'pose she wore her brains out on the trip." 

Pa said, "Ma's almost like she was when she was a girl. She 
was a wild one then. She wasn' scairt of nothin'. I thought 
havin' all the kids an' workin' took it out a her, but I guess 
it ain't. Christ! When she got that jack handle back there, 
I tell you I wouldn' wanna be the fella took it away from 
her." 

"I dunno what's got into her," Tom said. "Maybe she's jus' 
tar'd out." 

Al said, "I won't be doin' no weepin' an' a-moanin' to get 
through. I got this goddamn car on my soul." 

Tom said, "Well, you done a damn good job a pickin'. We 
ain't had hardly no trouble with her at all." 

All night they bored through the hot darkness, and jack- 
rabbits scuttled into the lights and dashed away in long jolt- 
ing leaps. And the dawn came up behind them when the 
lights of Mojave were ahead. And the dawn showed high 
mountains to the west. They filled with water and oil at 
Mojave and crawled into the mountains, and the dawn was 
about them. 

Tom said, "Jesus, the desert's past! Pa, Al, for Christ 
sakes! The desert's past!" 

"I'm too goddamn tired to care," said Al. 

"Want me to drive?" 

"No, wait awhile." 

They drove through Tehachapi in the morning glow, and 
the sun came up behind them, and then suddenly they saw 
the great valley below them. Al jammed on the brake and 
stopped in the middle of the road, and, "Jesus Christ! Look!" 
he said. The vineyards, the orchards, the great flat valley, 



310 The Grapes of Wrath 

green and beautiful, the trees set in rows, and the farm 
houses. 

And Pa said, "God Almighty!" The distant cities, the little 
towns in the orchard land, and the morning sun, golden on 
the valley. A car honked behind them. Al pulled to the side 
of the road and parked. 

"I want ta look at her." The grain fields golden in the 
morning, and the willow lines, the eucalyptus trees in rows. 

Pa sighed, "I never knowed they was anything like her." 
The peach trees and the walnut groves, and the dark green 
patches of oranges. And red roofs among the trees, and barns 
rich barns. Al got out and stretched his legs. 

He called, "Ma-come look. We're there!" 

Ruthie and Winfield scrambled down from the car, and 
then they stood, silent and awestruck, embarrassed before 
the great valley. The distance was thinned with haze, and the 
land grew softer and softer in the distance. A windmill 
flashed in the sun, and its turning blades were like a little 
heliograph, far away. Ruthie and Winfield looked at it, and 
Ruthie whispered, "It's California." 

Winfield moved his lips silently over the syllables. 
"There's fruit," he said aloud. 

Casy and Uncle John, Connie and Rose of Sharon climbed 
down. And they stood silently. Rose of Sharon had started 
to brush her hair back, when she caught sight of the valley 
and her hand dropped slowly to her side. 

Tom said, "Where's Ma? I want Ma to see it. Look, Ma! 
Come here, Ma." Ma was climbing slowly, stiffly, down the 
back board. Tom looked at her. "My God, Ma, you sick?" 
Her face was stiff and putty-like, and her eyes seemed to 
have sunk deep into her head, and the rims were red with 



The Grapes of Wrath 3 1 1 

weariness. Her feet touched the ground and she braced her- 
self by holding the truck-side. 

Her voice was a croak. "Ya say we're acrost?" 

Tom pointed to the great valley. "Look!" 

She turned her head, and her mouth opened a little. Her 
fingers went to her throat and gathered a little pinch of skin 
and twisted gently. "Thank God!" she said. "The fambly's 
here." Her knees buckled and she sat down on the running 
board. 

"You sick, Ma?" 

"No, jus' tar'd." 

"Didn' you get no sleep?'* 

"No." 

"WasGranmabad?" 

Ma looked down at her hands, lying together like tired 
lovers in her lap. "I wisht I could wait an' not tell you. I 
wisht it could be all nice." 

Pa said, "Then Granma's bad." 

Ma raised her eyes and looked over the valley. "Granma's 
dead." 

They looked at her, all of them, and Pa asked, "When?" 

"Before they stopped us las' night." 

"So that's why you didn' want 'em to look." 

"I was afraid we wouldn' get acrost," she said. "I tol' 
Granma we couldn' he'p her. The fambly had ta get acrost. 
I tol' her, tol' her when she was a-dyin'. We couldn' stop in 
the desert. There was the young ones an' Rosasharn's baby. 
I tol' her." She put up her hands and covered her face for a 
moment. "She can get buried in a nice green place," Ma said 
softly. "Trees aroun' an' a nice place. She got to lay her head 
down in California." 



3 1 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

The family looked at Ma with a little terror at her 
strength. 

Tom said, "Jesus Christ! You layin' there with her all 
night long!" 

"The fambly hadda get acrost," Ma said miserably. 

Tom moved close to put his hand on her shoulder. 

"Don' touch me," she said. "I'll hoi' up if you don' touch 
me. That'd get me." 

Pa said, "We got to go on now. We got to go on down." 

Ma looked up at him. "Can can I set up front? I don' 
wanna go back there no more I'm tar'd. I'm awful tar'd." 

They climbed back on the load, and they avoided the long 
stiff figure covered and tucked in a comforter, even the head 
covered and tucked. They moved to their places and tried 
to keep their eyes from it from the hump on the comfort 
that would be the nose, and the steep cliff that would be the 
jut of the chin. They tried to keep their eyes away, apd they 
could not. Ruthie and Winfield, crowded in a forward cor- 
ner as far away from the body as they could get, stared at 
the tucked figure. 

And Ruthie whispered, "Tha's Granma, an' she's dead." 

Winfield nodded solemnly. "She ain't breathin' at all. She's 
awful dead." 

And Rose of Sharon said softly to Connie, "She was a- 
dyin' right when we " 

"How'd we know?" he reassured her. 

Al climbed on the load to make room for Ma in the seat. 
And Al swaggered a little because he was sorry. He plumped 
down beside Casy and Uncle John. "Well, she was oP. Guess 
her time was up," Al said. "Ever'body got to die." Casy and 
Uncle John turned eyes expressionlessly on him and looked 
at him as though he were a curious talking bush. "Well, 



The Grapes of Wrath 313 

ain't they?" he demanded. And the eyes looked away, leav- 
ing Al sullen and shaken. 

Casy said in wonder, "All night long, an' she was alone." 
And he said, "John, there's a woman so great with love she 
scares me. Makes me afraid an' mean." 

John asked, "Was it a sin? Is they any part of it you might 
call a sin?" 

Casy turned on him in astonishment, "A sin? No, there 
ain't no part of it that's a sin." 

"I ain't never done nothin' that wasn't part sin," said John, 
and he looked at the long wrapped body. 

Tom and Ma and Pa got into the front seat. Tom let the 
truck roll and started on compression. And the heavy truck 
moved, snorting and jerking and popping down the hill. The 
sun was behind them, and the valley golden and green before 
them. Ma shook her head slowly from side to side. "It's 
purty," she said. "I wisht they could of saw it." 

"I wisht so too," said Pa. 

Tom patted the steering wheel under his hand. "They was 
too old," he said. "They wouldn't of saw nothin' that's here. 
Grampa would a been a-seein' the Injuns an' the prairie coun- 
try when he was a young fella. An' Granma would a remem- 
bered an' seen the first home she lived in. They was too oP. 
Who's really seein' it is Ruthie an' WinfieP." 

Pa said, "Here's Tommy talkin' like a growed-up man, 
talkin' like a preacher almos'." 

And Ma smiled sadly. "He is. Tommy's growed way up 
way up so I can't get aholt of 'im sometimes." 

They popped down the mountain, twisting and looping, 
losing the valley sometimes, and then finding it again. And 
the hot breath of the valley came up to them, with hot green 
smells on it, and with resinous sage and tarweed smells. The 



314 The Grapes of Wrath 

crickets crackled along the road. A rattlesnake crawled 

across the road and Tom hit it and broke it and left it 

squirming. 

Tom said, "I guess we got to go to the coroner, wherever 
he is. We got to get her buried decent. How much money 
might be lef, Pa?" 

" 'Bout forty dollars," said Pa. 

Tom laughed. "Jesus, are we gonna start clean! We sure 
ain't bringin' nothin' with us." He chuckled a moment, and 
then his face straightened quickly. He pulled the visor of 
his cap down low over his eyes. And the truck rolled down 
the mountain into the great valley. 



Chapter Nineteen 

ONCE California belonged to Mexico and its land to 
Mexicans; and a horde of tattered feverish Ameri- 
cans poured in. And such was their hunger for land 
that they took the land stole Sutter's land, Guerrero's land, 
took the grants and broke them up and growled and quar- 
reled over them, those frantic hungry men; and they guarded 
with guns the land they had stolen. They put up houses and 
barns, they turned the earth and planted crops. And these 
things were possession, and possession was ownership. 

The Mexicans were weak and fed. They could not resist, 
because they wanted nothing in the world as frantically as 
the Americans wanted land. 

Then, with time, the squatters were no longer squatters, 
but owners; and their children grew up and had children on 
the land. And the hunger was gone from them, the feral hun- 
ger, the gnawing, tearing hunger for land, for water and 
earth and the good sky over it, for the green thrusting grass, 
for the swelling roots. They had these things so completely 
that they did not know about them any more. They had no 
more the stomach-tearing lust for a rich acre and a shining 
blade to plow it, for seed and a windmill beating its wings 
in the air. They arose in the dark no more to hear the sleepy 
birds' first chittering, and the morning wind around the 
house while they waited for the first light to go out to the 
dear acres. These things were lost, and crops were reckoned 

315 



316 The Grapes of Wrath 

in dollars, and land was valued by principal plus interest, and 
crops were bought and sold before they were planted. Then 
crop failure, drought, and flood were no longer little deaths 
within life, but simple losses of money. And all their love 
was thinned with money, and all their fierceness dribbled 
away in interest until they were no longer farmers at all, but 
little shopkeepers of crops, little manufacturers who must 
sell before they can make. Then those farmers who were 
not good shopkeepers lost their land to good shopkeepers. 
No matter how clever, how loving a man might be with 
earth and growing things, he could not survive if he were 
not also a good shopkeeper. And as time went on, the busi- 
ness men had the farms, and the farms grew larger, but there 
were fewer of them. 

Now farming became industry, and the owners followed 
Rome, although they did not know it. They imported slaves, 
although they did not call them slaves: Chinese, Japanese, 
Mexicans, Filipinos. They live on rice and beans, the business 
men said. They don't need much. They wouldn't know what 
to do with good wages. Why, look how they live. Why, 
look what they eat. And if they get funny deport them. 

And all the time the farms grew larger and the owners 
fewer. And there were pitifully few farmers on the land any 
more. And the imported serfs were beaten and frightened 
and starved until some went home again, and some grew 
fierce and were killed or driven from the country. And the 
farms grew larger and the owners fewer. 

And the crops changed. Fruit trees took the place of 
grain fields, and vegetables to feed the world spread out on 
the bottoms: lettuce, cauliflower, artichokes, potatoes stoop 
crops. A man may stand to use a scythe, a plow, a pitchfork; 
but he must crawl like a bug between the rows of lettuce, he 



The Grapes of Wrath 317 

must bend his back and pull his long bag between the cotton 
rows, he must go on his knees like a penitent across a cauli- 
flower patch. 

And it came about that owners no longer worked on their 
farms. They farmed on paper; and they forgot the land, the 
smell, the feel of it, and remembered only that they owned 
it, remembered only what they gained and lost by it. And 
some of the farms grew so large that one man could not 
even conceive of them any more, so large that it took batter- 
ies of bookkeepers to keep track of interest and gain and loss; 
chemists to test the soil, to replenish; straw bosses to see that 
the stooping men were moving along the rows as swiftly as 
the material of their bodies could stand. Then such a farmer 
really became a storekeeper, and kept a store. He paid the 
men, and sold them food, and took the money back. And 
after a while he did not pay the men at all, and saved book- 
keeping. These farms gave food on credit. A man might 
work and feed himself; and when the work was done, he 
might find that he owed money to the company. And the 
owners not only did not work the farms any more, many of 
them had never seen the farms they owned. 

And then the dispossessed were drawn west from Kansas, 
Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas 
families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Carloads, caravans, 
homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand 
and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They 
streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless restless as 
ants, scurrying to find work to do to lift, to push, to pull, 
to pick, to cut anything, any burden to bear, for food. The 
kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying 
for work, for food, and most of all for land. 

We ain't foreign. Seven generations back Americans, and 



3 1 8 The Grapes of Wrath 

beyond that Irish, Scotch, English, German. One of our folks 
in the Revolution, an' they was lots of our folks in the Civil 
Warboth sides. Americans. 

They were hungry, and they were fierce. And they had 
hoped to find a home, and they found only hatred. Okies 
the owners hated them because the owners knew they were 
soft and the Okies strong, that they were fed and the Okies 
hungry; and perhaps the owners had heard from their grand- 
fathers how easy it is to steal land from a soft man if you 
are fierce and hungry and armed. The owners hated them. 
And in the towns, the storekeepers hated them because they 
had no money to spend. There is no shorter path to a store- 
keeper's contempt, and all his admirations are exactly oppo- 
site. The town men, little bankers, hated Okies because there 
was nothing to gain from them. They had nothing. And the 
laboring people hated Okies because a hungry man must 
work, and if he must work, if he has to work, the wage payer 
automatically gives him less for his work; and then no one 
can get more. 

And the dispossessed, the migrants, flowed into California, 
two hundred and fifty thousand, and three hundred thou- 
sand. Behind them new tractors were going on the land and 
the tenants were being forced off. And new waves were on 
the way, new waves of the dispossessed and the homeless, 
hardened, intent, and dangerous. 

And while the Californians wanted many things, accumu- 
lation, social success, amusement, luxury, and a curious bank- 
ing security, the new barbarians wanted only two things- 
land and food; and to them the two were one. And whereas 
the wants of the Californians were nebulous and undefined, 
the wants of the Okies were beside the roads, lying there to 
be seen and coveted: the good fields with water to be dug 



The Grapes of Wrath 319 

for, the good green fields, earth to crumble experimentally 
in the hand, grass to smell, oaten stalks to chew until the 
sharp sweetness was in the throat. A man might look at a 
fallow field and know, and see in his mind that his own bend- 
ing back and his own straining arms would bring the cab- 
bages into the light, and the golden eating corn, the turnips 
and carrots. 

And a homeless hungry man, driving the roads with his 
wife beside him and his thin children in the back seat, could 
look at the fallow fields which might produce food but not 
profit, and that man could know how a fallow field is a sin 
and the unused land a crime against the thin children. And 
such a man drove along the roads and knew temptation at 
every field, and knew the lust to take these fields and make 
them grow strength for his children and a little comfort for 
his wife. The temptation was before him always. The fields 
goaded him, and the company ditches with good water flow- 
ing were a goad to him. 

And in the south he saw the golden oranges hanging on 
the trees, the little golden oranges on the dark green trees; 
and guards with shotguns patrolling the lines so a man might 
not pick an orange for a thin child, oranges to be dumped 
if the price was low. 

He drove his old car into a town. He scoured the farms 
for work. Where can we sleep the night? 

Well, there's Hooverville on the edge of the river. There's 
a whole raft of Okies there. 

He drove his old car to Hooverville. He never asked again, 
for there was a Hooverville on the edge of every town. 

The rag town lay close to water; and the houses were 
tents, and weed-thatched enclosures, paper houses, a great 
junk pile. The man drove his family in and became a citizen 



320 The Grapes of Wrath 

of Hooverville always they were called Hooverville. The 
man put up his own tent as near to water as he could get; 
or if he had no tent, he went to the city dump and brought 
back cartons and built a house of corrugated paper. And 
when the rains came the house melted and washed away. He 
settled in Hooverville and he scoured the countryside for 
work, and the little money he had went for gasoline to look 
for work. In the evening the men gathered and talked to- 
gether. Squatting on their hams they talked of the land they 
had seen. 

There's thirty thousan' acres, out west of here. Layin' 
there. Jesus, what I could do with that, with five acres of 
that! Why, hell, I'd have ever'thing to eat. 

Notice one thing? They ain't no vegetables nor chickens 
nor pigs at the farms. They raise one thingcotton, say, or 
peaches, or lettuce. 'Mother place'll be all chickens. They 
buy the stuff they could raise in the dooryard. 

Jesus, what I could do with a couple pigs! 

Well, it ain't yourn, an* it ain't gonna be yourn. 

What we gonna do? The kids can't grow up this way. 

In the camps the word would come whispering, There's 
work at Shafter. And the cars would be loaded in the night, 
the highways crowded a gold rush for work. At Shafter 
the people would pile up, five times too many to do the 
work. A gold rush for work. They stole away in the night, 
frantic for work. And along the roads lay the temptations, 
the fields that could bear food. 

That's owned. That ain't our'n. 

Well, maybe we could get a little piece of her. Maybe 
a little piece. Right down there a patch. Jimson weed now. 
Christ, I could git enough potatoes off' n that little patch to 
feed my whole family! 



The Grapes of Wrath 321 

It ain't our'n. It got to have Jimson weeds. 

Now and then a man tried; crept on the land and cleared 
a piece, trying like a thief to steal a little richness from the 
earth. Secret gardens hidden in the weeds. A package of 
carrot seeds and a few turnips. Planted potato skins, crept 
out in the evening secretly to hoe in the stolen earth. 

Leave the weeds around the edge then nobody can see 
what we're a-doin'. Leave some weeds, big tall ones, in the 
middle. 

Secret gardening in the evenings, and water carried in a 
rusty can. 

And then one day a deputy sheriff: Well, what you think 
you're doin'? 

I ain't doin' no harm. 

I had my eye on you. This ain't your land. You're tres- 
passing. 

The land ain't plowed, an' I ain't hurtin' it none. 

You goddamned squatters. Pretty soon you'd think you 
owned it. You'd be sore as hell. Think you owned it. Get 
off now. 

And the little green carrot tops were kicked off and the 
turnip greens trampled. And then the Jimson weed moved 
back in. But the cop was right. A crop raisedwhy, that 
makes ownership. Land hoed and the carrots eaten a man 
might fight for land he's taken food from. Get him off quick! 
He'll think he owns it. He might even die fighting for the 
little plot among the Jimson weeds. 

Did ya see his face when we kicked them turnips out? 
Why, he'd kill a fella soon's he'd look at him. We got to 
keep these here people down or they'll take the country. 
They'll take the country. 

Outlanders, foreigners. 



322 The Grapes of Wrath 

Sure, they talk the same language, but they ain't the same. 
Look how they live. Think any of us folks'd live like that? 
Hell, no! 

In the evenings, squatting and talking. And an excited 
man: Whyn't twenty of us take a piece of Ian'? We got 
guns. Take it an' say, "Put us off if you can." Whyn't we 
do that? 

They'd jus' shoot us like rats. 

Well, which'd you ruther be, dead or here? Under groun* 
or in a house all made of gunny sacks? Which'd you ruther 
for your kids, dead now or dead in two years with what 
they call malnutrition? Know what we et all week? Biled 
nettles an' fried dough! Know where we got the flour for 
the dough? Swep' the floor of a boxcar. 

Talking in the camps, and the deputies, fat-assed men with 
guns slung on fat hips, swaggering through the camps: Give 
'em somepin to think about. Got to keep 'em in line or Christ 
only knows what they'll do! Why, Jesus, they're as dan- 
gerous as niggers in the South! If they ever get together 
there ain't nothin' that'll stop 'em. 

Quote: In Lawrenceville a deputy sheriff evicted a squat- 
ter, and the squatter resisted, making it necessary for the 
officer to use force. The eleven-year-old son of the squatter 
shot and killed the deputy with a .22 rifle. 

Rattlesnakes! Don't take chances with 'em, an' if they 
argue, shoot first. If a kid'll kill a cop, what'll the men do? 
Thing is, get tougher'n they are. Treat 'em rough. Scare 'em. 

What if they won't scare? What if they stand up and take 
it and shoot back? These men were armed when they were 
children. A gun is an extension of themselves. What if they 



The Grapes of Wrath 323 

won't scare? What if some time an army of them marches 
on the land as the Lombards did in Italy, as the Germans did 
on Gaul and the Turks did on Byzantium? They were land- 
hungry, ill-armed hordes too, and the legions could not stop 
them. Slaughter and terror did not stop them. 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 a fear beyond every other. 

In Hooverville the men talking: Grampa took his Ian' 
from the Injuns. 

Now, this ain't right. We're a-talkin' here. This here 
you're talkin' about is stealin'. I ain't no thief. 

No? You stole a bottle of milk from a porch night before 
last. An' you stole some copper wire and sold it for a piece 
of meat. 

Yeah, but the kids was hungry. 

It's stealin', though. 

Know how the Fairfiel' ranch was got? I'll tell ya. It was 
all gov'ment Ian', an' could be took up. Ol' Fairfiel', he went 
into San Francisco to the bars, an' he got him three hunderd 
stew bums. Them bums took up the Ian'. Fairfiel' kep' 'em 
in food an' whisky, an' then when they'd proved the Ian', ol' 
Fairfiel' took it from 'em. He used to say the Ian' cost him 
a pint of rotgut an acre. Would you say that was stealin'? 

Well, it wasn't right, but he never went to jail for it. 

No, he never went to jail for it. An' the fella that put a 
boat in a wagon an' made his report like it was all under 
water 'cause he went in a boat he never went to jail neither. 
An' the fellas that bribed congressmen and the legislatures 
never went to jail neither. 

All over the State, jabbering in the Hoovervilles. 



324 The Grapes of Wrath 

And then the raidsthe swoop of armed deputies on the 
squatters' camps. Get out. Department of Health orders. 
This camp is a menace to health. 

Where we gonna go? 

That's none of our business. We got orders to get you out 
of here. In half an hour we set fire to the camp. 

They's typhoid down the line. You want ta spread it all 
over? 

We got orders to get you out of here. Now get! In half an 
hour we burn the camp. 

In half an hour the smoke of paper houses, of weed- 
thatched huts, rising to the sky, and the people in their cars 
rolling over the highways, looking for another Hooverville. 

And in Kansas and Arkansas, in Oklahoma and Texas and 
New Mexico, the tractors moved in and pushed the tenants 
out. 

Three hundred thousand in California and more coming. 
And in California the roads full of frantic people running 
like ants to pull, to push, to lift, to work. For every manload 
to lift, five pairs of arms extended to lift it; for every stom- 
achful of food available, five mouths open. 

And the great owners, who must lose their land in an up- 
heaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to 
read history and to know the great fact: when property 
accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that com- 
panion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and 
cold they will take by force what they need. And the little 
screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression 
works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great 
owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into 
fewer h&nds, the number of the dispossessed increased, and 



The Grapes of Wrath 325 

every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. 
The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great 
holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of re- 
volt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy 
was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means 
to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt 
went on. 

The tractors which throw men out of work, the belt lines 
which carry loads, the machines which produce, all were 
increased; and more and more families scampered on the 
highways, looking for crumbs from the great holdings, lust- 
ing after the land beside the roads. The great owners formed 
associations for protection and they met to discuss ways to 
intimidate, to kill, to gas. And always they were in fear of a 
principal three hundred thousand if they ever move under 
a leaderthe end. Three hundred thousand, hungry and mis- 
erable; if they ever know themselves, the land will be theirs 
and all the gas, all the rifles in the world won't stop them. 
And the great owners, who had become through their hold- 
ings both more and less than men, ran to their destruction, 
and used every means that in the long run would destroy 
them. Every little means, every violence, every raid on a 
Hooverville, every deputy swaggering through a ragged 
camp put off the day a little and cemented the inevitability 
of the day. 

The men squatted on their hams, sharp-faced men, lean 
from hunger and hard from resisting it, sullen eyes and hard 
jaws. And the rich land was around them. 

D'ja hear about the kid in that fourth tent down? 

No, I jus' come in. 

Well, that kid's been a-cryin' in his sleep an' a-rollin' in 



326 The Grapes of Wrath 

his sleep. Them folks thought he got worms. So they give 
him a blaster, an' he died. It was what they call black-tongue 
the kid had. Comes from not gettin' good things to eat. 

Poor little fella. 

Yeah, but them folks can't bury him. Got to go to the 
county stone orchard. 

Well, hell. 

And hands went into pockets and little coins came out. In 
front of the tent a little heap of silver grew. And the family 
found it there. 

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. 

And the associations of owners knew that some day the 
praying would stop. 

And there's the end. 



Chapter Twenty 



THE family, on top of the load, the children and 
Connie and Rose of Sharon and the preacher were 
stiff and cramped. They had sat in the heat in front 
of the coroner's office in Bakersfield while Pa and Ma and 
Uncle John went in. Then a basket was brought out and the 
long bundle lifted down from the truck. And they sat in the 
sun while the examination went on, while the cause of death 
was found and the certificate signed. 

Al and Tom strolled along the street and looked in store 
windows and watched the strange people on the sidewalks. 

And at last Pa and Ma and Uncle John came out, and they 
were subdued and quiet. Uncle John climbed up on the load. 
Pa and Ma got in the seat. Tom and Al strolled back and 
Tom got under the steering wheel. He sat there silently, 
waiting for some instruction. Pa looked straight ahead, his 
dark hat pulled low. Ma rubbed the sides of her mouth with 
her fingers, and her eyes were far away and lost, dead with 
weariness. 

Pa sighed deeply. "They wasn't nothin 1 else to do," he said. 

"I know," said Ma. "She would a liked a nice funeral, 
though. She always wanted one." 

Tom looked sideways at them. "County?" he asked. 

"Yeah," Pa shook his head quickly, as though to get back 
to some reality. "We didn' have enough. We couldn' of done 

327 



328 The Grapes of Wrath 

it." He turned to Ma. "You ain't to feel bad. We couldn' no 
matter how hard we tried, no matter what we done. We jus' 
didn' have it; embalming, an' a coffin an' a preacher, an' a 
plot in a graveyard. It would of took ten times what we got. 
We done the bes' we could." 

"I know," Ma said. "I jus' can't get it outa my head what 
store she set by a nice funeral. Got to forget it." She sighed 
deeply and rubbed the side of her mouth, "That was a purty 
nice fella in there. Awful bossy, but he was purty nice." 

"Yeah," Pa said. "He give us the straight talk, awright." 

Ma brushed her hair back with her hand. Her jaw tight- 
ened. "We got to git," she said. "We got to find a place to 
stay. We got to get work an' settle down. No use a-lettin' 
the little fellas go hungry. That wasn't never Granma's way. 
She always et a good meal at a funeral." 

"Where we goin'?" Tom asked. 

Pa raised his hat and scratched among his hair. "Camp," 
he said. "We ain't gonna spen' what little's lef till we get 
work. Drive out in the country." 

Tom started the car and they rolled through the streets 
and out toward the country. And by a bridge they saw a col- 
lection of tents and shacks. Tom said, "Might's well stop 
here. Find out what's doin', an' where at the work is." He 
drove down a steep dirt incline and parked on the edge of 
the encampment. 

There was no order in the camp} little gray tents, shacks, 
cars were scattered about at random. The first house was 
nondescript. The south wall was made of three sheets of 
rusty corrugated iron, the east wall a square of moldy carpet 
tacked between two boards, the north wall a strip of roof- 
ing paper and a strip of tattered canvas, and the west wall 
six pieces of gunny sacking. Over the square frame, on un- 



The Grapes of Wrath 329 

trimmed willow limbs, grass had been piled, not thatched, 
but heaped up in a low mound. The entrance, on the gunny- 
sack side, was cluttered with equipment. A five-gallon kero- 
sene can served for a stove. It was laid on its side, with a sec- 
tion of rusty stovepipe thrust in one end. A wash boiler 
rested on its side against the wall; and a collection of boxes 
lay about, boxes to sit on, to eat on. A Model T Ford sedan 
and a two-wheel trailer were parked beside the shack, and 
about the camp there hung a slovenly despair. 

Next to the shack there was a little tent, gray with weath- 
ering, but neatly, properly set up; and the boxes in front of it 
were placed against the tent wall. A stovepipe stuck out of 
the door flap, and the dirt in front of the tent had been swept 
and sprinkled. A bucketful of soaking clothes stood on a box. 
The camp was neat and sturdy. A Model A roadster and a 
little home-made bed trailer stood beside the tent. 

And next there was a huge tent, ragged, torn in strips and 
the tears mended with pieces of wire. The flaps were up, and 
inside four wide mattresses lay on the ground. A clothes line 
strung along the side bore pink cotton dresses and several 
pairs of overalls. There were forty tents and shacks, and 
beside each habitation some kind of automobile. Far down 
the line a few children stood and stared at the newly arrived 
truck, and they moved toward it, little boys in overalls and 
bare feet, their hair gray with dust. 

Tom stopped the truck and looked at Pa. "She ain't very 
purty," he said. "Want to go somewheres else?" 

"Can't go nowheres else till we know where we're at," 
Pa said. "We got to ast about work." 

Tom opened the door and stepped out. The family 
climbed down from the load and looked curiously at the 
camp. Ruthie and Winfield, from the habit of the road, took 



330 The Grapes of Wrath 

down the bucket and walked toward the willows, where 
there would be water; and the line of children parted for 
them and closed after them. 

The flaps of the first shack parted and a woman looked 
out. Her gray hair was braided, and she wore a dirty, flow- 
ered Mother Hubbard. Her face was wizened and dull, deep 
gray pouches under blank eyes, and a mouth slack and loose. 

Pa said, "Can we jus' pull up anywheres an' camp?" 

The head was withdrawn inside the shack. For a moment 
there was quiet and then the flaps were pushed aside and a 
bearded man in shirt sleeves stepped out. The woman looked 
out after him, but she did not come into the open. 

The bearded man said, "Howdy, folks," and his restless 
dark eyes jumped to each member of the family, and from 
them to the truck to the equipment. 

Pa said, "I jus' ast your woman if it's all right to set our 
stuff anywheres." 

The bearded man looked at Pa intently, as though he had 
said something very wise that needed thought. "Set down 
anywheres, here in this place?" he asked. 

"Sure. Anybody own this place, that we got to see 'fore 
we can camp?" 

The bearded man squinted one eye nearly closed and 
studied Pa. "You wanta camp here?" 

Pa's irritation arose. The gray woman peered out of the 
burlap shack. "What you think I'm a-sayin'?" Pa said. 

"Well, if you wanta camp here here, why don't ya? I ain't 
a-stoppin' you." 

Tom laughed. "He got it." 

Pa gathered his temper. "I jus' wanted to know does any- 
body own it? Do we got to pay?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 3 3 1 

The bearded man thrust out his jaw. "Who owns it?" he 
demanded. 

Pa turned away. "The hdl with it," he said. The woman's 
head popped back in the tent. 

The bearded man stepped forward menacingly. "Who 
owns it?" he demanded. "Who's gonna kick us outa here? 
You tell me." 

Tom stepped in front of Pa. "You better go take a good 
long sleep," he said. The bearded man dropped his mouth 
open and put a dirty finger against his lower gums. For a 
moment he continued to look wisely, speculatively at Tom, 
and then he turned on his heel and popped into the shack 
after the gray woman. 

Tom turned on Pa. "What the hell was that?" he asked. 

Pa shrugged his shoulders. He was looking across the 
camp. In front of a tent stood an old Buick, and the head was 
off. A young man was grinding the valves, and as he twisted 
back and forth, back and forth, on the tool, he looked up at 
the Joad truck. They could see that he was laughing to him- 
self. When the bearded man had gone, the young man left 
his work and sauntered over. 

"H'are ya?" he said, and his blue eyes were shiny with 
amusement. "I seen you just met the Mayor," 

"What the hell's the matter with 'im?" Tom demanded. 

The young man chuckled. "He's jus' nuts like you an' me. 
Maybe he's a little nutser'n me, I don' know." 

Pa said, "I jus' ast him if we could camp here." 

The young man wiped his greasy hands on his trousers. 
"Sure. Why not? You folks jus' come acrost?" 

"Yeah," said Tom. "Jus' got in this mornin'." 

"Never been in Hooverville before?" 



332 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Where's Hooverville?" 

"This here's her." 

"Oh!" said Tom. "We jus' got in." 

Winfield and Ruthie came back, carrying a bucket of 
water between them. 

Ma said, "Le's get the camp up. I'm tuckered out. Maybe 
we can all rest." Pa and Uncle John climbed up on the truck 
to unload the canvas and the beds. 

Tom sauntered to the young man, and walked beside him 
back to the car he had been working on. The valve-grinding 
brace lay on the exposed block, and a little yellow can of 
valve-grinding compound was wedged on top of the vacuum 
tank. Tom asked, "What the hell was the matter'th that oP 
fella with the beard?" 

The young man picked up his brace and went to work, 
twisting back and forth, grinding valve against valve seat. 
"The Mayor? Chris' knows. I guess maybe he's bull-simple." 

"What's 'bull-simple'?" 

"I guess cops push 'im aroun' so much he's still spinning." 

Tom asked, "Why would they push a fella like that 
aroun'?" 

The young man stopped his work and looked in Tom's 
eyes. "Chris' knows," he said. "You jus' come. Maybe you 
can figger her out. Some fellas says one thing, an' some says 
another thing. But you jus' camp in one place a little while, 
an' you see how quick a deputy sheriff shoves you along." 
He lifted a valve and smeared compound on the seat. 

"But what the hell for?" 

"I tell ya I don' know. Some says they don' want us to 
vote; keep us movin' so we can't vote. An' some says so we 
can't get on relief. An' some says if we set in one place we'd 



The Grapes of Wrath 333 

get organized. I don' know why. I on'y know we get rode all 
the time. You wait, you'll see." 

"We ain't no bums," Tom insisted. "We're lookin' for 
work. We'll take any kind a work." 

The young man paused in fitting the brace to the valve 
slot. He looked in amazement at Tom. "Lookin' for work?" 
he said. "So you're lookin' for work. What ya think ever'- 
body else is lookin' for? Di'monds? What you think I wore 
my ass down to a nub lookin' for?" He twisted the brace 
back and forth. 

Tom looked about at the grimy tents, the junk equipment, 
at the old cars, the lumpy mattresses out in the sun, at the 
blackened cans on fire-blackened holes where the people 
cooked. He asked quietly, "Ain't they no work?" 

"I don' know. Mus' be. Ain't no crop right here now. 
Grapes to pick later, an' cotton to pick later. We're a-movin' 
on, soon's I get these here valves groun'. Me an' my wife an' 
my kids. We heard they was work up north. We're shovin' 
north, up aroun' Salinas." 

Tom saw Uncle John and Pa and the preacher hoisting the 
tarpaulin on the tent poles and Ma on her knees inside, brush- 
ing off the mattresses on the ground. A circle of quiet chil- 
dren stood to watch the new family get settled, quiet chil- 
dren with bare feet and dirty faces. Tom said, "Back home 
some fellas come through with han'bills orange ones. Says 
they need lots a people out here to work the crops." 

The young man laughed. "They say they's three hunderd 
thousan' us folks here, an' I bet ever' dam' fam'ly seen them 
han'bills." 

"Yeah, but if they don' need folks, what'd they go to the 
trouble puttin' them things out for?" 



334 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Use your head, why don'cha?" 

"Yeah, but I wanta know." 

"Look," the young man said. "S'pose you got a job a work, 
an' there's jus' one fella wants the job. You got to pay 'im 
what he asts. But s'pose they's a hunderd men." He put 
down his tool. His eyes hardened and his voice sharpened. 
"S'pose they's a hunderd men wants that job. S'pose them 
men got kids, an' them kids is hungry. S'pose a lousy dime'll 
buy a box a mush for them kids. S'pose a nickel'll buy at leas' 
somepin for them kids. An' you got a hunderd men. Jus' offer 
'em a nickel why, they'll kill each other fightin' for that 
nickel. Know what they was payin', las' job I had? Fifteen 
cents an hour. Ten hours for a dollar an' a half, an' ya can't 
stay on the place. Got to burn gasoline gettin' there." He 
was panting with anger, and his eyes blazed with hate. 
"That's why them han'bills was out. You can print a hell of 
a lot of han'bills with what ya save payin' fifteen cents an 
hour for fieP work." 

Tom said, "That's stinkin'." 

The young man laughed harshly. "You stay out here a 
little while, an' if you smell any roses, you come let me smell, 
too." 

"But they is work," Tom insisted. "Christ Almighty, with 
all this stuff a-growin': orchards, grapes, vegetables I seen 
it. They got to have men. I seen all that stuff." 

A child cried in the tent beside the car. The young man 
went into the tent and his voice came softly through the 
canvas. Tom picked up the brace, fitted it in the slot of the 
valve, and ground away, his hand whipping back and forth. 
The child's crying stopped. The young man came out and 
watched Tom. "You can do her," he said. "Damn good 
thing. You'll need to." 



The Grapes of Wrath 335 

"How 'bout what I said?" Tom resumed. "I seen all the 
stuff growin'." 

The young man squatted on his heels. "I'll tell ya," he said 
quietly. "They's a big son-of-a-bitch of a peach orchard I 
worked in. Takes nine men all the year rounY' He paused 
impressively. "Takes three thousan' men for two weeks when 
them peaches is ripe. Got to have 'em or them peaches'll rot. 
So what do they do? They send out han'bills all over hell. 
They need three thousan', an' they get six thousan'. They get 
them men for what they wanta pay. If ya don' wanta take 
what they pay, goddamn it, they's a thousan' men waitin' for 
your job. So ya pick, an' ya pick, an' then she's done. Whole 
part a the country's peaches. All ripe together. When ya get 
'em picked, ever' goddamn one is picked. There ain't another 
damn thing in that part a the country to do. An' then them 
owners don' want you there no more. Three thousan' of 
you. The work's done. You might steal, you might get 
drunk, you might jus' raise hell. An' besides, you don' look 
nice, livin' in ol' tents; an' it's a pretty country, but you stink 
it up. They don' want you aroun'. So they kick you out, 
they move you along. That's how it is." 

Tom, looking down toward the Joad tent, saw his mother, 
heavy and slow with weariness, build a little trash fire and 
put the cooking pots over the flame. The circle of children 
drew closer, and the calm wide eyes of the children watched 
every move of Ma's hands. An old, old man with a bent back 
came like a badger out of a tent and snooped near, sniffing 
the air as he came. He laced his arms behind him and joined 
the children to watch Ma. Ruthie and Winfield stood near to 
Ma and eyed the strangers belligerently. 

Tom said angrily, "Them peaches got to be picked right 
now, don't they? Jus' when they're ripe?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 

" 'Course they do." 

"Well, s'pose them people got together an' says, 'Let 'em 
rot,' Wouldn' be long 'fore the price went up, by God!" 

The young man looked up from the valves, looked sar- 
donically at Tom. "Well, you figgered out somepin, didn' 
you. Come right outa your own head." 

"I'm tar'd," said Tom. "Drove all night. I don't wanta start 
no argument. An' I'm so goddamn tar'd I'd argue easy. Don' 
be smart with me. I'm askin' you." 

The young man grinned. "I didn' mean it. You ain't been 
here. Folks figgered that out. An' the folks with the peach 
orchard figgered her out too. Look, if the folks gets to- 
gether, they's a leadergot to befella that does the talkin'. 
Well, first time this fella opens his mouth they grab 'im an' 
stick 'im in jail. An' if they's another leader pops up, why, 
they stick 9 im in jail." 

Tom said, "Well, a fella eats in jail anyways." 

"His kids don't. How'd you like to be in an' your kids 
starvin' to death?" 

"Yeah," said Tom slowly. "Yeah." 

"An' here's another thing. Ever hear a' the blacklist?" 

"What's that?" 

"Well, you jus' open your trap about us folks gettin' to- 
gether, an' you'll see. They take your pitcher an' send it all 
over. Then you can't get work nowhere. An' if you got 
kids " 

Tom took off his cap and twisted it in his hands. "So we 
take what we can get, huh, or we starve; an' if we yelp we 



starve." 



The young man made a sweeping circle with his hand, and 
his hand took in the ragged tents and the rusty cars. 
Tom looked down at his mother again, where she sat 



The Grapes of Wrath 337 

scraping potatoes. And the children had drawn closer. He 
said, "I ain't gonna take it. Goddamn it, I an' my folks ain't 
no sheep. I'll kick the hell outa somebody." 

"Like a cop?'' 

"Like anybody." 

"You're nuts," said the young man. "They'll pick you 
right off. You got no name, no property. They'll find you in 
a ditch, with the blood dried on your mouth an' your nose. 
Be one little line in the paper know what it'll say? 'Vagrant 
foun' dead.' An' that's all. You'll see a lot of them little lines, 
'Vagrant foun' dead.' " 

Tom said, "They'll be somebody else foun' dead right 
'longside of this here vagrant." 

"You're nuts," said the young man. "Won't be no good 
in that." 

"Well, what you doin' about it?" He looked into the 
grease-streaked face. And a veil drew down over the eyes of 
the young man. 

"Nothin'. Where you from?" 

"Us? Right near Sallisaw, Oklahoma." 

"Jus' get in?" 

"Jus' today." 

"Gonna be aroun' here long?" 

"Don't know. We'll stay wherever we can get work. 
Why?" 

"Nothin'." And the veil came down again. 

"Got to sleep up," said Tom. "Tomorra we'll go out 
lookin' for work." 

"You kin try." 

Tom turned away and moved toward the Joad tent. 

The young man took up the can of valve compound and 
dug his finger into it. "Hi!" he called. 



338 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom turned. "What you want?" 

"I want ta tell ya." He motioned with his finger, on which 
a blob of compound stuck. "I jus' want ta tell ya. Don' go 
lookin' for no trouble. 'Member how that bull-simple guy 
looked?" 

"Fella in the tent up there?" 

"Yeah looked dumbno sense?" 

"What about him?" 

"Well, when the cops come in, an' they come in all a time, 
that's how you want ta be. Dumb don't know nothin'. 
Don't understan' nothin'. That's how the cops like us. Don't 
hit no cops. That's jus' suicide. Be bull-simple." 

"Let them goddamn cops run over me, an' me do nothin'?" 

"No, looka here. I'll come for ya tonight. Maybe I'm 
wrong. There's stools arouri' all a time. I'm takin' a chancet, 
an' I got a kid, too. But I'll come for ya. An' if ya see a cop, 
why, you're a goddamn dumb Okie, see?" 

"Tha's awright if we're doin' anythin'," said Tom. 

"Don' you worry. We're doin' somepin, on'y we ain't 
stickin' our necks out. A kid starves quick. Two-three days 
for/a kid." He went back to his job, spread the compound 
on a valve seat, and his hand jerked rapidly back and forth 
on the brace, and his face was dull and dumb. 

Tom strolled slowly back to his camp. "Bull-simple," he 
said under his breath. 

Pa and Uncle John came toward the camp, their arms 
loaded with dry willow sticks, and they threw them down 
by the fire and squatted on their hams. "Got her picked over 
pretty good," said Pa. "Had ta go a long ways for wood." 
He looked up at the circle of staring children. "Lord God 
Almighty!" he said. "Where'd you come from?" All of the 
children looked self-consciously at their feet. 



The Grapes of Wrath 339 

"Guess they smelled the cookin'," said Ma. "WinfieT, get 
out from under foot." She pushed him out of her way. "Got 
ta make us up a little stew," she said. "We ain't et nothin' 
cooked right sence we come from home. Pa, you go up to 
the store there an' get me some neck meat. Make a nice stew 
here." Pa stood up and sauntered away. 

Al had the hood of the car up, and he looked down at the 
greasy engine. He looked up when Tom approached. "You 
sure look happy as a buzzard," Al said. 

"I'm jus' gay as a toad in spring rain," said Tom. 

"Looka the engine," Al pointed. "Purty good, huh?" 

Tom peered in. "Looks awright to me." 

"Awright? Jesus, she's wonderful. She ain't shot no oil 
nor nothin'." He unscrewed a spark plug and stuck his fore- 
finger in the hole. "Crusted up some, but she's dry." 

Tom said, "You done a nice job a pickin'. That what ya 
want me to say?" 

"Well, I sure was scairt the whole way, figgerin' she'd bust 
down an' it'd be my fault." 

"No, you done good. Better get her in shape, 'cause 
tomorra we're goin' out lookin' for work." 

"She'll roll," said Al. "Don't you worry none about that." 
He took out a pocket knife and scraped the points of the 
spark plug. 

Tom walked around the side of the tent, and he found 
Casy sitting on the earth, wisely regarding one bare foot. 
Tom sat down heavily beside him. "Think she's gonna 
work?" 

"What?" asked Casy. 

"Them toes of yourn." 

"Oh! Jus' settin' here a-thinkin'." 

"You always get good an' comf'table for it," said Tom. 



340 The Grapes of Wrath 

Casy waggled his big toe up and his second toe down, and 
he smiled quietly. "Hard enough for a fella to think 'thout 
kinkin' hisself up to do it." 

"Ain't heard a peep outa you for days," said Tom. 
"Thinkin' all the time?" 

"Yeah, thinkin' all the time." 

Tom took off his cloth cap, dirty now, and ruinous, the 
visor pointed as a bird's beak. He turned the sweat band out 
and removed a long strip of folded newspaper. "Sweat so 
much she's shrank," he said. He looked at Casy's waving toes. 
"Could ya come down from your thinkin' an' listen a 
minute?" 

Casy turned his head on the stalk-like neck. "Listen all the 
time. That's why I been thinkin'. Listen to people a-talkin', 
an' purty soon I hear the way folks are feelin'. Goin' on all 
the time. I hear 'em an' feel 'em; an' they're beating their 
wings like a bird in a attic. Gonna bust their wings on a dusty 
winda tryin' ta get out." 

Tom regarded him with widened eyes, and then he turned 
and looked at a gray tent twenty feet away. Washed jeans 
and shirts and a dress hung to dry on the tent guys. He said 
softly, "That was about what I was gonna tell ya. An' you 
seen awready." 

"I seen," Casy agreed. "They's a army of us without no 
harness." He bowed his head and ran his extended hand 
slowly up his forehead and into his hair. "All along I seen it," 
he said. "Ever* place we stopped I seen it. Folks hungry for 
side-meat, an' when they get it, they ain't fed. An' when 
they'd get so hungry they couldn' stan' it no more, why, 
they'd ast me to pray for 'em, an' sometimes I done it." He 
clasped his hands around drawn-up knees and pulled his legs 
in. "I use ta think that'd cut 'er," he said. "Use ta rip off a 



The Grapes of Wrath 341 

prayer an' all the troubles'd stick to that prayer like flies on 
flypaper, an' the prayer'd go a-sailin' off, a-takin' them trou- 
bles along. But it don' work no more." 

Tom said, "Prayer never brought in no side-meat. Takes a 
shoat to bring in pork." 

"Yeah," Casy said. "An' Almighty God never raised no 
wages. These here folks want to live decent and bring up 
their kids decent. An' when they're old they wanta set in the 
door an' watch the downing sun. An' when they're young 
they wanta dance an' sing an' lay together. They wanta eat 
an' get drunk and work. An' that's it they wanta jus' fling 
their goddamn muscles aroun' an' get tired. Christ! What'm 
I talkin' about?" 

"I dunno," said Tom. "Sounds kinda nice. When ya think 
you can get ta work an' quit thinkin' a spell? We got to get 
work. Money's 'bout gone. Pa give five dollars to get a 
painted piece of board stuck up over Granma. We ain't got 
much lef '." 

A lean brown mongrel dog came sniffing around the side 
of the tent. He was nervous and flexed to run. He sniffed 
close before he was aware of the two men, and then looking 
up he saw them, leaped sideways, and fled, ears back, bony 
tail clamped protectively. Casy watched him go, dodging 
around a tent to get out of sight. Casy sighed. "I ain't doin' 
nobody no good," he said. "Me or nobody else. I was thinkin' 
I'd go off alone by myself. I'm a-eatin' your food an' a-takin' 
up room. An' I ain't give you nothin'. Maybe I could get a 
steady job an' maybe pay back some a the stuff you've give 
me." 

Tom opened his mouth and thrust his lower jaw forward, 
and he tapped his lower teeth with a dried piece of mustard 
stalk. His eyes stared over the camp, over the gray tents and 



34 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

the shacks of weed and tin and paper. "Wisht I had a sack a 
Durham," he said. "I ain't had a smoke in a hell of a time. Use 
ta get tobacco in McAlester. Almost wisht I was back." 
He tapped his teeth again and suddenly he turned on the 
preacher. "Ever been in a jail house?" 

"No," said Casy. "Never been." 

"Don't go away right yet," said Tom. "Not right yet." 

"Quicker I get lookin' for work quicker I'm gonna find 
some." 

Tom studied him with half-shut eyes and he put on his cap 
again. "Look," he said, "this ain't no Ian' of milk an' honey 
like the preachers say. They's a mean thing here. The folks 
here is scared of us people comin' west; an' so they got cops 
out tryin' to scare us back." 

"Yeah," said Casy. "I know. What you ask about me bein' 
in jail for?" 

Tom said slowly, "When you're in jail you get to l^inda 
sensin' stuff. Guys ain't let to talk a hell of a lot together- 
two maybe, but not a crowd. An' so you get kinda sensy. If 
somepin's gonna bust if say a fella's goin' stir-bugs an' take 
a crack at a guard with a mop handle why, you know it 
'fore it happens. An' if they's gonna be a break or a riot, 
nobody don't have to tell ya. You're sensy about it. You 
know." 

"Yeah?" 

"Stick aroun'," said Tom. "Stick aroun' till tomorra any- 
ways. Somepin's gonna come up. I was talkin' to a kid up the 
road. An* he's bein' jus' as sneaky an' wise as a dog coyote, 
but he's too wise. Dog coyote a-mindin' his own business an* 
innocent an' sweet, jus* havin' fun an' no harm well, they's a 
hen roost clost by." 

Casy watched him intently, started to ask a question, and 



The Grapes of Wrath 343 

then shut his mouth tightly. He waggled his toes slowly and, 
releasing his knees, pushed out his foot so he could see it. 
"Yeah," he said, "I won't go right yet." 

Tom said, "When a bunch a folks, nice quiet folks, don't 
know nothin' about nothin' somepin's goin' on." 

"I'll stay," said Casy. 

"An' tomorra well go out in the truck an' look for work." 

"Yeah! " said Casy, and he waved his toes up and down and 
studied them gravely. Tom settled back on his elbow and 
closed his eyes. Inside the tent he could hear the murmur of 
Rose of Sharon's voice and Connie's answering. 

The tarpaulin made a dark shadow and the wedge-shaped 
light at each end was hard and sharp. Rose of Sharon lay on 
a mattress and Connie squatted beside her. "I oughta help 
Ma," Rose of Sharon said. "I tried, but ever' time I stirred 
about I throwed up." 

Connie's eyes were sullen. "If I'd of knowed it would be 
like this I wouldn' of came. I'd a studied nights 'bout tractors 
back home an' got me a three-dollar job. Fella can live awful 
nice on three dollars a day, an' go to the pitcher show ever' 
night, too." 

Rose of Sharon looked apprehensive. "You're gonna study 
nights 'bout radios," she said. He was long in answering. 
"Ain't you?" she demanded. 

"Yeah, sure. Soon's I get on my feet. Get a little money." 

She rolled up on her elbow. "You ain't givin' it up!" 

"Nono 'course not. But I didn' know they was places 
like this we got to live in." 

The girl's eyes hardened. "You got to," she said quietly. 

"Sure. Sure, I know. Got to get on my feet. Get a little 
money. Would a been better maybe to stay home an' study 
'bout tractors. Three dollars a day they get, an' pick up extra 



344 The Grapes of Wrath 

money, too." Rose of Sharon's eyes were calculating. When 
he looked down at her he saw in her eyes a measuring of him, 
a calculation of him. "But I'm gonna study," he said. "Soon's 
I get on my feet." 

She said fiercely, "We got to have a house 'fore the baby 
comes. We ain't gonna have this baby in no tent." 

"Sure," he said. "Soon's I get on my feet." He went out of 
the tent and looked down at Ma, crouched over the brush 
fire. Rose of Sharon rolled on her back and stared at the top 
of the tent. And then she put her thumb in her mouth for a 
gag and she cried silently. 

Ma knelt beside the fire, breaking twigs to keep the flame 
up under the stew kettle. The fire flared and dropped and 
flared and dropped. The children, fifteen of them, stood 
silently and watched. And when the smell of the cooking 
stew came to their noses, their noses crinkled slightly. The 
sunlight glistened on hair tawny with dust. The children 
were embarrassed to be there, but they did not go. Ma talked 
quietly to a little girl who stood inside the lusting circle. She 
was older than the rest. She stood on one foot, caressing the 
back of her leg with a bare instep. Her arms were clasped 
behind her. She watched Ma with steady small gray eyes. 
She suggested, "I could break up some bresh if you want me, 



ma'am." 



Ma looked up from her work. "You want ta get ast to 
eat, huh?" 

"Yes, ma'am," the girl said steadily. 

Ma slipped the twigs under the pot and the flame made a 
puttering sound. "Didn' you have no breakfast?" 

"No, ma'am. They ain't no work hereabouts. Pa's in tryin' 
to sell some stuff to git gas so's we can git 'long." 



The Grapes of Wrath 345 

Ma looked up. "Didn' none of these here have no break- 
fast?" 

The circle of children shifted nervously and looked away 
from the boiling kettle. One small boy said boastfully, "I did 
me an' my brother didan' them two did, 'cause I seen 'em. 
We et good. We're a-goin' south tonight." 

Ma smiled. "Then you ain't hungry. They ain't enough 
here to go around." 

The small boy's lip stuck out. "We et good," he said, and 
he turned and ran and dived into a tent. Ma looked after him 
so long that the oldest girl reminded her. 

"The fire's down, ma'am. I can keep it up if you want." 

Ruthie and Winfield stood inside the circle, comporting 
themselves with ^proper frigidity and dignity. They were 
aloof, and at the same time possessive. Ruthie turned cold 
and angry eyes on the little girl. Ruthie squatted down to 
break up the twigs for Ma. 

Ma lifted the kettle lid and stirred the stew with a stick. 
"I'm sure glad some of you ain't hungry. That little fella ain't, 
anyways." 

The girl sneered. "Oh, him! He was a-braggin'. High an' 
mighty. If he don't have no supper know what he done? 
Las' night, come out an' say they got chicken to eat. Well, 
sir, I looked in whilst they was a-eatin' an' it was fried dough 
jus' like ever'body else." 

"Oh!" And Ma looked down toward the tent where the 
small boy had gone. She looked back at the little girl. "How 
long you been in California?" she asked. 

"Oh, 'bout six months. We lived in a gov'ment camp a 
while, an' then we went north, an' when we come back it was 
full up. That's a nice place to live, you bet." 



The Grapes of Wrath 

"Where's that?" Ma asked. And she took the sticks from 
Ruthie's hand and fed the fire. Ruthie glared with hatred at 
the older girl. 

"Over by Weedpatch. Got nice toilets an' baths, an' you 
kin wash clothes in a tub, an' they's water right handy, 
good drinkin' water; an' nights the folks plays music an' 
Sat'dy night they give a dance. Oh, you never seen anything 
so nice. Got a place for kids to play, an' them toilets with 
paper. Pull down a little jigger an' the water comes right in 
the toilet/ an' they ain't no cops let to come look in your tent 
any time they want, an' the fella runs the camp is so polite, 
comes a-visitin' an' talks an' ain't high an' mighty. I wisht we 
could go live there again." 

Ma said, "I never heard about it. I sure could use a wash 
tub, I tell you." 

The girl went on excitedly, "Why, God Awmighty, they 
got hot water right in pipes, an' you get in under a shower 
bath an' it's warm. You never seen such a place." 

Ma said, "All full now, ya say?" 

"Yeah. Las' time we ast it was." 

"Mus' cost a lot," said Ma. 

"Well, it costs, but if you ain't got the money, they let 
you work it out couple hours a week, cleanin' up, an' garb- 
age cans. Stuff like that. An' nights they's music an' folks 
talks together an' hot water right in the pipes. You never seen 
nothin' so nice." 

Ma said, "I sure wisht we could go there." 

Ruthie had stood all she could. She blurted fiercely, 
"Granma died right on top a the truck." The girl looked 
questioningly at her. "Well, she did," Ruthie said. "An' the 
cor'ner got her." She closed her lips tightly and broke up a 
little pile of sticks. 



The Grapes of Wrath 347 

Winfield blinked at the boldness of the attack. "Right on 
the truck," he echoed. "Cor'ner stuck her in a big basket." 

Ma said, "You shush now, both of you, or you got to go 
away." And she fed twigs into the fire. 

Down the line Al had strolled to watch the valve-grinding 
job. "Looks like you're 'bout through," he said. 

"Two more." 

"Is they any girls in this here camp?" 

"I got a wife," said the young man. "I got no time for 
girls." 

"I always got time for girls," said Al. "I got no time for 
nothin' else." 

"You get a little hungry an' you'll change." 

Al laughed. "Maybe. But I ain't never changed that notion 
yet." 

"Fella I talked to while ago, he's with you, ain't he?" 

"Yeahi My brother Tom. Better not fool with him. He 
killed a fella." 

"Did? What for?" 

"Fight. Fella got a knife in Tom. Tom busted 'im with a 
shovel.^ 

"Did, huh? What'd the law do?" 

"Let 'im off 'cause it was a fight," said Al. 

"He don't look like a quarreler." 

"Oh, he ain't. But Tom don't take nothin' from nobody." 
Al's voice was very proud. "Tom, he's quiet. But look 
out!" 

"Wdl-I talked to 'im. He didn' soun' mean." 

"He ain't. Jus' as nice as pie till he's roused, an' then- 
look out." The young man ground at the last valve. "Like 
me to he'p you get them valves set an' the head on?" 

"Sure, if you got nothin' else to do." 



348 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Oughta get some sleep," said AI. "But, hell, I can't keep 
my ban's out of a tore-down car. Jus' got to git in." 

"Well, I'd admire to git a hand," said the young man. "My 
name's Floyd Knowles." 

"I'm Al Joad." 

"Proud to meet ya." 

"Me too," said AI. "Gonna use the same gasket?" 

"Got to," said Floyd. 

Al took out his pocket knife and scraped at the block. 
"Jesus!" he said. "They ain't nothin' I love like the guts of 
a engine." 

"How 'bout girls?" 

"Yeah, girls too! Wisht I could tear down a Rolls an' put 
her back. I looked under the hood of a Cad' 16 one time an', 
God Awmighty, you never seen nothin' so sweet in your 
life! In Sallisaw an' here's this 16 a-standin' in front of a 
restaurant, so I lifts the hood. An' a guy comes out an' says, 
'What the hell you doin'?' I says, 'Jus' lookin'. Ain't she 
swell?' An' he jus' stands there. I don't think he ever looked 
in her before. Jus' stands there. Rich fella in a straw hat. Got 
a stripe' shirt on, an' eye glasses. We don' say nothin'. Jus' 
look. An' purty soon he says, 'How'd you like to drive 
her?'" 

Floyd said, "The hell!" 

"Sure 'How'd you like to drive her?' Well, hell, I got on 
jeansall dirty. I says, Td get her dirty.' 'Come on!' he says. 
'Jus' take her roun' the block.' Well, sir, I set in that seat an' 
I took her roun' the block eight times, an', oh, my God 
Almighty!" 

"Nice?" Floyd asked 

"Oh, Jesus!" said Al. "If I could of tore her down why- 
I'd a give anythinV 



The Grapes of Wrath 349 

Floyd slowed his jerking arm. He lifted the last valve from 
its seat and looked at it. "You better git use' ta a jalopy," he 
said, " 'cause you ain't goin' a drive no 16." He put his brace 
down on the running board and took up a chisel to scrape the 
crust from the block. Two stocky women, bare-headed and 
bare-footed, went by carrying a bucket of milky water be- 
tween them. They limped against the weight of the bucket, 
and neither one looked up from the ground. The sun was 
half down in afternoon. 

Al said, "You don't like nothin' much." 

Floyd scraped harder with the chisel. "I been here six 
months," he said. "I been scrabblin' over this here State tryin' 
to work hard enough and move fast enough to get meat an' 
potatoes for me an' my wife an' my kids. I've run myself like 
a jackrabbit an' I can't quite make her. There just ain't quite 
enough to eat no matter what I do. I'm gettin' tired, that's all. 
I'm gettin' tired way past where sleep rests me. An' I jus' 
don' know what to do." 

"Ain't there no steady work for a fella?" Al asked. 

"No, they ain't no steady work." With his chisel he 
pushed the crust off the block, and he wiped the dull metal 
with a greasy rag. 

A rusty touring car drove down into the camp and there 
were four men in it, men with brown hard faces. The car 
drove slowly through the camp. Floyd called to them, "Any 
luck?" 

The car stopped. The driver said, "We covered a hell of 
a lot a ground. They ain't a hand's work in this here country. 
We gotta move." 

"Where to?" Al called. 

"God knows. We worked this here place over." He let in 
his clutch and moved slowly down the camp. 



350 The Grapes of Wrath 

Al looked after them. "Wouldn' it be better if one fella 
went alone? Then if they was one piece a work, a fella'd 
get it." 

Floyd put down the chisel and smiled sourly. "You ain't 
learned," he said. "Takes gas to get roun' the country. Gas 
costs fifteen cents a gallon. Them four fellas can't take four 
cars. So each of 'em puts in a dime an' they get gas. You got 
to learn." 

"Al!" 

Al looked down at Winfield standing importantly beside 
him. "Al, Ma's dishin' up stew. She says come git it." 

Al wiped his hands on his trousers. "We ain't et today," 
he said to Floyd. "I'll come give you a han' when I eat." 

"No need 'less you want ta." 

"Sure, I'll do it." He followed Winfield toward the Joad 
camp. 

It was crowded now. The strange children stood close to 
the stew pot, so close that Ma brushed them with her elbows 
as she worked. Tom and Uncle John stood beside her. 

Ma said helplessly, "I dunno what to do. I got to feed the 
fambly. What'm I gonna do with these here? " The children 
stood stiffly and looked at her. Their faces were blank, rigid, 
and their eyes went mechanically from the pot to the tin plate 
she held. Their eyes followed the spoon from pot to plate, 
and when she passed the steaming plate up to Uncle John, 
their eyes followed it up. Uncle John dug his spoon into the 
stew, and the banked eyes rose up with the spoon. A piece of 
potato went into John's mouth and the banked eyes were on 
his face, watching to see how he would react. Would it be 
good? Would he like it? 

And then Uncle John seemed to see them for the first time. 



The Grapes of Wrath 351 

He chewed slowly. "You take this here," he said to Tom. 
"I ain't hungry." 

"You ain't et today," Tom said. 

"I know, but I got a stomickache. I ain't hungry." 

Tom said quietly, "You take that plate inside the tent an' 
you eat it." 

"I ain't hungry," John insisted. "I'd still see 'em inside the 
tent." 

Tom turned on the children. "You git," he said. "Go on 
now, git." The bank of eyes left the stew and rested wonder- 
ing on his face. "Go on now, git. You ain't doin' no good. 
There ain't enough for you." 

Ma ladled stew into the tin plates, very little stew, and 
she laid the plates on the ground. "I can't send 'em away," 
she said. "I don' know what to do. Take your plates an' go 
inside. I'll let 'em have what's lef. Here, take a plate in to 
Rosasharn." She smiled up at the children. "Look," she said, 
"you little fellas go an' get you each a flat stick an' I'll put 
what's lef for you. But they ain't to be no fightin'." The 
group broke up with a deadly, silent swiftness. Children ran 
to find sticks, they ran to their own tents and brought 
spoons. Before Ma had finished with the plates they were 
back, silent and wolfish. Ma shook her head. "I dunno what 
to do. I can't rob the fambly. I got to feed the fambly. 
Ruthie, Winfiel', Al," she cried fiercely. "Take your plates. 
Hurry up. Git in the tent quick." She looked apologetically 
at the waiting children. "There ain't enough," she said hum- 
bly. "I'm a-gonna set this here kettle out, an' you'll all get a 
little tas', but it ain't gonna do you no good." She faltered, 
"I can't he'p it. Can't keep it from you." She lifted the pot 
and set it down on the ground. "Now wait. It's too hot," she 



352 The Grapes of Wrath 

said, and she went into the tent quickly so she would not 
see. Her family sat on the ground, each with his plate; and 
outside they could hear the children digging into the pot 
with their sticks and their spoons and their pieces of rusty 
tin. A mound of children smothered the pot from sight. 
They did not talk, did not fight or argue; but there was a 
quiet intentness in all of them, a wooden fierceness. Ma 
turned her back so she couldn't see. "We can't do that no 
more," she said. "We got to eat alone." There was the sound 
of scraping at the kettle, and then the mound of children 
broke and the children walked away and left the scraped 
kettle on the ground. Ma looked at the empty plates. "Didn 1 
none of you get nowhere near enough." 

Pa got up and left the tent without answering. The 
preacher smiled to himself and lay back on the ground, hands 
clasped behind his head. Al got to his feet. "Got to help a 
fella with a car." 

Ma gathered the plates and took them outside to wash. 
"Ruthie," she called, "WinfieP. Go get me a bucket a water 
right off." She handed them the bucket and they trudged off 
toward the river. 

A strong broad woman walked near. Her dress was 
streaked with dust and splotched with car oil. Her chin was 
held high with pride. She stood a short distance away and 
regarded Ma belligerently. At last she approached. "After- 
noon," she said coldly. 

"Afternoon," said Ma, and she got up from her knees and 
pushed a box forward. "Won't you set down?" 

The woman walked near. "No, I won't set down." 

Ma looked questioningly at her. "Can I he'p you in any 
way?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 353 

The woman set her hands on her hips. "You kin he'p me 
by mindin' your own childern an' lettin' mine alone." 

Ma's eyes opened wide. "I ain't done nothin' " she began. 

The woman scowled at her. "My little fella come back 
smellin' of stew. You give it to 'im. He tol' me. Don' you go 
a-boastin' an' a-braggin* 'bout havin' stew. Don' you do it. 
I got 'nuf troubles 'thout that. Come in ta me, he did, an' 
says, 'Whyn't we have stew?' " Her voice shook with fury. 

Ma moved close. "Set down," she said. "Set down an' talk 
a piece." 

"No, I ain't gonna set down. I'm tryin' to feed my folks, 
an' you come along with your stew." 

"Set down," Ma said. "That was 'bout the las' stew we're 
gonna have till we get work. S'pose you was cookin' a stew 
an' a bunch a little fellas stood aroun' moonin', what'd you 
do? We didn't have enough, but you can't keep it when they 
look at ya like that." 

The woman's hands dropped from her hips. For a moment 
her eyes questioned Ma, and then she turned and walked 
quickly away, and she went into a tent and pulled the flaps 
down behind her. Ma stared after her, and then she dropped 
to her knees again beside the stack of tin dishes. 

Al hurried near. "Tom," he called. "Ma, is Tom inside?" 

Tom stuck his head out. "What you want?" 

"Come on with me," Al said excitedly. 

They walked away together. "What's a matter with you?" 
Tom asked. 

"You'll find out. Jus' wait." He led Tom to the torn-down 
car. "This here's Floyd Knowles," he said. 

"Yeah, I talked to him. How ya?" 

"Jus' gettin' her in shape," Floyd said. 



354 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom ran his finger over the top of the block. "What kinda 
bugs is crawlin' on you, Al?" 

"Floyd jus' tol' me. Tell 'em, Floyd." 

Floyd said, "Maybe I shouldn', but yeah, I'll tell ya. Fella 
come through an' he says they's gonna be work up north." 

"Up north?" 

"Yeah place called Santa Clara Valley, way to hell an' 
gone up north." 

"Yeah? Kinda work?" 

"Prune pickin', an' pears an' cannery work. Says it's purty 
near ready." 

"How far?" Tom demanded. 

"Oh, Christ knows. Maybe two hundred miles." 

"That's a hell of a long ways," said Tom. "How we know 
they's gonna be work when we get there?" 

"Well, we don' know," said Floyd. "But they ain't nothin' 
here, an' this fella says he got a letter from his brother, an 
he's on his way. He says not to tell nobody, they'll be too 
many. We oughta get out in the night. Oughta get there an' 
get some work lined up." 

Tom studied him. "Why we gotta sneak away?" 

"Well, if ever'body gets there, ain't gonna be work for 
nobody." 

"It's a hell of a long ways," Tom said. 

Floyd sounded hurt. "I'm jus' givin' you the tip. You 
don' have to take it. Your brother here he'ped me, an* I'm 
givin' you the tip." 

"You sure there ain't no work here?" 

"Look, I been scourin' aroun' for three weeks all over hell, 
an' I ain't had a bit a work, not a single han'-holt. T you 
wanta look aroun' an' burn up gas looking why, go ahead. 
I ain't beggin' you. More that goes, the less chance I got." 



The Grapes of Wrath 355 

Tom said, "I ain't findin' fault. It's jus' such a hell of a long 
ways. An' we kinda hoped we could get work here an' rent 
a house to live in." 

Floyd said patiently, "I know ya jus' got here. They's 
stuff ya got to learn. If you'd let me tell ya, it'd save ya 
somepin. If ya don' let me tell ya, then ya got to learn 
the hard way. You ain't gonna settle down 'cause they ain't 
no work to settle ya. An' your belly ain't gonna let ya 
settle down. Now that's straight." 

"Wisht I could look aroun' first," Tom said uneasily. 

A sedan drove through the camp and pulled up at the next 
tent. A man in overalls and a blue shirt climbed out. Floyd 
called to him, "Any luck?" 

"There ain't a hajj'-turn of work in the whole darn coun- 
try, not till cotton pickin'." And he went into the ragged 
tent. 

"See? "said Floyd. 

"Yeah, I see. But two hunderd miles, Jesus!" 

"Well, you ain't settlin' down no place for a while. 
Might's well make up your mind to that." 

"We better go," Al said. 

Tom asked, "When is they gonna be work aroun' here?" 

"Well, in a month .the cotton'll start. If you got plenty 
money you can wait for the cotton." 

Tom said, "Ma ain't a-gonna wanta move. She's all tar'd 



out." 



Floyd shrugged his shoulders. "I ain't a-tryin' to push ya 
north. Suit yaself. I jus' toP ya what I heard." He picked 
the oily gasket from the running board and fitted it carefully 
on the block and pressed it down. "Now," he said to Al, 
" 'f you want to give me a han' with that engine head." 

Tom watched while they set the heavy head gently down 



356 The Grapes of Wrath 

over the head bolts and dropped it evenly. "Have to talk 

about it," he said. 

Floyd said, "I don't want nobody but your folks to know 
about it. Jus' you. An' I wouldn't of tol' you if ya brother 
didn' he'p me out here." 

Tom said, "Well, I sure thank ya for tellin' us. We got to 
figger it out. Maybe we'll go." 

Al said, "By God, I think I'll go if the res' goes or not. I'll 
hitch there." 

"An' leave the fambly?" Tom asked. 

"Sure. I'd come back with my jeans plumb fulla jack. 
Why not?" 

"Ma ain't gonna like no such thing," Tom said. "An' Pa, 
he ain't gonna like it neither." 

Floyd set the nuts and screwed them down as far as he 
could with his fingers. "Me an' my wife come out with our 
folks," he said. "Back home we wouldn' of thought of, goin' 
away. Wouldn' of thought of it. But, hell, we was all up 
north a piece and I come down here, an' they moved on, an' 
now God knows where they are. Been lookin' an' askin' 
about 'em ever since." He fitted his wrench to the engine- 
head bolts and turned them down evenly, one turn to each 
nut, around and around the series. 

Tom squatted down beside the car and squinted his eyes 
up the line of tents. A little stubble was beaten into the earth 
between the tents. "No, sir," he said, "Ma ain't gonna like 
you goin' off." 

"Well, seems to me a lone fella got more chance of work." 

"Maybe, but Ma ain't gonna like it at all." 

Two cars loaded with disconsolate men drove down into 
the camp. Floyd lifted his eyes, but he didn't ask them about 



The Grapes of Wrath 357 

their luck. Their dusty faces were sad and resistant. The sun 
was sinking now, and the yellow sunlight fell on the Hoover- 
ville and on the willows behind it. The children began to 
come out of the tents, to wander about the camp. And from 
the tents the women came and built their little fires. The men 
gathered in squatting groups and talked together. 

A new Chevrolet coupe turned off the highway and 
headed down into the camp. It pulled to the center of the 
camp. Tom said, "Who's this? They don't belong here." 

Floyd said, "I dunno cops, maybe." 

The car door opened and a man got out and stood beside 
the car. His companion remained seated. Now all the squat- 
ting men looked at the newcomers and the conversation was 
still. And the women building their fires looked secretly at 
the shiny car. The children moved closer with elaborate 
circuitousness, edging inward in long curves. 

Floyd put down his wrench. Tom stood up. Al wiped his 
hands on his trousers. The three strolled toward the Chev- 
rolet. The man who had got out of the car was dressed in 
khaki trousers and a flannel shirt. He wore a flat-brimmed 
Stetson hat. A sheaf of papers was held in his shirt pocket by 
a little fence of fountain pens and yellow pencils; and from 
his hip pocket protruded a notebook with metal covers. He 
moved to one of the groups of squatting men, and they 
looked up at him, suspicious and quiet. They watched him 
and did not move; the whites of their eyes showed beneath 
the irises, for they did not raise their heads to look. Tom and 
Al and Floyd strolled casually near. 

The man said, "You men want to work?" Still they looked 
quietly, suspiciously. And men from all over the camp 
moved near. 



358 The Grapes of Wrath 

One of the squatting men spoke at last. "Sure we wanta 
work. Where's at's work?" f 

"Tulare County. Fruit's opening up. Need a lot of 
pickers." > 

Floyd spoke up. "You doin' the hiring?" 

"Well, I'm contracting the land." 

The men were in a compact group now. An overalled man 
took off his black hat and combed back his long black hair 
with his fingers. "What you payin'?" he asked. 

"Well, can't tell exactly, yet. 'Bout thirty cents, I guess." 

"Why can't you tell? You took the contract, didn' you?" 

"That's true," the khaki man said. "But it's keyed to the 
price. Might be a little more, might be a little less." 

Floyd stepped out ahead. He said quietly, "I'll go, mister. 
You're a contractor, an' you got a license. You jus' show 
your license, an' then you give us an order to go to work, an' 
where, an' when, an' how much we'll get, an' you sign that, 
an' we'll all go." 

The contractor turned, scowling. "You telling me how to 
run my own business?" 

Floyd said, " 'F we're workin' for you, it's our business 
too." 

"Well, you ain't telling me what to do. I told you I need 
men." 

Floyd said angrily, "You didn' say how many men, an* 
you didn' say what you'd pay." 

"Goddamn it, I don't know yet." 

"If you don' know, you got no right to hire men." 

"I got a right to run my business my own way. If you 
men want to sit here on your ass, O.K. I'm out getting men 
for Tulare County. Going to need a lot of men." 

Floyd turned to the crowd of men. They were standing 



The Grapes of Wrath 359 

up now, looking quietly from one speaker to the other. 
Floyd said, "Twicet now I've fell for that. Maybe he needs 
a thousan' men. He'll get five thousan' there, an' he'll pay 
fifteen cents an hour. An' you poor bastards'll have to take it 
'cause you'll be hungry. 'F he wants to hire men, let him hire 
'em an' write it out an' say what he's gonna pay. Ast ta see 
his license. He ain't allowed to contract men without a 
license." 

The contractor turned to the Chevrolet and called, "Joe!" 
His companion looked out and then swung the car door 
open and stepped out. He wore riding breeches and laced 
boots. A heavy pistol holster hung on a cartridge belt around 
his waist. On his brown shirt a deputy sheriff's star was 
pinned. He walked heavily over. His face was set to a thin 
smile. "What you want?" The holster slid back and forth on 
his hip. 

"Ever see this guy before, Joe?" 

The deputy asked "Which one?" 

"This fella." The contractor pointed to Floyd. 

"What'd he do?" The deputy smiled at Floyd. 

"He's talkin' red, agitating trouble." 

"Hm-m-m." The deputy moved slowly around to see 
Floyd's profile, and the color slowly flowed up Floyd's face. 

"You see?" Floyd cried. "If this guy's on the level, would 
he bring a cop along?" 

"Ever see 'im before?" the contractor insisted. 

"Hmm, seems like I have. Las' week when that used-car 
lot was busted into. Seems like I seen this fella hangin' aroun'. 
Yep! I'd swear it's the same fella." Suddenly the smile left 
his face. "Get in that car," he said, and he unhooked the 
strap that covered the butt of his automatic. 

Tom said, "You got nothin' on him." 



360 The Grapes of Wrath 

The deputy swung around. " T you'd like to go in too, 
you jus' open your trap once more. They was two fellas 
hangin' around that lot." 

"I wasn't even in the State las' week," Tom said. 

"Well, maybe you're wanted someplace else. You keep 
your trap shut." 

The contractor turned back to the men; "You fellas don't 
want ta listen to these goddamn reds. Troublemakers they'll 
get you in trouble. Now I can use all of you in Tulare 
County." 

The men didn't answer. 

The deputy turned back to them. "Might be a good idear 
to go," he said. The thin smile was back on his face. "Board 
of Health says we got to clean out this camp. An' if it gets 
around that you got reds out here why, somebody might 
git hurt. Be a good idear< if all you fellas moved on to 
Tulare. They isn't a thing to do aroun' here. That's jus' a 
friendly way a telling you. Be a bunch a guys down here, 
maybe with pick handles, if you ain't gone." 

The contractor said, "I told you I need men. If you don't 
want to work well, that's your business." 

The deputy smiled. "If they don't want to work, they ain't 
a place for 'em in this county. We'll float 'em quick/' 

Floyd stood stiffly beside the deputy, and Floyd's thumbs 
were hooked over his belt. Tom stole a look at him, and then 
stared at the ground. 

"That's all," the contractor said. "There's men needed in 
Tulare County; plenty of work." 

Tom looked slowly up at Floyd's hands, and he saw the 
strings at the wrists standing out under the skin. Tom's own 
hands came up, and his thumbs hooked over his belt. 



The Grapes of Wrath 361 

"Yeah, that's all. I don't want one of you here by tomorra 
morning." 

The contractor stepped into the Chevrolet. 

"Now, you," the deputy said to Floyd, "you get in that 
car." He reached a large hand up and took hold of Floyd's 
left arm. Floyd spun and swung with one movement. His 
fist splashed into the large face, and in the same motion he 
was away, dodging down the line of tents. The deputy 
staggered and Tom put out his foot for him to trip over. 
The deputy fell heavily and rolled, reaching for his gun. 
Floyd dodged in and out of sight down the line. The deputy 
fired from the ground. A woman in front of a tent screamed 
and then looked at a hand which had no knuckles. The 
fingers hung on strings against her palm, and the torn flesh 
was white and bloodless. Far down the line Floyd came in 
sight, sprinting for the willows. The deputy, sitting on the 
ground, raised his gun again and then, suddenly, from the 
group of men, the Reverend Casy stepped. He kicked the 
deputy in the neck and then stood back as the heavy man 
crumpled into unconsciousness. 

The motor of the Chevrolet roared and it streaked away, 
churning the dust. It mounted to the highway and shot 
away. In front of her tent, the woman still looked at her 
shattered hand. Little droplets of blood began to ooze from 
the wound. And a chuckling hysteria began in her throat, a 
whining laugh that grew louder and higher with each 
breath. 

The deputy lay on his side, his mouth open against the 
dust. 

Tom picked up his automatic, pulled out the magazine 
and threw it into the brush, and he ejected the live shell 



362 The Grapes of Wrath 

from the chamber. "Fella like that ain't got no right to a 

gun," he said; and he dropped the automatic to the ground. 

A crowd had collected around the woman with the 
broken hand, and her hysteria increased, a screaming quality 
came into her laughter. 

Casy moved close to Tom. "You got to git out," he said. 
"You go down in the willas an' wait. He didn' see me kick 
'im, but he seen you stick out your foot." 

"I don' want ta go," Tom said. 

Casy put his head close. He whispered, "They'll finger- 
print you. You broke parole. They'll send you back." 

Tom drew in his breath quietly. "Jesus! I forgot." 

"Go quick," Casy said. " 'Fore he comes to." 

"Like to have his gun," Tom said. 

"No. Leave it. If it's awright to come back, I'll give ya 
four high whistles." 

Tom strolled away casually, but as soon as he was away 
from the group he hurried his steps, and he disappeared 
among the willows that lined the river. 

Al stepped over to the fallen deputy. "Jesus," he said ad- 
miringly, "you sure flagged 'im down!" 

The crowd of men had continued to stare at the uncon- 
scious man. And now in the great distance a siren screamed 
up the scale and dropped, and it screamed again, nearer this 
time. Instantly the men were nervous. They shifted their 
feet for a moment and then they moved away, each one to 
his own tent. Only Al and the preachfer remained. 

Casy turned to Al. "Get out," he said. "Go on, get cut- 
to the tent. You don't know nothinV 

"Yeah? How 'bout you?" 

Casy grinned at him. "Somebody got to take the blame. I 



t The Grapes of Wrath 363 

got no kids. They'll jus' put me in jail, an' I ain't doin' nothin* 
but set aroun'." 

Al said, "Ain't no reason for " 

"Go on now," Casy said sharply. "You get outa this." 

Al bristled. "I ain't takin' orders." 

Casy said softly, "If you mess in this your whole fambly, 
all your folks, gonna get in trouble. I don' care about you. 
But your ma and your pa, they'll get in trouble. Maybe 
they'll send Tom back to McAlester." 

Al considered it for a moment. "O.K.," he said. "I think 
you're a damn fool, though." 

"Sure," said Casy. "Why not?" 

The siren screamed again and again, and always it came 
closer. Casy knelt beside the deputy and turned him over. 
The man groaned and fluttered his eyes, and he tried to see. 
Casy wiped the dust off his lips. The families were in the 
tents now, and the flaps were down, and the setting sun made 
the air red and the gray tents bronze. 

Tires squealed on the highway and an open car came 
swiftly into the camp. Four men, armed with rifles, piled out. 
Casy stood up and walked to them. 

"What the hell's goin' on here?" 

Casy said, "I knocked out your man there." 

One of the armed men went to the deputy. He was con- 
scious now, trying weakly to sit up. 

"Now what happened here?" 

"Well," Casy said, "he got tough afl' I hit 'im, and he 
started shootin' hit a woman down the line. So I hit 'im 
again." 

"Well, what'd you do in the first place?" 

"I talked back," said Casy. 

"Get in that car." 



364 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Sure," said Casy, and he climbed into the back seat and 
sat down. Two men helped the hurt deputy to his feet. He 
felt his neck gingerly. Casy saicj, "They's a woman down the 
row like to bleed to death from his bad shootin'." 

"We'll see about that later. Mike, is this the fella that hit 
you?" 

The dazed man stared sickly at Casy. "Don't look like 
him." 

"It was me, all right," Casy said. "You got smart with the 
wrong fella." 

Mike shook his head slowly. "You don't look like the right 
fella to me. By God, I'm gonna be sick!" 

Casy said, "I'll go 'thout no trouble. You better see how 
bad that woman's hurt." 

"Where's she?" 

"That tent over there." 

The leader of the deputies walked to the tent, rifle, in hand. 
He spoke through the tent walls, and then went inside. In a 
moment he came out and walked back. And he said, a little 
proudly, "Jesus, what a mess a .45 does make! They got a 
tourniquet on. We'll send a doctor out." 

Two deputies sat on either side of Casy. The leader 
sounded his horn. There was no movement in the camp. The 
flaps were down tight, and the people in their tents. The 
engine started andthe car swung around and pulled out of 
the camp. Between his guards Casy sat proudly, his head up 
and the stringy muscles of his neck prominent. On his lips 
there was a faint smile and on his face a curious look of 
conquest. 

When the deputies had gone, the people came out of the 
tents. The sun was down now, and the gentle blue evening 
light was in the camp. To the east the, mountains were still 



The Grapes of Wrath 365 

yellow with sunlight. The women went back to the fires 
that had died. The men collected to squat together and to 
talk softly. 

Al crawled from under the Joad tarpaulin and walked 
reward the willows to whistle for Tom. Ma came out and 
Duilt her little fire of twigs. 

"Pa," she said, "we ain't goin' to have much. We et so 
ate." 

Pa and Uncle John stuck close to the camp, watching Ma 
peeling potatoes and slicing them raw into a frying pan of 
deep grease. Pa said, "Now what the hell made the preacher 
do that?" 

Ruthie and Winfield crept close and crouched down to 
hear the talk. 

Uncle John scratched the earth deeply with a long rusty 
nail. "He knowed about sin. I ast him about sin, an' he tol' 
me; but I don' know if he's right. He says a fella's sinned if 
lie thinks he's sinned." Uncle John's eyes were tired and sad. 
"I been secret all my days," he said. "I done things I never 
tol' about." 

Ma turned from the fire. "Don' go tellin', John," she said. 
'Tell 'em to God. Don' go burdenin' other people with 
your sins. That ain't decent." 

"They're a-eatin' on me," said John. 

"Well, don' tell 'em. Go down the river an' stick your 
bead under an' whisper 'em in the stream." 

Pa nodded his head slowly at Ma's words. "She's right," he 
said. "It gives a fella relief to tell, but it jus' spreads out his 

Uncle John looked up to the sun-gold mountains, and the 
mountains were reflected in his eyes. "I wisht I could run it 
down," he said. "But, I can't. She's a-bitin' in my guts." 



366 The Grapes of Wrath 

Behind him Rose of Sharon moved dizzily out of the tent. 
"Where's Connie?" she asked irritably. "I ain't seen Connie 
for a long time. Where'd he go?" 

"I ain't seen him," said Ma. "If I see 'im, I'll tell 'im you 



want 'im." 



"I ain't feelin' good," said Rose of Sharon. "Connie 
shouldn' of left me." 

Ma looked up to the girl's swollen face. "You been 
a-cryin'," she said. 

The tears started freshly in Rose of Sharon's eyes. 

Ma went on firmly, "You git aholt on yaself. They's a lot 
of us here. You git aholt on yaself. Come here now an' peel 
some potatoes. You're feelin' sorry for yaself." 

The girl started to go back in the tent. She tried to avoid 
Ma's stern eyes, but they compelled her and she came slowly 
toward the fire. "He shouldn' of went away," she said, but 
the tears were gone. 

"You got to work," Ma said. "Set in the tent an' you'll 
get feelin' sorry about yaself. I ain't had time to take you in 
han'. I will now. You take this here knife an' get to them 
potatoes." 

The girl knelt down and obeyed. She said fiercely, 
"Wait'll I see 'im. I'll tell 'im." 

Ma smiled slowly. "He might smack you. You got it 
comin' with whinin' aroun' an' candyin' yaself. If he smacks 
some sense in you I'll bless 'im." The girl's eyes blazed with 
resentment, but she was silent. , 

Uncle John pushed his rusty nail deep into the ground 
with his broad thumb. "I got to tell," he said. 

Pa said, "Well, tell then, goddamn it! Who'd ya kill?" 

Uncle John dug with his thumb into the watch pocket of 



The Grapes of Wrath 367 

his blue jeans and scooped out a folded dirty bill. He spread 
it out and showed it. "Fi' dollars," he said. 

"Steal her? "Pa asked. 

"No, I had her. Kept her out." 

"She was yourn, wasn't she?" 

"Yeah, but I didn't have no right to keep her out." 

"I don't see much sin in that," Ma said. "It's yourn." 
i Uncle John said slowly, "It ain't only the keepin' her out. 
I kep' her out to get drunk. I knowed they was gonna come 
a time when I got to get drunk, when I'd get to hurtin' inside 
so I got to get drunk. Figgered time wasn' yqjt, an' then the 
preacher went an' give 'imself up to save Tom." 

Pa nodded his head up and down and cocked his head to 
hear. Ruthie moved closer, like a puppy, crawling on her 
elbows, and Winfield followed her. Rose of Sharon dug at a 
deep eye in a potato with the point of her knife. The evening 
light deepened and became more blue. 

Ma said, in a sharp matter-of-fact tone, "I don' see why 
him savin' Tom got to get you drunk." 

John said sadly, "Can't say her. I feel awful. He done her 
so easy. Jus' stewed up there an' says, 'I done her/ An' they 
took 'im away. An' I'm a-gonna get drunk." 

Pa still nodded his head. "I don't see why you got to tell," 
he said. "If it was me, I'd jus' go off an' get drunk if I had to." 

"Come a time when I could a did somepin an' took the big 
sin off my soul," Uncle John said sadly. "An' I slipped up. I 
didn' jump on her, an' an' she got away. Lookie! " he said. 
"You got the money. Gimme two dollars." 

Pa reached reluctantly into his pocket and brought out the 
leather pouch. "You ain't gonna need no seven dollars to get 
drunk. You don't need to drink champagny water." 



3 68 The Grapes of Wrath 

Uncle John held out his bill. "You take this here an* 
gimme two dollars. I can get good an' drunk for two dollars. 
I don' want no sin of waste on me. I'll spend whatever I got. 
Always do." 

Pa took the dirty bill and gave Uncle John two silver dol- 
lars. "There ya are," he said. "A fella got to do what he got 
to do. Nobody don' know enough to tell 'im." 

Uncle John took the coins. "You ain't gonna be mad? 
You know I got to?" 

"Christ, yes," said Pa. "You know what you got to do." 

"I wouldn' be able to get through this night no other 
way," he said. He turned to Ma. "You ain't gonna hold her 
over me?" 

Ma didn't look up. "No," she said softly. "No you go 
'long." 

He stood up and walked forlornly away in the evening. 
He walked up to the concrete highway and across the pave- 
ment to the grocery store. In front of the screen door he 
took off his hat, dropped it into the dust, and ground it with 
his heel in self-abasement. And he left his black hat there, 
broken and dirty. He entered the store and walked to the 
shelves where the whisky bottles stood behind wire netting. 

Pa and Ma and the children watched Uncle John move 
away. Rose of Sharon kept her eyes resentfully on the 
potatoes. 

"Poor John," Ma said. "I wondered if it would a done any 
good if no I guess not. I never seen a man so drove." 

Ruthie turned on her side in the dust. She put her head 
close to Winfield's head and pulled his ear against her mouth. 
She whispered, "I'm gonna get drunk." Winfield snorted 
and pinched his mouth tight. The two children crawled 
away, holding their breath, their faces purple with the pres- 



The Grapes of Wrath 369 

sure of their giggles. They crawled around the tent and 
leaped up and ran squealing away from the tent. They ran 
to the willows, and once concealed, they shrieked with 
laughter. Ruthie crossed her eyes and loosened her joints; she 
staggered about, tripping loosely, with her tongue hanging 
out. "I'm drunk," she said. 

"Look," Winfield cried. "Looka me, here's me, an' I'm 
Uncle John." He flapped his arms and puffed, he whirled 
until he was dizzy. 

"No," said Ruthie. "Here's the way. Here's the way. Fm 
Uncle John. I'm awful drunk." 

Al and Tom walked quietly through the willows, and they 
came on the children staggering crazily about. The dusk was 
thick now. Tom stopped and peered. "Ain't that Ruthie an' 
Winfiel'? What'the hell's the matter with 'em?" They 
walked nearer. "You crazy?" Tom asked. 

The children stopped, embarrassed. "We was jus' 
playin'," Ruthie said. 

"It's a crazy way to play," said Al. 

Ruthie said pertly, "It ain't no crazier'n a lot of things." 

Al walked on. He said to Tom, "Ruthie's workin' up a 
kick in the panes. She been workin' it up a long time. 'Bout 
due for it." 

Ruthie mushed her face at his back, pulled out her mouth 
with her forefingers, slobbered her tongue at him, outraged 
him in every way she knew, but Al did not turn back to look 
at her. She looked at Winfield again to start the game, but it 
had been spoiled. They both knew it. 

"Le's go down the water an' duck our heads," Winfield 
suggested. They walked down through the willows, and they 
were angry at Al. 

Al and Tom went quietly in the dusk. Tom said, "Casy 



370 The Grapes of Wrath 

shouldn' of did it. I might of knew, though. He was talkin' 
how he ain't done nothin' for us. He's a funny fella, Al. All 
the time thinkinV 

"Comes from bein' a preacher," Al said. "They get all 
messed up with stuff." 

"Where ya s'pose Connie was a-goin'?" 

"Coin' to take a crap, I guess." 

"Well, he was goin' a hell of a long way." 

They walked among the tents, keeping close to the walls. 
At Floyd's tent a soft hail stopped them. They came near to 
the tent flap and squatted down. Floyd raised the canvas a 
little. "You gettin' out?' 

Tom said, "I don' know. Think we better?" 

Floyd laughed sourly. "You heard what that bull said* 
They'll burn ya out if ya don't. 'F you think that guy's 
gonna take a beatin' 'thout gettin' back, you're nuts. The 
pool-room boys'll be down here tonight to burn us out." 

"Guess we better git, then," Tom said. "Where you 
a-goin'?" 

"Why, up north, like I said." 

Al said, "Look, a fella toF me 'bout a gov'ment camp near 
here. Where's it at?" 

"Oh, I think that's full up." 

"Well, where's it at?" 

"Go south on 99 'bout twelve-f ourteen miles, an' turn east 
to Weedpatch. It's right near there. But I think she's full 
up." 

"Fella says it's nice," Al said. 

"Sure, she's nice. Treat ya like a man 'stead of a dog. Ain't 
no cops there. But she's full up." 

Tom said, "What I can't understand why that cop was so 



The Grapes of Wrath 371 

mean. Seemed like he was aimin' for trouble; seemed like he's 
pokin' a fella to make trouble." 

Floyd said, "I don' know about here, but up north I 
knowed one a them fellas, an* he was a nice fella. He toP me 
up there the deputies got to take guys in. Sheriff gets seventy- 
five cents a day for each prisoner, an' he feeds 'em for a quar- 
ter. If he ain't got prisoners, he don't make no profit. This 
fella says he didn' pick up nobody for a week, an' the sheriff 
tol' 'im he better bring in guys or give up his button. This 
fella today sure looks like he's out to make a pinch one way 
or another." 

"We got to get on," said Tom. "So long, Floyd." 

"So long. Prob'ly see you. Hope so." 

"Good-by," said Al. They walked through the dark gray 
camp to the Joad tent. 

The frying pan of potatoes was hissing and spitting over 
the fire. Ma moved the thick slices about with a spoon. Pa 
sat near by, hugging his knees. Rose of Sharon was sitting 
under the tarpaulin. 

"It's Tom!" Ma cried. "Thank God." 

"We got to get outa here," said Tom. 

"What's the matter now?" 

"Well, Floyd says they'll burn the camp tonight." 

"What the hell for?" Pa asked. "We ain't done nothin'." 

"Nothin' 'cept beat up a cop," said Tom. 

"Well, we never done it." 

"From what that cop said, they wanta push us along." 

Rose of Sharon demanded, "You seen Connie?" 

"Yeah," said Al. "Way to hell an' gone up the river. He's 
goin' south." 

"Was was he goin' away?" 



372 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I don' know." 

Ma turned on the girl. "Rosasharn, you been t'alkin' an' 
actin' funny. What'd Connie say to you?'' 

Rose of Sharon said sullenly, "Said it would a been a good 
thing if he stayed home an 7 studied up tractors." 

They were very quiet. Rose of Sharon looked at the fire 
and her eyes glistened in the firelight. The potatoes hissed 
sharply in the frying pan. The girl sniffled and wiped her 
nose with the back of her hand. 

Pa said, "Connie wasn' no good. I seen that a long time. 
Didn' have no guts, jus' too big for his overhalls." 

Rose of Sharon got up and went into the tent. She lay 
down on the mattress and rolled over on her stomach and 
buried her head in her crossed arms. 

"Wouldn' do no good to catch 'im, I guess," Al said. 

Pa replied, "No. If he ain't no good, we don' want him." 

Ma looked into the tent, where Rose of Sharon lay on her 
mattress. Ma said, "Sh. Don' say that." 

"Well, he ain't no good," Pa insisted. "All the time a-sayin' 
what he's a-gonna do. Never doin' nothin'. I didn' want ta 
say nothin' while he's here. But now he's run out " 

"Sh!" Ma said softly. 

"Why, for Christ's sake? Why do I got to shh? He run 
out, didn' he?" 

Ma turned over the potatoes with her spoon, and the 
grease boiled and spat. She fed twigs to the fire, and the 
flames laced up and lighted the tent. ,Ma said, "Rosasharn 
gonna have a little fella an' that baby is half Connie. It ain't 
good for a baby to grow up with folks a-sayin' his pa ain't 
no good." 

"Better'n lyin' about it," said Pa. 



The Grapes of Wrath 373 

"No, it ain't," Ma interrupted. "Make out like he's dead. 
You wouldn' say no bad things about Connie if he's dead." 

Tom broke in, "Hey, what is this? We ain't sure Connie's 
gone for good. We got no time for talkin'. We got to eat 1 
an' get on our way." 

"On our way? We jus' come here." Ma peered at him 
through the firelighted darkness. 

He explained carefully, "They gonna burn the camp to- 
night, Ma. Now you know I ain't got it in me to stan' by an' 
see our stuff burn up, nor Pa ain't got it in him, nor Uncle 
John. We'd come up a-fightin', an' I jus' can't afford to be 
took in an' mugged. I nearly got it today, if the preacher 
hadn' jumped in." 

Ma had been turning the frying potatoes in the hot grease. 
Now she took her decision. "Come on!" she cried. "Le's eat 
this stuff. We got to go quick." She set out the tin plates. 

Pa said, "How 'bout John?" 

"Where is Uncle John?" Tom asked. 

Pa and Ma were silent for a moment, and then Pa said, "He 
went to get drunk." 

"Jesus!" Tom said. "What a time he picked out! Where'd 
he go?" 

"I don' know," said Pa. 

Tom stood up. "Look," he said, "you all eat an' get the 
stuff loaded. I'll go look for Uncle John. He'd of went to 
the store 'crost the road." 

Tom walked quickly away. The little cooking fires burned 
in front of the tents and the shacks, and the light fell on the 
faces of ragged men and women, on crouched children. In 
a few tents the light of kerosene lamps shone through the 
canvas and placed shadows of people hugely on the cloth. 



374 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom walked up the dusty road and crossed the concrete 
highway to the little grocery store. He stood in front of the 
screen door and looked in. The proprietor, a little gray man 
with an unkempt mustache and watery eyes, leaned on the 
counter reading a newspaper. His thin arms were bare and he 
wore a long white apron. Heaped around and in back of him 
were mounds, pyramids, walls of canned goods. He looked 
up when Tom came in, and his eyes narrowed as though he 
aimed a shotgun. 

"Good evening," he said. "Run out of something?" 

"Run out of my uncle," said Turn, "Or he run out, or 
something." 

The gray man looked puzzled and worried at the same 
time. He touched the tip of his nose tenderly and waggled it 
around to stop an itch. "Seems like you people always lost 
somebody," he said. "Ten times a day or more somebody 
comes in here an' says, 'If you see a man named so an' so, 
an' looks like so an' so, will you tell 'im we went up north?' 
Somepin like that all the time." 

Tom laughed. "Well, if you see a young snot-nose name' 
Connie, looks a little bit like a coyote, tell 'im to go to hell. 
We've went south. But he ain't the fella I'm lookin' for. Did 
a fella 'bout sixty years ol', black pants, sort of grayish hair, 
come in here an' get some whisky?" 

The eyes of the gray man brightened. "Now he sure did. 
I never seen anything like it. He stood out front an' he 
dropped his hat an' stepped on it. Here, I got his hat here." 
He brought the dusty broken hat from under the counter. 

Tom took it from him. "That's him, all right." 

"Well, sir, he got couple pints of whisky an' he didn' say 
a thing. He pulled the cork an' tipped up the bottle. I ain't 
got a license to drink here. I says, 'Look, you can't drink 



The Grapes of Wrath 375 

here. You got to go outside.' Well, sir! He jus' stepped out- 
side the door, an' I bet he didn't tilt up that pint more'n four 
times till it was empty. He throwed it away an' he leaned in 
the door. Eyes kinda dull. He says, "Thank you, sir,' an' he 
went on. I never seen no drinkin' like that in my life." 

"Went on? Which way? I got to get him." 

"Well, it so happens I can tell you. I never seen such 
drinkin', so I looked out after him. He went north; an' then 
a car come along an' lighted him up, an' he went down the 
bank. Legs was beginnin' to buckle a little. He got the other 
pint open awready. He won't be far not the way he was 
grin'." 

Tom said, "Thank ya. I got to find him." 

"You want ta take his hat?" 

"Yeah! Yeah! He'll need it. Well, thank ya." 

"What's the matter with him?" the gray man asked. "He 
wasn't takin' pleasure in his drink." 

"Oh, he's kinda moody. Well, good night. An' if you see 
that squirt Connie, tell 'im we've went south." 

"I got so many people to look out for an' tell stuff to, I 
can't ever remember 'em all." 

"Don't put yourself out too much," Tom said. He went 
out the screen door carrying Uncle John's dusty black hat. 
He crossed the concrete road and walked along the edge of 
it. Below him in the sunken field, the Hooverville lay; and 
the little fires flickered and the lanterns shone through the 
tents. Somewhere in the camp a guitar sounded, slow chords, 
struck without any sequence, practice chords. Tom stopped 
and listened, and then he moved slowly along the side of the 
road, and every few steps he stopped to listen again. He had 
gone a quarter of a mile before he heard what he listened for. 
Down below the embankment the sound of a thick, tuneless 



376 The Grapes of Wrath 

voice, singing drably. Tom cocked his head, the better to 

hear. 

And the dull voice sang, "I've give my heart to Jesus, so 
Jesus take me home. I've give my soul to Jesus, so Jesus is my 
home." The song trailed off to a murmur, and then stopped. 
Tom hurried down from the embankment, toward the song. 
After a while he stopped and listened again. And the voice 
was close this time, the same slow, tuneless singing, "Oh, the 
night that Maggie died, she called me to her side, an' give to 
me them oF red flannel drawers that Maggie wore. They 
was baggy at the knees " 

Tom moved cautiously forward. He saw the black form 
sitting on the ground, and he stole near and sat down. Uncle 
John tilted the pint and the liquor gurgled out of the neck 
of the bottle. 

Tom said quietly, "Hey, wait! Where do I come in?" 

Uncle John turned his head. "Who you?" 

"You forgot me awready? You had four drinks to my 



one." 



"No, Tom, Don' try fool me. I'm all alone here. You ain't 
been here." % 

"Well, I'm sure here now. How 'bout givin' me a snort?" 

Uncle John raised the pint again and the whisky gurgled. 
He shook the bottle. It was empty. "No more," he said. 
"Wanta die so bad. Wanta die awful. Die a little bit. Got to. 
Like sleepin'. Die a little bit. So tar'd. Tar'd. Maybe don' 
wake up no more." His voice crooned off. "Gonna wear a 
crown a golden crown." 

Tom said, "Listen here to me, Uncle John. We're gonna 
move on. You come along, an' you can go right to sleep up 
on the load." 



The Grapes of Wrath 377 

John shook his head. "No. Go on. Ain't goin'. Gonna res' 
here. No good goin' back. No good to nobodyjus' a- 
draggin' my sins like dirty drawers 'mongst nice folks. No. 
Ain't goin'." 

"Come on. We can't go 'less you go." 

"Go ri' 'long. I ain't no good. I ain't no good. Jus' a- 
draggin' my sins, a-dirtyin' ever'body." 

"You got no more sin'n anybody else." 

John put his head close, and he winked one eye wisely. 
Tom could see his face dimly in the starlight. "Nobody don' 
know my sins, nobody but Jesus. He knows." 

Tom got down on his knees. He put his hand on Uncle 
John's forehead, and it was hot and dry. John brushed his 
hand away clumsfly. 

"Come on," Tom pleaded. "Come on now, Uncle John." 

"Ain't goin' go. Jus' tar'd. Gon' res' ri' here. Ri' here." 

Tom was very close. He put his fist against the point of 
Uncle John's chin. He made a small practice arc twice, for 
distance; and then, with his shoulder in the swing, he hit the 
chin a delicate perfect blow. John's chin snapped up and he 
fell backwards and tried to sit up again. But Tom was kneel- 
ing over him and as John got one elbow up Tom hit him 
again. Uncle John lay still on the ground. 

Tom stood up and, bending, he lifted the loose sagging 
body and boosted it over his shoulder. He staggered under 
the loose weight. John's hanging hands tapped him on the 
back as he went, slowly, puffing up the bank to the highway. 
Once a car came by and lighted him with the limp man over 
his shoulder. The car slowed for a moment and then roared 
away. 

Tom was panting when he came back to the Hooverville, 



378 The Grapes of Wrath 

down from the road and to the Joad truck. John was coming 

to; he struggled weakly. Tom set him gently down on the 

ground. 

Camp had been broken while he was gone. Al passed the 
bundles up on the truck. The tarpaulin lay ready to bind 
over the load. 

Al said, "He sure got a quick start." 

Tom apologized. "I had to hit 'im a little to make 'im 
come. Poor fella." 

"Didn' hurt 'im?" Ma asked. 

"Don' think so. He's a-comin' out of it." 

Uncle John was weakly sick on the ground. His spasms of 
vomiting came in little gasps. 

Ma said, "I lef ' a plate a potatoes for you, Tom." 

Tom chuckled. "I ain't just in the mood right now." 

Pa called, "Awright, Al. Sling up the tarp." 

The truck was loaded and ready. Uncle John had, gone to 
sleep. Tom and Al boosted and pulled him up on the load 
while Winfield made a vomiting noise behind the truck and 
Ruthie plugged her mouth with her hand to keep from 
squealing. 

"Awready," Pa said. 

Tom asked, "Where's Rosasharn?" 

"Over there," said Ma. "Come on, Rosasharn. We're 
a-goin'." 

The girl sat still, her chin sunk on her breast. Tom walked 
over to her. "Come on," he said. 

"I ain't a-goin'." She did not raise her head. 

"You got to go." 

"I want Connie. I ain't a-goin' till he comes back." 

Three cars pulled out of the camp, up the road to the high- 
way, old cars loaded with the camps and the people. They 



The Grapes of Wrath 379 

clanked up to the highway and rolled away, their dim lights 
glancing along the road. 

Tom said, "Connie'll find us. I lef word up at the store 
where we'd be. He'll find us." 

Ma came up and stood beside him. "Come on, Rosasharn. 
Come on, honey," she said gently. 

"I wanta wait." 

"We can't wait." Ma leaned down and took the girl by the 
arm and helped her to her feet. 

"He'll find us," Tom said. "Don' you worry. He'll find us." 
They walked on either side of the girl. 

"Maybe he went to get them books to study up," said Rose 
of Sharon. "Maybe he was a-gonna surprise us." 

Ma said, "Maybe that's jus' what he done." They led her 
to the truck and helped her up on top of the load, and she 
crawled under the tarpaulin and disappeared into the dark 
cave. 

Now the bearded man from the weed shack came timidly 
to the truck. He waited about, his hands clutched behind his 
back. "You gonna leave any stuff a fella could use?" he asked 
at last. 

Pa said, "Can't think of nothin'. We ain't got nothin' to 
leave." 

Tom asked, "Ain't ya gettin' out?" 

For a long time the bearded man stared at him. "No," he 
said at last. 

"But they'll burn ya out." 

The unsteady eyes dropped to the ground. "I know. They 
done it before." 

"Well, why the hell don't ya get out?" 

The bewildered eyes looked up for a moment, and then 



380 The Grapes of Wrath 

down again, and the dying firelight was reflected redly. "I 

don' know. Takes so long to git stuff together." 

"You won't have nothin' if they burn ya out." 

"I know. You ain't leavin' nothin' a fella could use?" 

"Cleaned out, slick," said Pa. The bearded man vaguely 
wandered away. "What's a matter with him?" Pa demanded. 

"Cop-happy," said Tom. "Fella was sayin' he's bull- 
simple. Been beat over the head too much." 

A second little caravan drove past the camp and climbed to 
the toad and moved away. 

"Come on, Pa. Let's go. Look here, Pa. You an' me an' Al 
ride in the seat. Ma can get on the load. No. Ma, you ride in 
the middle. Al" Tom reached under the seat and brought 
out a big monkey wrench "Al, you get up behind. Take this 
here. Jus' in case. If anybody tries to climb up let 'im have 
it." 

Al took the wrench and climbed up the back board, and he 
settled himself cross-legged, the wrench in his hand. Tom 
pulled the iron jack handle from under the seat and laid it on 
the floor, under the brake pedal. "Awright," he said. "Get in 
the middle, Ma." 

Pa said, "I ain't got nothin' in my han'." 

"You can reach over an' get the jack handle," said Tom. 
"I hope to Jesus you don' need it." He stepped on the starter 
and the clanking flywheel turned over, the engine caught 
and died, and caught again. Tom turned on the lights and 
moved out of the camp in low gear. The dim lights fingered 
the road nervously. They climbed up to the highway and 
turned south. Tom said, "They comes a time when a man 
gets mad." 

Ma broke in, "Tom you toP me you promised me you 
wasn't like that. You promised." 



The Grapes of Wrath 381 

"I know, Ma. I'm a-tryin'. But them deputies Did you 
ever see a deputy that didn' have a fat ass? An' they waggle 
their ass an' flop their gun aroun'. Ma," he said, "if it was the 
law they was workin' with, why, we could take it. But it 
ain't the law. They're a-workin' away at our spirits. They're 
a-tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. 
They tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes 
a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by 
takin' a sock at a cop. They're workin' on our decency." 

Ma said, "You promised, Tom. That's how Pretty Boy 
Floyd done. I knowed his ma. They hurt him." 

"I'm a-tryin', Ma. Honest to God, I am. You doa' want me 
to crawl like a beat bitch, with my belly on the groun', do 
you?" 

"I'm a-prayin'. You got to keep clear, Tom. The fambly's 
breakin' up. You got to keep clear." 

"I'll try, Ma. But when one a them fat asses gets to workin' 
me over, I got a big job tryin'. If it was the law, it'd be dif- 
ferent. But burnin' the camp ain't the law." 

The car jolted along. Ahead, a little row of red lanterns 
stretched across the highway. 

"Detour, I guess," Tom said. He slowed the car and 
stopped it, and immediately a crowd of men swarmed about 
the truck. They were armed with pick handles and shotguns. 
They wore trench helmets and some American Legion caps. 
One man leaned in the window, and the warm smell of 
whisky preceded him. 

"Where you think you're goin'?" He thrust a red face near 
to Tom's face. 

Tom stiffened. His hand crept down to the floor and felt 
for the jack handle. Ma caught his arm and held it power- 
fully. Tom said, "Well" and then his voice took on a servile 



382 The Grapes of Wrath 

whine. "We're strangers here," he said. "We heard about 
they's work in a place called Tulare." 

"Well, goddamn it, you're goin' the wrong way. We ain't 
gonna have no goddamn Okies in this town." 

Tom's shoulders and arms were rigid, and a shiver went 
through him. Ma clung to his arm. The front of the truck 
was surrounded by the armed men. Some of them, to make 
a military appearance, wore tunics and Sam Browne belts. 

Tom whined, "Which way is it at, mister?" 

"You turn right around an' head north. An' don't come 
back till the cotton's ready." 

Tom shivered all over. "Yes, sir," he said. He put the car 
in reverse, backed around and turned. He headed back the 
way he had come. Ma released his arm and patted him softly. 
And Tom tried to restrain his hard smothered sobbing. 

"Don' you mind," Ma said. "Don' you mind." 

Tom blew his nose out the window and wiped his eyes on 
his sleeve. "The sons-of-bitches " 

"You done good," Ma said tenderly. "You done jus' good." 

Tom swerved into a side dirt road, ran a hundred yards, 
and turned off his lights and motor. He got out of the car, 
carrying the jack handle. 

"Where you goin'?" Ma demanded. 

"Jus' gonna look. We ain't goin' north." The red lanterns 
moved up the highway. Tom watched them cross the en- 
trance of the dirt road and continue on. In a few moments 
there came the sounds of shouts and screams, and then a flar- 
ing light arose from the direction of the Hooverville. The 
light grew and spread, and from the distance came a crack- 
ling sound. Tom got in the truck again. He turned around 
and ran up the dirt road without lights. At the highway he 
turned south again, and he turned on his lights. 



The Grapes of Wrath 383 

Ma asked timidly, "Where we goin', Tom?" 

"Coin' south," he said. "We couldn' let them bastards push 
us aroun'. We couldn'. Try to get aroun' the town 'thout 
goin' through it." 

"Yeah, but where we goin'?" Pa spoke for the first time. 
"That's what I want ta know." 

"Gonna look for that gov'ment camp," Tom said. "A fella 
said they don' let no deputies in there. Ma I got to get away 
from 'em. I'm scairt I'll kill one." 

"Easy, Tom." Ma soothed him. "Easy, Tommy. You done 
good once. You can do it again." 

"Yeah, an' after a while I won't have no decency lef." 

"Easy," she said. "You got to have patience. Why, Tom 
us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. 
Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna 
wipe us out. Why, we're the people we go on." 

"We take a beatin' all the time." 

"I know." Ma chuckled. "Maybe that makes us tough. 
Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good, 
an' they die out. But, Tom, we keep a-comin'. Don' you fret 
none, Tom. A different time's comin'." 

"How do you know?" 

"I don' know how." 

They entered the town and Tom turned down a side street 
to avoid the center. By the street lights he looked at his 
mother. Her face was quiet and a curious look was in her 
eyes, eyes like the timeless eyes of a statue. Tom put out his 
right hand and touched her on the shoulder. He had to. And 
then he withdrew his hand. "Never heard you talk so much 
in my life," he said. 

"Wasn't never so much reason," she said. 

He drove through the side streets and cleared the town, 



384 The Grapes of Wrath 

and then he crossed back. At an intersection the sign said 

"99." He turned south on it. 

"Well, anyways they never shoved us north," he said. "We 
still go where we want, even if we got to crawl for the 
right." 

The dim lights felt along the broad black highway ahead. 



Chapter Twenty-One 

THE moving, questing people were migrants now. 
Those families which had lived on a little piece of 
land, who had lived and died on forty acres, had 
eaten or starved on the produce of forty acres, had now the 
whole West to rove in. And they scampered about, looking 
for work; and the highways were streams of people, and the 
ditch banks were lines of people. Behind them more were 
coming. The great highways streamed with moving people. 
There in the Middle- and Southwest had lived a simple 
agrarian folk who had not changed with industry, who had 
not formed with machines or known the power and danger 
of machines in private hands. They had not grown up in the 
paradoxes of industry. Their senses were still sharp to the 
ridiculousness of the industrial life. 

And then suddenly the machines pushed them out and they 
swarmed on the highways. The movement changed them; 
the highways, the camps along the road, the fear of hunger 
and the hunger itself, changed them. The children without 
dinner changed them, the endless moving changed them. 
They were migrants. And the hostility changed them, 
welded them, united them hostility that made the little 
towns group and arm as though to repel an invader, squads 
with pick handles, clerks and storekeepers with shotguns, 
guarding the world against their own people. 
In the West there was panic when the migrants multiplied 

385 



386 The Grapes of Wrath 

on the highways. Men of property were terrified for their 
property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of 
the hungry. Men who had never wanted anything very much 
saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants. And the 
men of the towns and of the soft suburban country gathered 
to defend themselves; and they reassured themselves that 
they were good and the invaders bad, as a man must do be- 
fore he fights. They said, These goddamned Okies are dirty 
and ignorant. They're degenerate, sexual maniacs. These 
goddamned Okies are thieves. They'll steal anything. 
They've got no sense of property rights. 

And the latter was true, for how can a man without prop- 
erty know the ache of ownership? And the defending people 
said, They bring disease, they're filthy. We can't have them 
in the schools. They're strangers. How'd you like to have 
your sister go out with one of 'em? 

The local people whipped themselves into a mold of 
cruelty. Then they formed units, squads, and armed them 
armed them with clubs, with gas, with guns. We own the 
country. We can't let these Okies get out of hand. And the 
men who were armed did not own the land, but they thought 
they did. And the clerks who drilled at night owned nothing, 
and the little storekeepers possessed only a drawerful of 
debts. But even a debt is something, even a job is something. 
The clerk thought, I get fifteen dollars a week. S'pose a 
goddamn Okie would work for twelve? And the little store- 
keeper thought, How could I compete, with a debtless man? 

And the migrants streamed in on the highways and their 
hunger was in their eyes, and their need was in their eyes. 
They had no argument, no system, nothing but their num- 
bers and their needs. When there was work for a man, ten 



The Grapes of Wrath 387 

men fought for it fought with a low wage. If that fella'll 
work for thirty cents, I'll work for twenty-five. 

If he'll take twenty-five, I'll do it for twenty. 

No, me, I'm hungry. I'll work for fifteen. I'll work for 
food. The kids. You ought to see them. Little boils, like, 
comin' out, an' they can't run aroun'. Give 'em some wind- 
fall fruit, an' they bloated up. Me. I'll work for a little piece 
of meat. 

And this was good, for wages went down and prices 
stayed up. The great owners were glad and they sent out 
more handbills to bring more people in. And wages went 
down and prices stayed up. And pretty soon now we'll have 
serfs again. 

And now the great owners and the companies invented a 
new method. A great owner bought a cannery. And when 
the peaches and the pears were ripe he cut the price of fruit 
below the cost of raising it. And as cannery owner he paid 
himself a low price for the fruit and kept the price of canned 
goods up and took his profit. And the little farmers who 
owned no canneries lost their farms, and they were taken by 
the great owners, the banks, and the companies who also 
owned the canneries. As time went on, there were fewer 
farms. The little farmers moved into town for a while and 
exhausted their credit, exhausted their friends, their relatives. 
And then they too went on the highways. And the roads 
were crowded with men ravenous for work, murderous for 
work. 

And the companies, the banks worked at their own doom 
and they did not know it. The fields were fruitful, and starv- 
ing men moved on the roads. The granaries were full and 
the children of the poor grew up rachitic, and the pustules 



388 The Grapes of Wrath 

of pellagra swelled on their sides. The great companies did 
not know that the line between hunger and anger is a thin 
line. And money that might have gone to wages went for 
gas, for guns, for agents and spies, for blacklists, for drilling. 
On the highways the people moved like ants and searched 
for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment. 



Chapter Twenty-Two 

IT WAS late when Tom Joad drove along a country road 
looking for the Weedpatch camp. There were few lights 
in the countryside. Only a sky glare behind showed the 
direction of Bakersfield. The truck jiggled slowly along and 
hunting cats left the road ahead of it. At a crossroad there 
was a little cluster of white wooden buildings. 

Ma was sleeping in the seat and Pa had been silent and 
withdrawn for a long time. 

Tom said, "I don' know where she is. Maybe we'll wait 
till daylight an' ast somebody." He stopped at a boulevard 
signal and another car stopped at the crossing. Tom leaned 
out. "Hey, mister. Know where the big camp is at?" 

"Straight ahead." 

Tom pulled across into the opposite road. A few hundred 
yards, and then he stopped. A high wire fence faced the road, 
and a wide-gated driveway turned in. A little way inside the 
gate there was a small house with a light in the window. Tom 
turned in. The whole truck leaped into the air and crashed 
down again. 

"Jesus!" Tom said. "I didn' even see that hump." 

A watchman stood up from the porch and walked to the 
car. He leaned on the side. "You hit her too fast," he said. 
"Next time you'll take it easy." 

"What is it, for God's sake?" 

389 



390 The Grapes of Wrath 

The watchman laughed. "Well, a lot of kids play in here. 
You tell folks to go slow and they're liable to forget. But let 
'em hit that hump once and they don't forget." 

"Oh! Yeah. Hope I didn' break nothin'. Say you got any 
room here for us?" 

"Got one camp. How many of you?" 

Tom counted on his fingers. "Me an' Pa an' Ma, Al an' 
Rosasharn an' Uncle John an' Ruthie an' WinfieF. Them last 
is kids." 

"Well, I guess we can fix you. Got any camping stuff?" 

"Got a big tarp an' beds." 

The watchman stepped up on the running board. "Drive 
down the end of that line an' turn right. You'll be in Number 
Four Sanitary Unit." 

"What's that?" 

"Toilets and showers and wash tubs." 

Ma demanded, "You got wash tubsrunning water?" 

"Sure." 

"Oh! Praise God," said Ma. 

Tom drove down the long dark row of tents. In the sani- 
tary building a low light burned. "Pull in here," the watch- 
man said. "It's a nice place. Folks that had it just moved out." 

Tom stopped the car. "Right there?" 

"Yeah. Now you let the others unload while I sign you up. 
Get to sleep. The camp committee'll call on you in the morn- 
ing and get you fixed up." 

Tom's eyes drew down. "Cops?" he asked. 

The watchman laughed. "No cops. We got our own cops. 
Folks here elect their own cops. Come along." 

Al dropped off the truck and walked around. "Gonna 
stay here?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 391 

"Yeah," said Tom. "You an' Pa unload while I go to the 
office." 

"Be kinda quiet," the watchman said. "They's a lot of folks 
sleeping." 

Tom followed through the dark and climbed the office 
steps and entered a tiny room containing an old desk and a 
chair. The guard sat down at the desk and took out a form. 

"Name?" 

"Tom Joad." 

"That your father?" 

"Yeah." 

"His name?" 

"Tom Joad, too." 

The questions went on. Where from, how long in the 
State, w r hat work done. The watchman looked up. "I'm not 
nosy. We got to have this stuff." 

"Sure," said Tom. 

"Nowgot any money?" 

"Little bit." 

"You ain't destitute?" 

"Got a little. Why?" 

"Well, the camp site costs a dollar a week, but you can 
work it out, carrying garbage, keeping the camp clean stuff 
like that." 

"We'll work it out," said Tom. 

"You'll see the committee tomorrow. They'll show you 
how to use the camp and tell you the rules." 

Tom said, "Say what is this? What committee is this, 
anyways?" 

The watchman settled himself back, "Works pretty nice. 
There's five sanitary units. Each one elects a Central Com- 



392 The Grapes of Wrath 

mittee man. Now that committee makes the laws. What they 

say goes." 

"S'pose they get tough," Tom said. 

"Well, you can vote 'em out jus' as quick as you vote 'em 
in. They've done a fine job. Tell you what they did you 
know the Holy Roller preachers all the time follow the peo- 
ple around, preachin' an' takin' up collections? Well, they 
wanted to preach in this camp. And a lot of the older folks 
wanted them. So it was up to the Central Committee. They 
went into meeting and here's how they fixed it. They say, 
'Any preacher can preach in this camp. Nobody can take up 
a collection in this camp.' And it was kinda sad for the old 
folks, 'cause there hasn't been a preacher in since." 

Tom laughed and then he asked, "You mean to say the 
fellas that runs the camp is jus' fellas campin' here?" 

"Sure. And it works." 

"You said about cops " 

"Central Committee keeps order an' makes rules. Then 
there's the ladies. They'll call on your ma. They keep care 
of kids an' look after the sanitary units. If your ma isn't 
working, she'll look after kids for the ones that is working, 
an' when she gets a job why, there'll be others. They sew, 
and a nurse comes out an' teaches 'em. All kinds of things 
like that." 

"You mean to say they ain't no cops?" 

"No, sir. No cop can come in here without a warrant." 

"Well, s'pose a fella is jus' mean, or drunk an' quarrel- 
some. What then?" 

The watchman stabbed the blotter with a pencil. "Well, 
the first time the Central Committee warns him. And the sec- 
ond time they really warn him. The third time they kick him 
out of the camp." 



The Grapes of Wrath 393 

"God Almighty, I can't hardly believe it! Tonight the 
deputies an' them fellas with the little caps, they burned the 
camp out by the river." 

"They don't get in here," the watchman said. "Some nights 
the boys patrol the fences, 'specially dance nights." 

"Dance nights? Jesus Christ!" 

"We got the best dances in the county every Saturday 
night." 

"Well, for Christ's sake! Why ain't they more places like 
this?" 

The watchman looked sullen. "You'll have to find that out 
yourself. Go get some sleep." 

"Good night," said Tom. "Ma's gonna like this place. She 
ain't been treated decent for a long time." 

"Good night," the watchman said. "Get some sleep. This 
camp wakes up early." 

Tom walked down the street between the rows of tents. 
His eyes grew used to the starlight. He saw that the rows 
were straight and that there was no litter about the tents. The 
ground of the street had been swept and sprinkled. From the 
tents came the snores of sleeping people. The whole camp 
buzzed and snorted. Tom walked slowly. He neared Num- 
ber Four Sanitary Unit and he looked at it curiously, an un- 
painted building, low and rough. Under a roof, but open at 
the sides, the rows of wash trays. He saw the Joad truck 
standing near by, and went quietly toward it. The tarpaulin 
was pitched and the camp was quiet. As he drew near a 
figure moved from the shadow of the truck and came toward 
him. 

Ma said softly, "That you, Tom?" 

"Yeah." 

"Sh!" she said. "They're all asleep. They was tar'd out." 



394 The Grapes of Wrath 

"You ought to be asleep too," Tom said. 

"Well, I wanted to see ya. Is it awright?" 

"It's nice," Tom said. "I ain't gonna tell ya. They'll tell ya 
in the mornin'. Ya gonna like it." 

She whispered, "I heard they got hot water." 

"Yeah. Now you get to sleep. I don' know when you slep' 
las'." 

She begged, "What ain't you a-gonna tell me?" 

"I ain't. You get to sleep." 

Suddenly she seemed girlish. "How can I sleep if I got to 
think about what you ain't gonna tell me?" 

"No, you don't," Tom said. "First thing in the mornin' 
you get on your other dress an' thenyou'll find out." 

"I can't sleep with nothin* like that hangin' over me." 

"You got to," Tom chuckled happily. "You jus' got to." 

"Good night," she said softly; and she bent down and 
slipped under the dark tarpaulin. 

Tom climbed up over the tail-board of the truck. He lay 
down on his back on the wooden floor and he pillowed his 
head on his crossed hands, and his forearms pressed against 
his ears. The night grew cooler. Tom buttoned his coat over 
his chest and settled back again. The stars were clear and 
sharp over his head. 

It was still dark when he awakened. A small clashing noise 
brought him up from sleep. Tom listened and heard again the 
squeak of iron on iron. He moved stiffly and shivered in the 
morning air. The camp still slept. Tom stood up and looked 
over the side of the truck. The eastern mountains were blue- 
black, and as he watched, the light stood up faintly behind 
them, colored at the mountain rims with a washed red, then 
growing colder, grayer, darker, as it went up overhead, until 



The Grapes of Wrath 395 

at a place near the western horizon it merged with pure 
night. Down in the valley the earth was the lavender-gray of 
dawn. 

The clash of iron sounded again. Tom looked down the 
line of tents, only a little lighter gray than the ground. Be- 
side a tent he saw a flash of orange fire seeping from the 
cracks in an old iron stove. Gray smoke spurted up from a 
stubby smoke-pipe. 

Tom climbed over the truck side and dropped to the 
ground. He moved slowly toward the stove. He saw a girl 
working about the stove, saw that she carried a baby on her 
crooked arm, and that the baby was nursing, its head up 
under the girl's shirtwaist. And the girl moved about, poking 
the fire, shifting the rusty stove lids to make a better draft, 
opening the oven door; and all the time the baby sucked, and 
the mother shifted it deftly from arm to arm. The baby 
didn't interfere with her work or with the quick graceful- 
ness of her movements. And the orange fire licked out of the 
stove cracks and threw flickering reflections on the tent. 

Tom moved closer. He smelled frying bacon and baking 
bread. From the east the light grew swiftly. Tom came near 
to the stove and stretched out his hands to it. The girl looked 
at him and nodded, so that her two braids jerked. 

"Good mornin'," she said, and she turned the bacon in the 
pan. 

The tent flap jerked up and a young man came out and an 
older man followed him. They were dressed in new blue 
dungarees and in dungaree coats, stiff with filler, the brass 
buttons shining. They were sharp-faced men, and they 
looked much alike. The younger man had a dark stubble 
beard and the older man a white stubble beard. Their heads 
and faces were wet, their hair dripped, water stood in drops 



396 The Grapes of Wrath 

on their stiff beards. Their cheeks shone with dampness. To- 
gether they stood looking quietly into the lightening east. 
They yawned together and watched the light on the hill 
rims. And then they turned and saw Tom. 

"MorninV the older man said, and his face was neither 
friendly nor unfriendly. 

"Mornin'," said Tom. 

And, "Mornin'," said the younger man. 

The water slowly dried on their faces. They came to the 
stove and warmed their hands at it. 

The girl kept to her work. Once she set the baby down 
and tied her braids together in back with a string, and the 
two braids jerked and swung as she worked. She set tin cups 
on a big packing box, set tin plates and knives and forks out. 
Then she scooped bacon from the deep grease and laid it on 
a tin platter, and the bacon cricked and rustled as it grew 
crisp. She opened the rusty oven door and took out a square 
pan full of big high biscuits. 

When the smell of the biscuits struck the air both of the 
men inhaled deeply. The younger said, "Kee-rist!" softly. 

Now the older man said to Tom, "Had your breakfast?" 

"Well, no, I ain't. But my folks is over there. They ain't 
up. Need the sleep." 

"Well, set down with us, then. We got plenty thank 
God!" 

"Why, thank ya," Tom said. "Smells so darn good I 
couldn' say no." 

"Don't she?" the younger man asked. "Ever smell any- 
thing so good in ya life?" They marched to the packing box 
and squatted around it. 

"Workin* around here?" the young man asked. 



The Grapes of Wrath 397 

"Aim to," said Tom. "We jus' got in las' night. Ain't had 
no chance to look aroun'." 

"We had twelve days' work," the young man said. 

The girl, working by the stove, said, "They even got new 
clothes." Both men looked down at their stiff blue clothes, 
and they smiled a little shyly. The girl set out the platter of 
bacon and the brown, high biscuits and a bowl of bacon 
gravy and a pot of coffee, and then she squatted down by 
the box too. The baby still nursed, its head up under the 
girl's shirtwaist. 

They filled their plates, poured bacon gravy over the bis- 
cuits, and sugared their coffee. 

The older man filled his mouth full, and he chewed and 
chewed and gulped and swallowed. "God Almighty, it's 
good!" he said, and he filled his mouth again. 

The younger man said, "We been eatin' good for twelve 
days now. Never missed a meal in twelve daysnone of us. 
Workin' an' gettin' our pay an' eatin'." He fell to again, 
almost frantically, and refilled his plate. They drank the 
scalding coffee and threw the grounds to the earth and filled 
their cups again. 

There was color in the light now, a reddish gleam. The 
father and son stopped eating. They were facing to the east 
and their faces were lighted by the dawn. The image of the 
mountain and the light coming over it were reflected in their 
eyes. And then they threw the grounds from their cups to 
the earth, and they stood up together. 

"Got to git goin'," the older man said. 

The younger turned to Tom. "Lookie," he said. "We're 
layin' some pipe. T you want to walk over with us, maybe 
we could get you on." 



398 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom said, "Well, that's mighty nice of you. An' I sure 
thank ya for the breakfast." 

"Glad to have you," the older man said. "We'll try to git 
you workin' if you want." 

"Ya goddamn right I want," Tom said. "Jus' wait a minute. 
I'll tell my folks." He hurried to the Joad tent and bent over 
and looked inside. In the gloom under the tarpaulin he saw 
the lumps of sleeping figures. But a little movement started 
among the bedclothes. Ruthie came wriggling out like a 
snake, her hair down over her eyes and her dress wrinkled 
and twisted. She crawled carefully out and stood up. Her 
gray eyes were clear and calm from sleep, and mischief 
was not in them. Tom moved off from the tent and beckoned 
her to follow, and when he turned, she looked up at him. 

"Lord God, you're growin' up," he said. 

She looked away in sudden embarrassment. "Listen here," 
Tom said. "Don't you wake nobody up, but when they get 
up, you tell 'em I got a chancet at a job, an' I'm a-goin' for it. 
Tell Ma I et breakfas' with some neighbors. You hear that?" 

Ruthie nodded and turned her head away, and her eyes 
were little girl's eyes. "Don't you wake 'em up," Tom cau- 
tioned. He hurried back to his new friends. And Ruthie 
cautiously approached the sanitary unit and peeked in the 
open doorway. 

The two men were waiting when Tom came back. The 
young woman had dragged a mattress out and put the baby 
on it while she cleaned up the dishes. 

Tom said, "I wanted to tell my folks where-at I was. They 
wasn't awake." The three walked down the street between 
the tents. 

The camp had begun to come to life. At the new fires the 
women worked, slicing meat, kneading the dough for the 



The Grapes of Wrath 399 

morning's bread. And the men were stirring about the tents 
and about the automobiles. The sky was rosy now. In front 
of the office a lean old man raked the ground carefully. He 
so dragged his rake that the tine marks were straight and 
deep. 

"You're out early, Pa," the young man said as they went 
by. 

"Yep, yep. Got to make up my rent." 

"Rent, hell!" the young man said. "He was drunk last 
Sat'dy night. Sung in his tent all night. Committee give him 
work for it." They walked along the edge of the oiled road; 
a row of walnut trees grew beside the way. The sun shoved 
its edge over the mountains. 

Tom said, "Seems funny. I've et your food, an' I ain't toF 
you my name nor you ain't mentioned yours. I'm Tom 
Joad." 

The older man looked at him, and then he smiled a little. 
"You ain't been out here long?" 

"Hell, no! Jus' a couple days." 

"I knowed it. Funny, you git outa the habit a mentionin' 
your name. They's so goddamn many. Jist fellas. Well, sir 
I'm Timothy Wallace, an' this here's my boy Wilkie." 

"Proud to know ya," Tom said. "You been out here 
long?" 

"Ten months," Wilkie said. "Got here right on the tail a 
the floods las' year. Jesus! We had a time, a time! Goddamn 
near starve' to death." Their feet rattled on the oiled road. A 
truckload of men went by, and each man was sunk into him- 
self. Each man braced himself in the truck bed and scowled 
down. 

"Coin' out for the Gas Company," Timothy said. "They 
got a nice job of it." 



400 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I could of took our truck," Tom suggested. 

"No." Timothy leaned down and picked up a green wal- 
nut. He tested it with his thumb and then shied it at a black- 
bird sitting on a fence wire. The bird flew up, let the nut sail 
under it, and then settled back on the wire and smoothed its 
shining black feathers with its beak. 

Tom asked, "Ain't you got no car?" 

Both Wallaces were silent, and Tom, looking at their faces, 
saw that they were ashamed. 

Wilkie said, "Place we work at is on'y a mile up the 
road." 

Timothy said angrily, "No, we ain't got no car. We sol' 
our car. Had to. Run outa food, run outa ever'thing. Couldn' 
git no job. Fellas come aroun' ever' week, buy in' cars. Come 
aroun', an' if you're hungry, why, they'll buy your car. An' 
if you're hungry enough, they don't hafta pay nothin' for it. 
An' we was hungry enough. Give us ten dollars for her." 
He spat into the road. 

Wilkie said quietly, "I was in BakersfieP las' week. I seen 
her a-settin' in a use'-car lot settin' right there, an' seventy- 
five dollars was the sign on her." 

"We had to," Timothy said. "It was either us let 'em steal 
our car or us steal somepin from them. We ain't had to steal 
yet, but, goddamn it, we been close!" 

Tom said, "You know, 'fore we lef ' home, we heard they 
was plenty work out here. Seen han'bills askin' folks to come 
out." 

"Yeah," Timothy said. "We seen 'em too. An' they ain't 
much work. An' wages is comin' down all a time. I git so 
goddamn tired jus' figgerin' how to eat." 

"You got work now," Tom suggested. 

"Yeah, but it ain't gonna las' long. Workin' for a nice fella. 



The Grapes of Wrath 401 

Got a little place. Works 'longside of us. But, hellit ain't 
gonna las' no time." 

Tom said, "Why in hell you gonna git me on? I'll make 
it shorter. What you cuttin' your own throat for?" 

Timothy shook his head slowly. "I dunno. Got no sense, I 
guess. We figgered to get us each a hat. Can't do it, I guess. 
There's the place, off to the right there. Nice job, too. 
Gettin' thirty cents an hour. Nice frien'ly fella to work for." 

They turned off the highway and walked down a graveled 
road, through a small kitchen orchard; and behind the trees 
they came to a small white farm house, a few shade trees, and 
a barn; behind the barn a vineyard and a field of cotton. 
As the three men walked past the house a screen door 
banged, and a stocky sunburned man came down the back 
steps. He wore a paper sun helmet, and he rolled up his 
sleeves as he came across the yard. His heavy sunburned eye- 
brows were drawn down in a scowl. His cheeks were sun- 
burned a beef red. 

"Mornin', Mr. Thomas," Timothy said. 

"Morning." The man spoke irritably. 

Timothy said, "This here's Tom Joad. We wondered if 
you could see your way to put him on?" 

Thomas scowled at Tom. And then he laughed shortly, 
and his brows still scowled. "Oh, sure! I'll put him on. I'll 
put everybody on. Maybe I'll get a hundred men on." 

"We jus' thought" Timothy began apologetically. 

Thomas interrupted him. "Yes, I been thinkin' too." He 
swung around and faced them. "I've got some things to tell 
you. I been paying you thirty cents an hour that right?" 

"Why, sure, Mr. Thomas but " 

"And I been getting thirty cents' worth of work." His 
heavy hard hands clasped each other. 



402 The Grapes of Wrath 

"We try to give a good day of work." 

"Well, goddamn it, this morning you're getting twenty- 
five cents an hour, and you take it or leave it." The redness 
of his face deepened with anger. 

Timothy said, "We've give you good work. You said so 
yourself." 

"I know it. But it seems like I ain't hiring my own men 
any more." He swallowed. "Look," he said. "I got sixty-five 
acres here. Did you ever hear of the Farmers' Association?" 

"Why, sure." 

"Well, I belong to it. We had a meeting last night. Now, 
do you know who runs the Farmers' Association? I'll tell 
you. The Bank of the West. That bank owns most of this 
valley, and it's got paper on everything it don't own. So last 
night the member from the bank told me, he said, 'You're 
paying thirty cents an hour. You'd better cut it down to 
twenty-five.' I said, 'I've got good men. They're worth 
thirty.' And he says, 'It isn't that,' he says. 'The wage is 
twenty-five now. If you pay thirty, it'll only cause unrest. 
And by the way,' he says, 'you going to need the usual 
amount for a crop loan next year?' " Thomas stopped. His 
breath was panting through his lips. "You see? The rate is 
twenty-five cents and like it." 

"We done good work," Timothy said helplessly. 

"Ain't you got it yet? Mr. Bank hires two thousand men 
an' I hire three. I've got paper to meet. Now if you can figure 
some way out, by Christ, I'll take it! They got me." 

Timothy shook his head. "I don' know what to say." 

"You wait here." Thomas walked quickly to the house. 
The door slammed after him. In a moment he was back, and 
he carried a newspaper in his hand. "Did you see this? Here, 
I'll read it: 'Citizens, angered at red agitators, burn squatters* 



The Grapes of Wrath 403 

camp. Last night a band of citizens, infuriated at the agita- 
tion going on in a local squatters' camp, burned the tents to 
the ground and warned agitators to get out of the county.' " 

Tom began, "Why, I" and then he closed his mouth and 
was silent. 

Thomas folded the paper carefully and put it in his pocket. 
He had himself in control again. He said quietly, "Those 
men were sent out by the Association. Now I'm giving 'em 
away. And if they ever find out I told, I won't have a farm 
next year." 

"I jus' don't know what to say," Timothy said. "If they 
was agitators, I can see why they was mad." 

Thomas said, "I watched it a long time. There's always red 
agitators just before a pay cut. Always. Goddamn it, they 
got me trapped. Now, what are you going to do? Twenty- 
five cents?" 

Timothy looked at the ground. "I'll work," he said. 

"Me too," said Wilkie. 

Tom said, "Seems like I walked into somepin. Sure, I'll 
work. I got to work." 

Thomas pulled a bandanna out of his hip pocket and wiped 
his mouth and chin. "I don't know how long it can go on. I 
don't know how you men can feed a family on what you get 
now." 

"We can while we work," Wilkie said. "It's when we 
don't git work." 

Thomas looked at his watch. "Well, let's go out and dig 
some ditch. By God," he said, "I'm a-gonna tell you. You 
fellas live in that government camp, don't you?" 

Timothy stiffened. "Yes, sir." 

"And you have dances every Saturday night?" 

Wilkie smiled. "We sure do." 



404 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well, look out next Saturday night." 

Suddenly Timothy straightened. He stepped close. "What 
you mean? I belong to the Central Committee. I got to 
know." 

Thomas looked apprehensive. "Don't you ever tell I 
told." 

"What is it?" Timothy demanded. 

"Well, the Association don't like the government camps. 
Can't get a deputy in there. The people make their own laws, 
I hear, and you can't arrest a man without a warrant. Now if 
there was a big fight and maybe shooting a bunch of depu- 
ties could go in and clean out the camp." 

Timothy had changed. His shoulders were straight and his 
eyes cold. "What you mean?" 

"Don't you ever tell where you heard," Thomas said un- 
easily. "There's going to be a fight in the camp Saturday 
night. And there's going to be deputies ready to go in." 

Tom demanded, "Why, for God's sake? Those folks ain't 
bothering nobody." 

"I'll tell you why," Thomas said. "Those folks in the camp 
are getting used to being treated like humans. When they go 
back to the squatters' camps they'll be hard to handle." He 
wiped his face again. "Go on out to work now. Jesus, I hope 
I haven't talked myself out of my farm. But I like you peo- 
ple." 

Timothy stepped in front of him and put out a hard lean 
hand, and Thomas took it. "Nobody won't know who toP. 
We thank you. They won't be no fight." 

"Go on to work," Thomas said. "And it's twenty-five 
cents an hour." 

"We'll take it," Wilkie said, "from you." 

Thomas walked away toward the house. "I'll be out in a 



The Grapes of lath 405 

piece," he said. "You men get to work." The screen door 
slammed behind him. 

The three men walked out past the little white-washed 
barn, and along a field edge. They came to a long narrow 
ditch with sections of concrete pipe lying beside it. 

"Here's where we're a-workin'," Wilkie said. 

His father opened the barn and passed out two picks and 
three shovels. And he said to Tom, "Here's your beauty." 

Tom hefted the pick. "Jumping Jesus! If she don't feel 
good!" 

"Wait'll about 'leven o'clock," Wilkie suggested. "See how 
good she feels then." 

They walked to the end of the ditch. Tom took off his 
coat and dropped it on the dirt pile. He pushed up his cap 
and stepped into the ditch. Then he spat on his hands. The 
pick arose into the air and flasi J down. Tom grunted 
softly. The pick rose and fell, and the grunt came at the mo- 
ment it sank into the ground and loosened the soil. 

Wilkie said, "Yes, sir, Pa, we got here a first-grade muck- 
stick man. This here boy been married to that there little 
digger." 

Tom said, "I put in time (umph). Yes, sir, I sure did 
(umph). Put in my years (umph!). Kinda like the feel 
(umph!)" The soil loosened ahead of him. The sun cleared 
the fruit trees now and the grape leaves were golden green 
on the vines. Six feet along and Tom stepped aside and wiped 
his forehead. Wilkie came behind him. The shovel rose and 
fell and the dirt flew out to the pile beside the lengthening 
ditch. 

"I heard about this here Central Committee," said Tom. 
"So you're one of 'em." 

"Yes, sir," Timothy replied. "And it's a responsibility. All 



406 Th/ (grapes of Wrath 

them people. We're doin^tmr best. An' the people in the 
camp a-doin' their best. I wisht them big farmers wouldn' 
plague us so. I wisht they wouldn'." 

Tom climbed back into the ditch and Wilkie stood aside. 
Tom said, "How 'bout this fight (umph!) at the dance, he 
tol' about (umph)'? What they wanta do that for?" 

Timothy followed behind Wilkie, and Timothy's shovel 
beveled the bottom of the ditch and smoothed it ready for 
the pipe. "Seems like they got to drive us," Timothy said. 
"They're scairt we'll organize, I guess. An' maybe they're 
right. This here camp is a organization. People there look 
out for theirselves. Got the nicest strang band in these parts. 
Got a little charge account in the store for folks that's hun- 
gry. Fi' dollars you can git that much food an' the camp'll 
stan' good. We ain't never had no trouble with the law. I 
guess the big farmers is scairt of that. Can't throw us in jail 
why, it scares 'em. Figger maybe if we can gove'n our- 
selves, maybe we'll do other things." 

Tom stepped clear of the ditch and wiped the sweat out 
of his eyes. "You hear what that paper said 'bout agitators 
up north a Bakersfiel'?" 

"Sure," said Wilkie. "They do that all a time." 

"Well, I was there. They wasn't no agitators. What they 
call reds. What the hell is these reds anyways?" 

Timothy scraped a little hill level in the bottom of the 
ditch. The sun made his white bristle beard shine. "They's a 
lot a fellas wanta know what reds is." He laughed. "One of 
our boys foun' out." He patted the piled earth gently with 
his shovel. "Fella named Hines got 'bout thirty thousan' 
acres, peaches and grapes got a cannery an' a winery. Well, 
he's all a time talkin' about 'them goddamn reds.' 'God- 
damn reds is drivin' the country to ruin,' he says, an' 'We 



The Grapes of fath 407 

got to drive these here red bastattis out.' Well, they were a 
young fella jus' come out west here, an' he's listenin' one 
day. He kinda scratched his head an' he says, 'Mr. Hines, I 
ain't been here long. What is these goddamn reds?' Well, sir, 
Hines says, 'A red is any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty 
cents an hour when we're payin' twenty-five!' Well, this 
young fella he thinks about her, an' he scratches his head, an' 
he says, 'Well, Jesus, Mr. Hines. I ain't a son-of-a-bitch, but 
if that's what a red is why, I want thirty cents an hour. 
Everybody does. Hell, Mr. Hines, we're all reds.' " Timothy 
drove his shovel along the ditch bottom, and the solid earth 
shone where the shovel cut it. 

Tom laughed. u Me too, I guess." His pick arced up and 
drove down, and the earth cracked under it. The sweat 
rolled down his forehead and down the sides of his nose, and 
it glistened on his neck. "Damn it," he said, "a pick is a nice 
tool (umph), if you don' fight it (umph). You an' the pick 
(umph) workin' together (umph)" 

In line, the three men worked, and the ditch inched along, 
and the sun shone hotly down on them in the growing morn- 
ing. 

When Tom left her, Ruthie gazed in at the door of the 
sanitary unit for a while. Her courage was not strong with- 
out Winfield to boast for. She put a bare foot in on the con- 
crete floor, and then withdrew it. Down the line a woman 
came out of a tent and started a fire in a tin camp stove. 
Ruthie took a few steps in that direction, but she could not 
leave. She crept to the entrance of the Joad tent and looked 
in. On one side, lying on the ground, lay Uncle John, his 
mouth open and his snores bubbling spittily in his throat. Ma 
and Pa were covered with a comfort, their heads in, away 



408 Th^ Grapes of Wrath 

from the light. Al wasorf die far side from Uncle John, and 
his arm was flung over his eyes. Near the front of the tent 
Rose of Sharon and Winfield lay, and there was the space 
where Ruthie had been, beside Winfield. She squatted down 
and peered in. Her eyes remained on Winfield's tow head; 
and as she looked, the little boy opened his eyes and stared 
out at her, and his eyes were solemn. Ruthie put her finger to 
her lips and beckoned with her other hand. Winfield rolled 
his eyes over to Rose of Sharon. Her pink flushed face was 
near to him, and her mouth was open a little. Winfield care- 
fully loosened the blanket and slipped out. He crept out of 
the tent cautiously and joined Ruthie. "How long you been 
up?" he whispered. 

She led him away with elaborate caution, and when they 
were safe, she said, "I never been to bed. I was up all night." 

"You was not," Winfield said. "You're a dirty liar." 

"Awright," she said. "If I'm a liar I ain't gonna tell you 
nothin' that happened. I ain't gonna tell how the fella got 
killed with a stab knife an' how they was a bear come in an' 
took off a little chile." 

"They wasn't no bear," Winfield said uneasily. He 
brushed up his hair with his fingers and he pulled down his 
overalls at the crotch. 

"All right-they wasn't no bear," she said sarcastically. 
"An' they ain't no white things made outa dish-stuff, like in 
the catalogues." 

Winfield regarded her gravely. He pointed to the sanitary 
unit. "In there? " he asked. 

"I'm a dirty liar," Ruthie said. "It ain't gonna do me no 
good to tell stuff to you." 

"Le's go. look," Winfield said. 



The Grapes of Wrath 409 

"I already been," Ruthie said. "I already set on 'em. I even 
pee'd in one." 

"You never neither/' said Winfield. 

They went to the unit building, and that time Ruthie was 
not afraid. Boldly she led the way into the building. The 
toilets lined one side of the large room, and each toilet had 
its compartment with a door in front of it. The porcelain 
was gleaming white. Hand basins lined another wall, while 
on the third wall were four shower compartments. 

"There," said Ruthie. "Them's the toilets. I seen 'em in the 
catalogue." The children drew near to one of the toilets. 
Ruthie, in a burst of bravado, boosted her skirt and sat down. 
"I tol' you I been here," she said. And to prove it, there was 
a tinkle of water in the bowl. 

Winfield was embarrassed. His hand twisted the flushing 
lever. There was a roar of water. Ruthie leaped into the air 
and jumped away. She and Winfield stood in the middle of 
the room and looked at the toilet. The hiss of water contin- 
ued in it. 

"You done it," Ruthie said. "You went an' broke it. I seen 
you." 

"I never. Honest I never." 

"I seen you," Ruthie said. "You jus' ain't to be trusted with 
no nice stuff." 

Winfield sunk his chin. He looked up at Ruthie and his 
eyes filled with tears. His chin quivered. And Ruthie was 
instantly contrite. 

"Never you mind," she said. "I won't tell on you. We'll 
pretend like she was already broke. We'll pretend we ain't 
even been in here." She led him out of the building. 



410 The Grapes of Wrath 

The sun lipped over the mountain by now, shone on the 
corrugated-iron roofs of the five sanitary units, shone on the 
gray tents and on the swept ground of the streets between 
the tents. And the camp was waking up. The fires were burn- 
ing in camp stoves, in the stoves made of kerosene cans and 
of sheets of metal. The smell of smoke was in the air. Tent 
flaps were thrown back and people moved about in the 
streets. In front of the Joad tent Ma stood looking up and 
down the street. She saw the children and came over to them. 

"I was worryin'," Ma said. "I didn' know where you was." 

"We was jus' lookin'," Ruthie said. 

"Well, where's Tom? You seen him?" 

Ruthie became important. "Yes, ma'am. Tom, he got me up 
an' he toP me what to tell you." She paused to let her im- 
portance be apparent. 

"Well-what?" Ma demanded. 

"He said tell you" She paused again and looked to see 
that Winfield appreciated her position. 

Ma raised her hand, the back of it toward Ruthie. "What? " 

"He got work," said Ruthie quickly. "Went out to work." 
She looked apprehensively at Ma's raised hand. The hand 
sank down again, and then it reached out for Ruthie. Ma em- 
braced Ruthie's shoulders in a quick convulsive hug, and 
then released her. 

Ruthie stared at the ground in embarrassment, and 
changed the subject. "They got toilets over there," she said. 
"White ones." 

"You been in there?" Ma demanded. 

"Me an' Winfiel'," she said; and then, treacherously, 
"WinfieP, he bust a toilet." 

Winfield turned red. He glared at Ruthie. "She pee'd in 
one," he said viciously. 



The Grapes of Wrath 41 1 

Ma was apprehensive. "Now what did you do? You show 
me." She forced them to the door and inside. "Now what'd 
you do?" 

Ruthie pointed. "It was a-hissin' and a-swishin'. Stopped 
now." 

"Show me what you done/ 7 Ma demanded. 

Winfield went reluctantly to the toilet. "I didn' push it 
hard," he said. "I jus' had aholt of this here, an'" The 
swish of water came again. He leaped away. 

Ma threw back her head and laughed, while Ruthie and 
Winfield regarded her resentfully. "Tha's the way she 
works," Ma said. "I seen them before. When you finish, you 
push that." 

The shame of their ignorance was too great for the chil- 
dren. They went out the door, and they walked down the 
street to stare at a large family eating breakfast. 

Ma watched them out of the door. And then she looked 
about the room. She went to the shower closets and looked 
in. She walked to the wash basins and ran her finger over the 
white porcelain. She turned the water on a little and held her 
finger in the stream, and jerked her hand away when the 
water came hot. For a moment she regarded the basin, and 
then, setting the plug, she filled the bowl a little from the hot 
faucet, a little from the cold. And then she washed her hands 
in the warm water, and she washed her face. She was brush- 
ing water through her hair with her fingers when a step 
sounded on the concrete floor behind her. Ma swung around. 
An elderly man stood looking at her with an expression of 
righteous shock. 

He said harshly, "How you come in here?" 

Ma gulped, and she felt the water dripping from her chin 
and soaking through her dress. "I didn' know," she said 



4i2 The Grapes of Wrath 

apologetically. "I thought this here was for folks to use." 

The elderly man frowned on her. "For men folks," he said 
sternly. He walked to the door and pointed to a sign on it: 
MEN. "There," he said. "That proves it. Didn' you see 
that?" 

"No," Ma said in shame, "I never seen it. Ain't they a place 
where I can go?" 

The man's anger departed. "You jus' come?" he asked 
more kindly. 

"Middle of the night," said Ma. 

"Then you ain't talked to the Committee?" 

"What committee?" 

"Why, the Ladies' Committee." 

"No, I ain't." 

He said proudly, "The Committee'll call on you purty 
soon an' fix you up. We take care of folks that jus' come in. 
Now, if you want a ladies' toilet, you jus' go on the other 
side of the building. That side's yourn." 

Ma said uneasily, "Ya say a ladies' committee comin' to 
my tent?" 

He nodded his head. "Purty soon, I guess." 

"Thank ya," said Ma. She hurried out, and half ran to the 
tent. 

"Pa," she called. "John, git up! You, Al. Git up an' git 
washed." Startled sleepy eyes looked out at her. "All of you," 
Ma cried. "You git up an' git your face washed. An' comb 
your hair." 

Uncle John looked pale and sick. There was a red bruised 
place on his chin. 

Pa demanded, "What's the matter?" 

"The Committee," Ma cried. "They's a committee a 
ladies' committee a-comin' to visit. Git up now, an' git 



The Grapes of Wrath 413 

washed. An* while we was a-sleepin' an* a-snorin', Tom's 
went out an' got work. Git up, now." 

They came sleepily out of the tent. Uncle John staggered 
a little, and his face was pained. 

"Git over to that house and wash up," Ma ordered. "We 
got to get breakfus' an* be ready for the Committee." She 
went to a little pile of split wood in the camp lot. She started 
a fire and put up her cooking irons. "Pone," she said to her- 
self. "Pone an' gravy. That's quick. Got to be quick." She 
talked on to herself, and Ruthie and Winfield stood by, won- 
dering. 

The smoke of the morning fires arose all over the camp, 
and the mutter of talk came from all sides. 

Rose of Sharon, unkempt and sleepy-eyed, crawled out of 
the tent. Ma turned from the cornmeal she was measuring in 
fistfuls. She looked at the girl's wrinkled dirty dress, at her 
frizzled uncombed hair. "You got to clean up," she said 
briskly. "Go right over and clean up. You got a clean dress. 
I washed it. Git your hair combed. Git the seeds out a your 
eyes." Ma was excited. 

Rose of Sharon said sullenly, "I don' feel good. I wisht 
Connie would come. I don't feel like doin' nothin' 'thout 
Connie." 

Ma turned full around on her. The yellow cornmeal clung 
to her hands and wrists. "Rosasharn," she said sternly, "you 
git upright. You jus' been mopin' enough. They's a ladies' 
committee a-comin', an' the fambly ain't gonna be frawny 
when they get here." 

"But I don' feel good." 

Ma advanced on her, mealy hands held out. "Git," Ma said. 
"They's times when how you feel got to be kep' to your- 
self." 



414 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I'm a-goin' to vomit," Rose of Sharon whined. 

"Well, go an' vomit. 'Course you're gonna vomit. Ever'- 
body does. Git it over an' then you clean up, an' you wash 
your legs an' put on them shoes of yourn." She turned back 
to her work. "An' braid your hair," she said. 

A frying pan of grease sputtered over the fire, and it 
splashed and hissed when Ma dropped the pone in with a 
spoon. She mixed flour with grease in a kettle and added 
water and salt and stirred the gravy. The coffee began to 
turn over in the gallon can, and the smell of coffee rose from 
it. 

Pa wandered back from the sanitary unit, and Ma looked 
critically up. Pa said, "Ya say Tom's got work?" 

"Yes, sir. Went out 'fore we was awake. No\v look in 
that box an' get you some clean overhalls an' a shirt. An', Pa, 
I'm awful busy. You git in Ruthie an' Winfiel's ears. They's 
hot water. Will you do that? Scrounge aroun' in their ears 
good, an' their necks. Get 'em red an' shininV 

"Never seen you so bubbly," Pa said. 

Ma cried, "This here's the time the fambly got to get 
decent. Comin' acrost they wasn't no chancet. But now we 
can. Th'ow your dirty overhalls in the tent an' I'll wash 'em 



out." 



Pa went inside the tent, and in a moment he came out with 
pale blue, washed overalls and shirt on. And he led the sad 
and startled children toward the sanitary unit. 

Ma called after him, "Scrounge aroun' good in their ears." 

Uncle John came to the door of the men's side and looked 
out, and then he went back and sat on the toilet a long time 
and held his aching head in his hands. 

Ma had taken up a panload of brown pone and was drop- 
ping spoons of dough in the grease for a second pan when a 



The Grapes of Wrath 415 

shadow fell on the ground beside her. She looked over her 
shoulder. A little man dressed all in white stood behind her 
a man with a thin, brown, lined face and merry eyes. He 
w r as lean as a picket. His white clean clothes were frayed at 
the seams. He smiled at Ma. "Good morning," he said. 

Ma looked at his white clothes and her face hardened with 
suspicion. "Mornin'," she said. 

"Are you Mrs. Joad?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, I'm Jim Rawley. I'm camp manager. Just dropped 
by to see if everything's all right. Got everything you need?" 

Ma studied him suspiciously. "Yes," she said. 

Rawley said, "I was asleep when you came last night. 
Lucky we had a place for you." His voice was warm. 

Ma said simply, "It's nice. 'Specially them wash tubs." 

"You wait till the women get to washing. Pretty soon now. 
You never heard such a fuss. Like a meeting. Know what 
they did yesterday, Mrs. Joad? They had a chorus. Singing 
a hymn tune and rubbing the clothes all in time. That was 
something to hear, I tell you." 

The suspicion was going out of Ma's face. "Must a been 
nice. You're the boss?" 

"No," he said. "The people here worked me out of a job. 
They keep the camp clean, they keep order, they do every- 
thing. I never saw such people. They're making clothes in 
the meeting hall. And they're making toys. Never saw such 
people." 

Ma looked down at her dirty dress. "We ain't clean yet," 
she said. "You jus' can't keep clean a-travelin'." 

"Don't I know it," he said. He sniffed the air. "Say is 
that your coffee smells so good?" 

Ma smiled. "Does smell nice, don't it? Outside it always 



4i 6 The Grapes of Wrath 

smells nice." And she said proudly, "We'd take it in honor 'f 

you'd have some breakfus' with us." 

He came to the fire and squatted on his hams, and the last 
of Ma's resistance went down. "We'd be- proud to have ya," 
she said. "We ain't got much that's nice, but you're wel- 
come." 

The little man grinned at her. "I had my breakfast. But 
I'd sure like a cup of that coffee. Smells so good." 

"Why-why, sure." 

"Don't hurry yourself." 

Ma poured a tin cup of coffee from the gallon can. She 
said, "We ain't got sugar yet. Maybe we'll get some today. 
If you need sugar, it won't taste good." 

"Never use sugar," he said. "Spoils the taste of good 
coffee." 

"Well, I like a little sugar," said Ma. She looked at him 
suddenly and closely, to see how he had come so close so 
quickly. She looked for motive on his face, and found 
nothing but friendliness. Then she looked at the frayed 
seams on his white coat, and she was reassured. 

He sipped the coffee. "I guess the ladies'll be here to see 
you this morning." 

"We ain't clean," Ma said. "They shouldn't be comin' till 
we get cleaned up a little." 

"But they know how it is," the manager said. "They came 
in the same way. No, sir. The committees are good in this 
camp because they do know." He finished his coffee and 
stood up. "Well, I got to go on. Anything you want, why, 
come over to the office. I'm there all the time. Grand coffee. 
Thank you." He put the cup on the box with the others, 
waved his hand, and walked down the line of tents. And Ma 
heard him speaking to the people as he went. 



The Grapes of Wrath 417 

Ma put down her head and she fought with a desire to cry. 

Pa came back leading the children, their eyes still wet 
with pain at the ear-scrounging. They were subdued and 
shining. The sunburned skin on Winfield's nose was 
scrubbed off. "There," Pa said. "Got dirt an' two layers a 
skin. Had to almost lick 'em to make 'em stan' still." 

Ma appraised them. "They look nice," she said. "He'p 
yaself to pone an' gravy. We got to get stuff outa the way 
an' the tent in order." 

Pa served plates for the children and for himself. "Wonder 
where Tom got work?" 

"I dunno." 

"Well, if he can, we can." 

Al came excitedly to the tent. "What a place!" he said. He 
helped himself and poured coffee. "Know what a fella's 
doin'? He's buildin' a house trailer. Right over there, back a 
them tents. Got beds an' a stove ever'thing. Jus' live in her. 
By God, that's the way to live! Right where you stop 
tha's where you live." 

Ma said, "I rather have a little house. Boon's we can, I want 
a little house." 

Pa said, "Al after we've et, you an' me an' Uncle John'll 
take the truck an' go out lookin' for work." 

"Sure," said Al "I like to get a job in a garage if they's any 
jobs. Tha's what I really like. An' get me a little oP cut-down 
Ford. Paint her yella an' go a-kyoodlin' aroun'. Seen a purty 
girl down the road. Give her a big wink, too. Purty as hell, 



too." 



Pa said sternly, "You better get you some work 'fore you 
go a-tom-cattin'." 

Uncle John came out of the toilet and moved slowly near. 
Ma frowned at him. 



4i 8 The Grapes of Wrath 

"You ain't washed" she began, and then she saw how 
sick and weak and sad he looked. "You go on in the tent an' 
lay down," she said. "You ain't well." 

He shook his head. "No," he said. "I sinned, an' I got to 
take my punishment." He squatted down disconsolately and 
poured himself a cup of coffee. 

Ma took the last pones from the pan. She said casually, 
"The manager of the camp come an' set an' had a cup a 
coffee." 

Pa looked over slowly. "Yeah? What's he want awready?" 

"Jus* come to pass the time," Ma said daintily. "Jus' set 
down an' had coffee. Said he didn' get good coffee so often, 
an' smelt our'n." 

"What'd he want?" Pa demanded again. 

"Didn' want nothin'. Come to see how we was gettin' on." 

"I don' believe it," Pa said. "He's probably a-snootin' an' 
a-smellin' aroun'." 

"He was not!" Ma cried angrily. "I can tell a fella that's 
snootin' aroun' quick as the nex' person." 

Pa tossed his coffee grounds out of his cup. 

"You got to quit that," Ma said. "This here's a clean 
place." 

"You see she don't get so goddamn clean a fella can't live 
in her," Pa said jealously. "Hurry up, Al. We're goin' out 
lookin' for a job." 

Al wiped his mouth with his hand. "I'm ready," he said. 

Pa turned to Uncle John. "You a-comin'?" 

"Yes, I'm a-comin'." 

"You don't look so good." 

"I ain't so good, but I'm comin'." 

Al got in the truck. "Have to get gas," he said. He started 



The Grapes of Wrath 419 

the engine. Pa and Uncle John climbed in beside him and the 
truck moved away down the street. 

Ma watched them go. And then she took a bucket and 
went to the wash trays under the open part of the sanitary 
unit. She filled her bucket with hot water and carried it back 
to her camp. And she was washing the dishes in the bucket 
when Rose of Sharon came back. 

"I put your stuff on a plate," Ma said. And then she looked 
closely at the girl. Her hair was dripping and combed, and 
her skin was bright and pink. She had put on the blue dress 
printed with little white flowers. On her feet she wore the 
heeled slippers of her wedding. She blushed under Ma's gaze. 
"You had a bath," Ma said. 

Rose of Sharon spoke huskily. "I was in there when a lady 
come in an' done it. Know what you do? You get in a little 
stall-like, an' you turn handles, an' water comes a-floodin' 
down on you hot water or col' water, jus' like you want it 
an' I done it!" 

"I'm a-goin' to myself," Ma cried. "Jus' soon as I get 
finish' here. You show me how." 

"I'm a-gonna do it ever' day," the girl said. "An' that lady 
she seen me, an' she seen about the baby, an' know what 
she said? Said they's a nurse comes ever' week. An' I'm to go 
see that nurse an' she'll tell me jus' what to do so's the baby'll 
be strong. Says all the ladies here do that. An' I'm a-gonna do 
it." The words bubbled out. "An' know what? Las' week 
they was a baby borned an' the whole camp give a party, an' 
they give clothes, an' they give stuff for the baby even give 
a baby buggy wicker one. Wasn't new, but they give it a 
coat a pink paint, an' it was jus' like new. An' they give the 
baby a name, an' had a cake. Oh, Lord!" She subsided, 
breathing heavily. 



42 o The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma said, "Praise God, we come home to our own people. 
Pm a-gonna have a bath." 

"Oh, it's nice," the girl said. 

Ma wiped the tin dishes and stacked them. She said, 
"We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody. Grampa's gram- 
pa, he fit in the Revolution. We was farm people till the 
debt. And then them people. They done somepin to us. 
Ever' time they come seemed like they was a-whippin' me 
all of us. An' in Needles, that police. He done somepin to me, 
made me feel mean. Made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't 
ashamed. These folks is our folks is our folks. An' that 
manager, he come an' set an' drank coffee, an' he says, 'Mrs. 
Joad' this, an' 'Mrs. Joad' that an' 'How you gettin' on, Mrs. 
Joad?'" She stopped and sighed. "Why, I feel like people 
again." She stacked the last dish. She went into the tent and 
dug through the clothes box for her shoes and a clean dress. 
And she found a little paper package with her earrings in it. 
As she went past Rose of Sharon, she said, "If them ladies 
comes, you tell 'em I'll be right back." She disappeared 
around the side of the sanitary unit. 

Rose of Sharon sat down heavily on a box and regarded 
her wedding shoes, black patent leather and tailored black 
bows. She wiped the toes with her finger and wiped her 
finger on the inside of her skirt. Leaning down put a pressure 
on her growing abdomen. She sat up straight and touched 
herself with exploring fingers, and she smiled a little as she 
did it. 

Along the road a stocky woman walked, carrying an apple 
box of dirty clothes toward the wash tubs. Her face was 
brown with sun, and her eyes were black and intense. She 
wore a great apron, made from a cotton bag, over her ging- 
ham dress, and men's brown oxfords were on her feet. She 



The Grapes of Wrath 421 

saw that Rose of Sharon caressed herself, and she saw the 
little smile on the girl's face. 

"So!" she cried, and she laughed with pleasure. "What you 
think it's gonna be?" 

Rose of Sharon blushed and looked down at the ground, 
and then peeked up, and the little shiny black eyes of the 
woman took her in. "I don' know," she mumbled. 

The woman plopped the apple box on the ground. "Got a 
live tumor," she said, and she cackled like a happy hen. 
"Which'd you ruther?" she demanded. 

"I dunno boy, I guess. Sureboy." 

"You jus' come in, didn' ya?" 

"Las' night-late." 

"Gonna stay?" 

"I don' know. 'F we can get work, guess we will." 

A shadow crossed the woman's face, and the little black 
eyes grew fierce. " 'F you can git work. That's what we all 
say." 

"My brother got a job already this mornin'." 

"Did, huh? Maybe you're lucky. Look out for luck. You 
can't trus' luck." She stepped close. "You can only git one 
kind a luck. Cain't have more. You be a good girl," she said 
fiercely. "You be good. If you got sin on you you better 
watch out for that there baby." She squatted down in front 
of Rose of Sharon. "They's scandalous things goes on in this 
here camp," she said darkly. "Ever' Sat'dy night they's 
dancin', an' not only squar' dancin', neither. They's some 
does clutch-an'-hug dancin'! I seen 'em." 

Rose of Sharon said guardedly, "I like dancin', squar' 
dancin'." And she added virtuously, "I never done that other 
kind." 

The brown woman nodded her head dismally. "Well, 



422 The Grapes of Wrath 

some does. An' the Lord ain't lettin' it get by, neither; an' 

don' you think He is." 

"No, ma'am," the girl said softly. 

The woman put one brown wrinkled hand on Rose of 
Sharon's knee, and the girl flinched under the touch. "You 
let me warn you now. They ain't but a few deep down Jesus- 
lovers lef. Ever' Sat'dy night when that there strang ban' 
starts up an' should be a-playin' hymnody, they're a-reelin' 
yes, sir, a-reelin'. I seen 'em. Won' go near, myself, nor I 
don' let my kin go near. They's clutch-an'-hug, I tell ya." 
She paused for emphasis and then said, in a hoarse whisper, 
"They do more. They give a stage play." She backed away 
and cocked her head to see how Rose of Sharon would take 
such a revelation. 

"Actors?" the girl said in awe. 

"No, sir!" the woman exploded. "Not actors ', not them 
already damn' people. Our own kinda folks. Our own peo- 
ple. An' they was little children didn' know no better, in it, 
an' they was pertendin' to be stuff they wasn't. I didn' go 
near. But I hearn 'em talkin' what they was a-doin'. The devil 
was jus' a-struttin' through this here camp." 

Rose of Sharon listened, her eyes and mouth open. "Oncet 
in school we give a Chris' chile play Christmus." 

"Well I ain' sayin' tha's bad or good. They's good folks 
thinks a Chris' chile is awright. But well, I wouldn' care to 
come right out flat an' say so. But this here wasn' no Chris' 
chile. This here was sin an' delusion an' devil stuff. Struttin' 
an' paradin' an' speakin' like they're somebody they ain't. 
An' dancin' an' clutchin' an' a-huggin'." 

Rose of Sharon sighed. 

"An not jus' a few, neither," the brown woman went on. 



The Grapes of Wrath 423 

"Gettin' so's you can almos' count the deep-down lamb- 
blood folks on your toes. An' don' you think them sinners is 
puttin' nothin' over on God, neither. No, sir, He's a-chalkin' 
'em up sin by sin, an' He's drawin' His line an' addin' 'em up 
sin by sin. God's a-watchin', an' I'm a-watchin'. He's aw- 
ready smoked two of 'em out." 

Rose of Sharon panted, "Has?" 

The brown woman's voice was rising in intensity. "I seen 
it. Girl a-carryin' a little one, jes' like you. An' she play- 
acted, an' she hug-danced. And" the voice grew bleak and 
ominous "she thinned out and she skinnied out, an' she 
dropped that baby, dead." 

"Oh, my!" The girl was pale. 

"Dead and bloody. 'Course nobody wouldn' speak to her 
no more. She had a go away. Can't tech sin 'thout catchin' it. 
No, sir. An' they was another, done the same thing. An' she 
skinnied out, an' know what? One night she was gone. An' 
two days, she's back. Says she was visitin'. But she ain't got 
no baby. Know what I think? I think the manager, he took 
her away to drop her baby. He don' believe in sin. ToP me 
hisself. Says the sin is bein' hungry. Says the sin is bein' cold. 
Says I tell ya, he toP me hisself can't see God in them 
things. Says them girls skinnied out 'cause they dkJn* git 
'nough food. Well, I fixed him up." She rose to her feet and 
stepped back. Her eyes were sharp. She pointed a rigid fore- 
finger in Rose of Sharon's face. "I says, 'Git back!' I says. 
I says, 'I knowed the devil was rampagin' in this here camp. 
Now I know who the devil is. Git back, Satan,' I says. An', 
by Chris', he got back! Tremblin' he was, an' sneaky. Says, 
'Please!' Says, 'Please don' make the folks unhappy.' I says, 
'Unhappy? How 'bout their soul? How 'bout them dead 



424 The Grapes of Wrath 

babies an' them poor sinners mint 'count of play-actin'?' He 
jes' looked, an' he give a sick grin an' went away. He 
knowed when he met a real testifier to the Lord. I says, Tm 
a-helpin' Jesus watch the goin's-on. An' you an' them other 
sinners ain't gittin' away with it." She picked up her box of 
dirty clothes. "You take heed. I warned you. You take heed 
a that pore chile in your belly an' keep outa sin." And she 
strode away titanically, and her eyes shone with virtue. 

Rose of Sharon watched her go, and then she put her head 
down on her hands and whimpered into her palms. A soft 
voice sounded beside her. She looked up, ashamed. It was the 
little white-clad manager. "Don't worry," he said. "Don't 
you worry." 

Her eyes blinded with tears. "But I done it," she cried. "I 
hug-danced. I didn' tell her. I done it in Sallisaw. Me an' 
Connie." 

"Don't worry," he said. 

"She says I'll drop the baby." 

"I know she does. I kind of keep my eye on her. She's a 
good woman, but she makes people unhappy." 

Rose of Sharon sniffled wetly. "She knowed two girls los' 
their baby right in this here camp." 

The manager squatted down in front of her. "Look!" he 
said. "Listen to me. I know them too. They were too hungry 
and too tired. And they worked too hard. And they rode on 
a truck over bumps. They were sick. It wasn't their fault." 

"But she said " 

"Don't worry. That woman likes to make trouble." 

"But she says you was the devil." 

"I know she does. That's because I won't let her make 
people miserable." He patted her shoulder. "Don't you 
worry. She doesn't know." And he walked quickly away. 



The Grapes of Wrath 425 

Rose of Sharon looked after him; his lean shoulders jerked 
as he walked. She was still watching his slight figure when 
Ma came back, clean and pink, her hair combed and wet, and 
gathered in a knot. She wore her figured dress and the old 
cracked shoes; and the little earrings hung in her ears. 

"I done it," she said. "I stood in there an' let warm water 
come a-floodin' an' a-flowin' down over me. An' they was a 
lady says you can do it ever' day if you want. An' them 
ladies' committee come yet?" 

"Uh-uh!" said the girl. 

"An' you jus' set there an' didn' redd up the camp none!" 
Ma gathered up the tin dishes as she spoke. "We got to get in 
shape," she said. "Come on, stir! Get that sack and kinda 
sweep along the groun'." She picked up the equipment, put 
the pans in their box and the box in the tent. "Get them beds 
neat," she ordered. "I tell ya I ain't never felt nothin' so 
nice as that water." 

Rose of Sharon listlessly followed orders. "Ya think 
Connie'll be back today?" 

"Maybemaybe not. Can't tell." 

"You sure he knows where-at to come?" 

"Sure." 

"Ma ya don' think they could a killed him when they 
burned-?" 

"Not him," Ma said confidently. "He can travel when he 
wants jackrabbit-quick an' fox-sneaky." 

"I wisht he'd come." 

"He'll come when he comes." 

"Ma " 

"I wisht you'd get to work." 

"Well, do you think dancin' an' play-actin' is sins an'll 
make me drop the baby?" 



426 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma stopped her work and put her hands on her hips. 
"Now what you talkin' about? You ain't done no play- 



actin'." 



"Well, some folks here done it, an' one girl, she dropped 
her baby dead an' bloody, like it was a judgment." 

Ma stared at her. "Who toP you?" 

"Lady that come by. An' that little fella in white clothes, 
he come by an' he says that ain't what done it." 

Ma frowned. "Rosasharn," she said, "you stop pickin' at 
yourself. You're jest a-teasin' yourself up to cry. I don' 
know what's come at you. Our folks ain't never did that. 
They took what come to 'em dry-eyed. I bet it's that Connie 
give you all them notions. He was jes' too big for his over- 
halls." And she said sternly, "Rosasharn, you're jest one per- 
son, an' they's a lot of other folks. You git to your proper 
place. I knowed people built theirself up with sin till they 
figgered they was big mean shucks in the sight a the Lord." 

"But, Ma " 

"No. Jes' shut up an' git to work. You ain't big enough or 
mean enough to worry God much. An' I'm gonna give you 
the back a my han' if you don' stop this pickin' at your- 
self." She swept the ashes into the fire hole and brushed the 
stones on its edge. She saw the committee coming along the 
road. "Git workin'," she said. "Here's the ladies comin'. Git 
a-workin' now, so's I can be proud." She didn't look again, 
but she was conscious of the approach of the committee. 

There could be no doubt that it was the committee; three 
ladies, washed, dressed in their best clothes: a lean woman 
with stringy hair and steel-rimmed glasses, a small stout lady 
with curly gray hair and a small sweet mouth, and a mam- 
moth lady, big of hock and buttock, big of breast, muscled 



The Grapes of Wrath 427 

like a dray-horse, powerful and sure. And the committee 
walked down the road with dignity. 

Ma managed to have her back turned when they arrived. 
They stopped, wheeled, stood in a line. And the great 
woman boomed, "Mornin', Mis' Joad, ain't it?" 

Ma whirled around as though she had been caught off 
guard. "Why, yesyes. How'd you know my name?" 

"We're the committee," the big woman said. "Ladies' 
Committee of Sanitary Unit Number Four. We got your 
name in the office." 

Ma flustered, "We ain't in very good shape yet. I'd be 
proud to have you ladies come an' set while I make up some 
coffee." 

The plump committee woman said, "Give our names, 
Jessie. Mention our names to Mis' Joad. Jessie's the Chair," 
she explained, 

Jessie said formally, "Mis' Joad, this here's Annie Little- 
field an' Ella Summers, an' I'm Jessie Bullitt." 

"I'm proud to make your acquaintance," Ma said. "Won't 
you set down? They ain't nothin' to set on yet," she added. 
"But I'll make up some coffee." 

"Oh, no," said Annie formally. "Don't put yaself out. We 
jes' come to call an' see how you was, an' try to make you 
feel at home." 

Jessie Bullitt said sternly, "Annie, I'll thank you to remem- 
ber I'm Chair." 

"Oh! Sure, sure. But next week I am." 

"Well, you wait'll next week then. We change ever* 
week," she explained to Ma. 

"Sure you wouldn' like a little coffee?" Ma asked help- 
lessly. 



428 The Grapes of Wrath 

"No, thank you." Jessie took charge. "We gonna show 
you 'bout the sanitary unit fust, an' then if you wanta, we'll 
sign you up in the Ladies' Club an' give you duty. 'Course 
you don' have to join." 

"Doesdoes it cost much?" 

"Don't cost nothing but work. An' when you're knowed, 
maybe you can be 'lected to this committee," Annie inter- 
rupted. "Jessie, here, is on the committee for the whole 
camp. She's a big committee lady." 

Jessie smiled with pride. " 'Lected unanimous," she said. 
"Well, Mis' Joad, I guess it's time we toP you 'bout how the 
camp runs." 

Ma said, "This here's my girl, Rosasharn." 

"How do," they said. 

"Better come 'long too." 

The huge Jessie spoke, and her manner was full of dignity 
and kindness, and her speech was rehearsed. 

"You shouldn' think we're a-buttin' into your business, 
Mis' Joad. This here camp got a lot of stuff everybody uses. 
An' we got rules we made ourself. Now we're a-goin' to the 
unit. That there, ever'body uses, an' ever'body got to take 
care of it." They strolled to the unroofed section where the 
wash trays were, twenty of them. Eight were in use, the 
women bending over, scrubbing the clothes, and the piles 
of wrung-out clothes were heaped on the clean concrete 
floor. "Now you can use these here any time you want," 
Jessie said. "The on'y thing is, you got to leave 'em 
clean." 

The women who were washing looked up with interest. 
Jessie said loudly, "This here's Mis' Joad an' Rosasharn, come 
to live." They greeted Ma in a chorus, and Ma made a dumpy 
little bow at them and said, "Proud to meet ya." 



The Grapes of Wrath 429 

Jessie led the committee into the toilet and shower room. 

"I been here awready," Ma said. "I even took a bath." 

"That's what they're for," Jessie said. "An' they's the same 
rule. You got to leave 'em clean. Ever' week they's a new 
committee to swab out oncet a day. Maybe you'll git on that 
committee. You got to bring your own soap." 

"We got to get some soap," Ma said. "We're all out." 

Jessie's voice became almost reverential. "You ever used 
this here kind?" she asked, and pointed to the toilets. 

"Yes, ma'am. Right this mornin'." 

Jessie sighed. "Tha's good." 

Ella Summers said, "Jes' las' week " 

Jessie interrupted sternly, "Mis' Summers I'll tell." 

Ella gave ground. "Oh, awright." 

Jessie said, "Las' week, when you was Chair, you done it 
all. I'll thank you to keep out this week." 

"Well, tell what that lady done," Ella said. 

"Well," said Jessie, "it ain't this committee's business to go 
a-blabbin', but I won't pass no names. Lady come in las' 
week, an' she got in here 'fore the committee got to her, an' 
she had her oP man's pants in the toilet, an' she says, 'It's too 
low, an' it ain't big enough. Bust your back over her,' she 
says. 'Why couldn' they stick her higher?' " The committee 
smiled superior smiles. 

Ella broke in, "Says, 'Can't put 'nough in at oncet.' " And 
Ella weathered Jessie's stern glance. 

Jessie said, "We got our troubles with toilet paper. Rule 
says you can't take none away from here." She clicked her 
tongue sharply. "Whole camp chips in for toilet paper." 
For a moment she was silent, and then she confessed. "Num- 
ber Four is usin' more than any other. Somebody's a-stealin' 
it. Come up in general ladies' meetin'. 'Ladies' side, Unit 



430 The Grapes of Wrath 

Number Four is usin' too much.' Come right up in meetin'!" 

Ma was following the conversation breathlessly. "Stealin' 
it what for?" 

"Well," said Jessie, "we had trouble before. Las' time they 
was three little girls cuttin' paper dolls out of it. Well, we 
caught them. But this time we don't know. Hardly put a roll 
out 'fore it's gone. Come right up in meetin'. One lady says 
we oughta have a little bell that rings ever' time the roll turns 
oncet. Then we could count how many ever'body takes." She 
shook her head. "I jes' don' know," she said. "I been worried 
all week. Somebody's a-stealin' toilet paper from Unit Four." 

From the doorway came a whining voice, "Mis' Bullitt." 
The committee turned. "Mis' Bullitt, I hearn what you 
says." A flushed, perspiring woman stood in the doorway. 
"I couldn' git up in meetin', Mis' Bullitt. I jes' couldn'. 
They'd a-laughed or somepin." 

"What you talkin' about?" Jessie advanced. 

"Well, we-all maybeit's us. But we ain't a-stealin', Mis' 
Bullitt." 

Jessie advanced on her, and the perspiration beaded out on 
the flustery confessor. "We can't he'p it, Mis' Bullitt." 

"Now you tell what you're tellin'," Jessie said. "This here 
unit's suffered a shame 'bout that toilet paper." 

"All week, Mis' Bullitt. We couldn' he'p it. You know I 
got five girls." 

"What they been a-doin' with it?" Jessie demanded 
ominously. 

"Jes' usin' it. Hones', jes' usin' it." 

"They ain't got the right! Four-five sheets is enough. 
What's the matter' th 'em?" 

The confessor bleated, "Skitters. All five of 'em. We been 
low on money. They et green grapes. They all five got the 



The Grapes of Wrath 431 

howlin' skitters. Run out ever' ten minutes." She defended 
them, "But they ain't stealin' it." 

Jessie sighed. "You should a toP." she said. "You got to tell. 
Here's Unit Four sufferin' shame 'cause you never tol'. Any- 
body can git the skitters." 

The meek voice whined, "I jes' can't keep 'em from eatin' 
them green grapes. An' they're a-gettin' worse all a time." 

Ella Summers burst out, "The Aid. She oughta git the 
Aid." 

"Ella Summers," Jessie said, "Fm a-tellin' you for the las' 
time, you ain't the Chair." She turned back to the raddled 
little woman. "Ain't you got no money, Mis' Joyce?" 

She looked ashamedly down. "No, but we might git work 
any time." 

"Now you hoF up your head," Jessie said. "That ain't no 
crime. You jes' waltz right over t' the Weedpatch store an' 
git you some grocteries. The camp got twenty dollars' credit 
there. You git yourself fi' dollars' worth. An' you kin pay it 
back to the Central Committee when you git work. Mis' 
Joyce, you knowed that," she said sternly. "How come you 
let your girls git hungry?" 

"We ain't never took no charity," Mrs. Joyce said. 

"This ain't charity, an' you know it," Jessie raged. "We 
had all that out. They ain't no charity in this here camp. We 
won't have no charity. Now you waltz right over an' git you 
some grocteries, an' you bring the slip to me." 

Mrs. Joyce said timidly, "S'pose we can't never pay? We 
ain't had work for a long time." 

"You'll pay if you can. If you can't, that ain't none of our 
business, an' it ain't your business. One fella went away, an' 
two months later he sent back the money. You ain't got the 
right to let your girls git hungry in this here camp." 



432 The Grapes of Wrath 

Mrs. Joyce was cowed. "Yes, ma'am," she said. 

"Git you some cheese for them girls," Jessie ordered. 
"That'll take care a them skitters." 

"Yes, ma'am." And Mrs. Joyce scuttled out of the door. 

Jessie turned in anger on the committee. "She got no right 
to be stiff-necked. She got no right, not with our own 
people." 

Annie Littlefield said, "She ain't been here long. Maybe she 
don't know. Maybe she's took charity one time-another. 
Nor," Annie said, "don't you try to shut me up, Jessie. I got 
a right to pass speech." She turned half to Ma. "If a body's 
ever took charity, it makes a burn that don't come out. This 
ain't charity, but if you ever took it, you don't forget it. I 
bet Jessie ain't ever done it." 

"No, I ain't," said Jessie. 

"Well, I did," Annie said. "Las' winter; an' we was a- 
starvin' me an' Pa an' the little fellas. An' it was a-rainin'. 
Fella toP us to go to the Salvation Army." Her eyes grew 
fierce. "We was hungry they made us crawl for our dinner. 
They took our dignity. They I hate 'em! An' maybe Mis' 
Joyce took charity. Maybe she didn' know this ain't charity. 
Mis' Joad, we don't allow nobody in this camp to build their- 
self up that-a-way. We don't allow nobody to give nothing 
to another person. They can give it to the camp, an' the camp 
can pass it out. We won't have no charity!" Her voice was 
fierce and hoarse. "I hate 'em," she said. "I ain't never seen 
my man beat before, but them them Salvation Army done 
it to 'im." 

Jessie nodded. "I heard," she said softly, "I heard. We got 
to take Mis' Joad aroun'." 

Ma said, "It sure is nice." 

"Le's go to the sewin' room," Annie suggested. "Got two 



The Grapes of Wrath 433 

machines. They's a-quiltin', an' they're makin' dresses. You 
might like ta work over there." 

When the committee called on Ma, Ruthie and Winfield 
faded imperceptibly back out of reach. 

"Whyn't we go along an' listen?" Winfield asked. 

Ruthie gripped his arm. "No," she said. "We got washed 
for them sons-a-bitches. I ain't goin' with 'em." 

Winfield said, "You toP on me 'bout the toilet. I'm a-gonna 
tell what you called them ladies." 

A shadow of fear crossed Ruthie's face. "Don' do it. I toP 
'cause I knowed you didn' really break it." 

"You did not," said Winfield. 

Ruthie said, "Le's look aroun'." They strolled down the 
line of tents, peering into each one, gawking self-consciously. 
At the end of the unit there was a level place on which a 
croquet court had been set up. Half a dozen children played 
seriously. In front of a tent an elderly lady sat on a bench and 
watched. Ruthie and Winfield broke into a trot. "Leave us 
play," Ruthie cried. "Leave us get in." 

The children looked up. A pig-tailed little girl said, "Nex' 
game you kin." 

"I wanta play now," Ruthie cried. 

"Well, you can't. Not till nex' game." 

Ruthie moved menacingly out on the court. "I'm a-gonna 
play." The pig-tails gripped her mallet tightly. Ruthie sprang 
at her, slapped her, pushed her, and wrested the mallet from 
her hands. "I says I was gonna play," she said triumphantly. 

The elderly lady stood up and walked onto the court. 
Ruthie scowled fiercely and her hands tightened on the mal- 
let. The lady said, "Let her playlike you done with Ralph 
las' week." 



434 The Grapes of Wrath 

The children laid their mallets on the ground and trooped 
silently off the court. They stood at a distance and looked on 
with expressionless eyes. Ruthie watched them go. Then she 
hit a ball and ran after it. "Come on, WinfieP. Get a stick," 
she called. And then she looked in amazement. Winfield had 
joined the watching children, and he too looked at her with 
expressionless eyes. Defiantly she hit the ball again. She 
kicked up a great dust. She pretended to have a good time. 
And the children stood and watched. Ruthie lined up two 
balls and hit both of them, and she turned her back on the 
watching eyes, and then turned back. Suddenly she advanced 
on them, mallet in hand. "You come an' play," she demanded. 
They moved silently back at her approach. For a moment 
she stared at them, and then she flung down the mallet 
and ran crying for home. The children walked back on the 
court. 

Pigtails said to Winfield, "You can git in the nex' game." 

The watching lady warned them, "When she comes back 

an' wants to be decent, you let her. You was mean yourself, 

Amy." The game went on, while in the Joad tent Ruthie 

wept miserably. 

The truck moved along the beautiful roads, past orchards 
where the peaches were beginning to color, past vineyards 
with the clusters pale and green, under lines of walnut trees 
whose branches spread half across the road. At each 
entrance-gate Al slowed; and at each g^te there was a sign: 
"No help wanted. No trespassing." 

Al said, "Pa, they's boun' to be work when them fruits gets 
ready. Funny placethey tell ya they ain't no work 'fore 
you ask 'em." He drove slowly on. 



The Grapes of Wrath 435 

Pa said, "Maybe we could go in anyways an' ask if they 
know where they's any work. Might do that." 

A man in blue overalls and a blue shirt walked along the 
edge of the road. Al pulled up beside him. "Hey, mister," Al 
said. "Know where they's any work?" 

The man stopped and grinned, and his mouth was vacant 
of front teeth. "No," he said. "Do you? I been walkin' all 
week, an' I can't tree none." 

"Live in that gov'ment camp?" Al asked. 

"Yeah!" 

"Come on, then. Git up back, an' we'll all look." The man 
climbed over the side-boards and dropped in the bed. 

Pa said, "I ain't got no hunch we'll find work. Guess we 
got to look, though. We don't even know where-at to look." 

"Shoulda talked to the fellas in the camp," Al said. "How 
you feelin', Uncle John?" 

"I ache," said Uncle John. "I ache all over, an' I got it 
comin'. I oughta go away where I won't bring down punish- 
ment on my own folks." 

Pa put his hand on John's knee. "Look here," he said, 
"don' you go away. We're droppin' folks all the time 
Grampa an' Granma dead, Noah an' Connie run out, an' the 
preacher in jail." 

"I got a hunch we'll see that preacher agin," John said. 

Al fingered the ball on the gear-shift lever. "You don' feel 
good enough to have no hunches," he said. "The hell with it. 
Le's go back an' talk, an' find out where they's some work. 
We're jus' huntin' skunks under water." He stopped the 
truck and leaned out the window and called back, "Hey! 
Lookie! We're a-goin' back to the camp an' try an' see where 
they's work. They ain't no use burnin' gas like this." 



436 The Grapes of Wrath 

The man leaned over the truck side. "Suits me," he said. 
"My dogs is wore clean up to the ankle. An' I ain't even got 
a nibble." 

Al turned around in the middle of the road and headed 
back. 

Pa said, "Ma's gonna be puny hurt, 'specially when Tom 
got work so easy/' 

"Maybe he never got none," Al said. "Maybe he jus' went 
lookin', too. I wisht I could get work in a garage. I'd learn 
that stuff quick, an' I'd like it." 

Pa grunted, and they drove back toward the camp in 
silence. 

When the committee left, Ma sat down on a box in front 
of the Joad tent, and she looked helplessly at Rose of Sharon. 
"Well" she said, "well I ain't been so perked up in years. 
Wasrtt them ladies nice?" 

"I get to work in the nursery," Rose of Sharon said. "They 
tol* me. I can find out all how to do for babies, an' then I'll 
know." 

Ma nodded in wonder. "Wouldn' it be nice if the menf oiks 
all got work?" she asked. "Them a-workin', an' a little 
money comin' in?" Her eyes wandered into space. "Them 
a-workin', an' us a-workin' here, an' all them nice people. 
Fust thing we get a little ahead I'd get me a little stove nice 
one. They don' cost much. An' then we'd get a tent, big 
enough, an' maybe secon'-han' springs for the beds. An' 
we'd use this here tent jus' to eat under. An' Sat'dy night 
we'll go to the dancin'. They says you can invite folks if you 
want. I wisht we had some f rien's to invite. Maybe the men'll 
know somebody to invite." 



The Grapes of Wrath 437 

Rose of Sharon peered down the road. "That lady that 
says I'll lose the baby" she began. 

"Now you stop that," Ma warned her. 

Rose of Sharon said softly, "I seen her. She's a-comin' here, 
I think. Yeah! Here she comes. Ma, don't let her " 

Ma turned and looked at the approaching figure. 

"Howdy," the woman said. "I'm Mis' Sandry Lisbeth 
Sandry. I seen your girl this mornin'." 

"Howdy do," said Ma. 

"Are you happy in the Lord?" 

"Pretty happy," said Ma. 

"Are you saved?" 

"I been saved." Ma's face was closed and waiting. 

"Well, I'm glad," Lisbeth said. "The sinners is awful strong 
aroun' here. You come to a awful place. They's wicketness 
all around about. Wicket people, wicket goin's-on that a 
lamb'-blood Christian jes' can't hardly stan'. They's sinners 
all around us." 

Ma colored a little, and shut her mouth tightly. "Seems to 
me they's nice people here," she said shortly. 

Mrs. Sandry's eyes stared. "Nice!" she cried. "You think 
they're nice when they's dancin' an' huggin'? I tell ya, ya 
eternal soul ain't got a chancet in this here camp. Went out to 
a meetin' in Weedpatch las' night. Know what the preacher 
says? He says, 'They's wicketness in that camp.' He says, 
'The poor is tryin' to be rich/ He says, 'They's dancin' an' 
huggin' when they should be wailin' an* moanin' in sin.' 
That's what he says. 'Ever'body that ain't here is a black sin- 
ner,' he says. I tell you it made a person feel purty good to 
hear 'im. An' we knowed we was safe. We ain't danced." 

Ma's face was red. She stood up slowly and faced Mrs. 



438 The Grapes of Wrath 

Sandry. "Git!" she said. "Git out now, 'fore I git to be a 

sinner a-tellin' you where to go. Git to your wailin' an' 



moanin'." 



Mrs. Sandry's mouth dropped open. She stepped back. 
And then she became fierce. "I thought you was Christians." 

"So we are," Ma said. 

"No, you ain't. You're hell-burnin' sinners, all of you! An' 
I'll mention it in meetin', too. I can see your black soul a- 
burnin'. I can see that innocent child in that there girl's belly 
a-burnin'." 

A low wailing cry escaped from Rose of Sharon's lips. Ma 
stooped down and picked up a stick of wood. 

"Git!" she said coldly. "Don' you never come back. I seen 
your kind before. You'd take the little pleasure, wouldn' 
you?" Ma advanced on Mrs. Sandry. 

For a moment the woman backed away and then suddenly 
she threw back her head and howled. Her eyes rolled up, her 
shoulders and arms flopped loosely at her side, and a string of 
thick ropy saliva ran from the corner of her mouth. She 
howled again and again, long deep animal howls. Men and 
women ran up from the other tents, and they stood near- 
frightened and quiet. Slowly the woman sank to her knees 
and the howls sank to a shuddering, bubbling moan. She fell 
sideways and her arms and legs twitched. The white eye- 
balls showed under the open eyelids. 

A man said softly, "The sperit. She got the sperit." Ma 
stood looking down at the twitching form. 

The little manager strolled up casually. "Trouble?" he 
asked. The crowd parted to let him through. He looked 
down at the woman. "Too bad," he said. "Will some of you 
help get her back to her tent?" The silent people shuffled 
their feet. Two men bent over and lifted the woman, one 



The Grapes of Wrath 439 

held her under the arms and the other took her feet. They 
carried her away, and the people moved slowly after them. 
Rose of Sharon went under the tarpaulin and lay down and 
covered her face with a blanket. 

The manager looked at Ma, looked down at the stick in her 
hand. He smiled tiredly. "Did you clout her?" he asked. 

Ma continued to stare after the retreating people. She 
shook her head slowly. "No but I would a. Twicet today 
she worked my girl up." 

The manager said, u Try not to hit her. She isn't well. She 
just isn't well." And he added softly, "I wish she'd go away, 
and all her family. She brings more trouble on the camp than 
all the rest together." 

Ma got herself in hand again. "If she comes back, I might 
hit her. I ain't sure. I won't let her worry my girl no more." 

"Don't worry about it, Mrs. Joad," he said. "You won't 
ever see her again. She works over the newcomers. She won't 
ever come back. She thinks you're a sinner." 

"Well, I am," said Ma. 

"Sure. Everbody is, but not the way she means. She isn't 
well, Mrs. Joad." 

Ma looked at him gratefully, and she called, "You hear 
that, Rosasharn? She ain't well. She's crazy." But the girl did 
nqt raise her head. Ma said, "I'm warnin' you, mister. If she 
comes back, I ain't to be trusted. I'll hit her." 

He smiled wryly. "I know how you feel," he said. "But 
just try not to. That's all I ask just try not to." He walked 
slowly away toward the tent where Mrs. Sandry had been 
carried. 

Ma went into the tent and sat down beside Rose of Sharon. 
"Look up," she said. The girl lay still. Ma gently lifted the 
blanket from her daughter's face. "That woman's kinda 



440 The Grapes of Wrath 

crazy," she said. "Don't you believe none of them things." 
Rose of Sharon whispered in terror, "When she said about 
burnin', I felt burnin'." 
"That ain't true," said Ma. 

"I'm tar'd out," the girl whispered. "I'm tar'd a things hap- 
penin'. I wanta sleep. I wanta sleep." 

"Well, you sleep, then. This here's a nice place. You can 
sleep." 

"But she might come back." 

"She won't," said Ma. "I'm a-gonna set right outside, an' 
I won't let her come back. Res' up now, 'cause you got to get 
to work in the nu'sery purty soon." 

Ma struggled to her feet and went to sit in the entrance to 
the tent. She sat on a box and put her elbows on her knees 
and her chin in her cupped hands. She saw the movement in 
the camp, heard the voices of the children, the hammering 
of an iron rim; but her eyes were staring ahead of her. 

Pa, coming back along the road, found her there, and he 
squatted near her. She looked slowly over at him. "Git 
work?" she asked. 

"No," he said, ashamed. "We looked." 

"Where's Al and John and the truck?" 

"Al's fixin' somepin. Had ta bony some tools. Fella says 
Al got to fix her there." 

Ma said sadly, "This here's a nice place. We could be 
happy here awhile." 

"If we could get work." 

"Yeah! If you could get work." 

He felt her sadness, and studied her face. "What you 
a-mopin' about? If it's sech a nice place why have you got 
to mope?" 

She gazed at him, and she closed her eyes slowly. "Funny, 



The Grapes of Wrath 441 

ain't it. All the time we was a-movin' an' shovin', I never 
thought none. An' now these here folks been nice to me, 
been awful nice; an' what's the first thing I do? I go right 
back over the sad things that night Grampa died an' we 
buried him. I was all full up of the road, and bumpin' and 
movin', an' it wasn't so bad. But now I come out here, an' it's 
worse now. An' Granma an' Noah walkin' away like that! 
Walkin' away jus' down the river. Them things was part of 
all, an' now they come a-flockin' back. Granma a pauper, an' 
buried a pauper. That's sharp now. That's awful sharp. An' 
Noah walkin' away down the river. He don' know what's 
there. He jus' don' know. An' we don' know. We ain't never 
gonna know if he's alive or dead. Never gonna know. An' 
Connie sneakin' away. I didn' give 'em brain room before, 
but now they're a-flockin' back. An' I oughta be glad 'cause 
we're in a nice place." Pa watched her mouth while she 
talked. Her eyes were closed. "I can remember how them 
mountains was, sharp as oF teeth beside the river where Noah 
walked. I can remember how the stubble was on the groun' 
where Grampa lies. I can remember the choppin' block back 
home with a feather caught on it, all criss-crossed with cuts, 
an' black with chicken blood." 

Pa's voice took on her tone. "I seen the ducks today," he 
said. "Wedgin' south high up. Seems like they're awful 
dinky. An' I seen the blackbirds a-settin' on the wires, an' 
the doves was on the fences." Ma opened her eyes and looked 
at him. He went on, "I seen a little whirlwin', like a man 
a-spinnin' acrost a fiel'. An* the ducks drivin' on down, 
wedgin' on down to the southward." 

Ma smiled. "Remember?" she said. "Remember what we'd 
always say at home? Winter's a-comin' early,' we said, when 
the ducks flew. Always said that, an' winter come when it 



442 The Grapes of Wrath 

was ready to come. But we always said, 'She's a-comin' 

early.' I wonder what we meant." 

"I seen the blackbirds on the wires," said Pa. "Settin' so 
close together. An' the doves. Nothin' sets so still as a dove 
on the fence wires maybe two, side by side. An' this little 
whirlwin' big as a man, an' dancin' off acrost a fieP. Always 
did like the little fellas, big as a man." 

"Wisht I wouldn't think how it is home," said Ma. "It ain't 
our home no more. Wisht I'd forget it. An' Noah." 

"He wasn't ever right I mean well, it was my fault." 

"I tol' you never to say that. Woudn' a lived at all, maybe." 

"But I should a knowed more." 

"Now stop," said Ma. "Noah was strange. Maybe he'll 
have a nice time by the river. Maybe it's better so. We can't 
do no worryin'. This here is a nice place, an' maybe you'll 
get work right off." 

Pa pointed at the sky. "Look more ducks. Big bunch. An' 
Ma, 'Winter's a-comin' early.' " 

She chuckled. "They's things you do, an' you don' know 
why." 

"Here's John," said Pa. "Come on an' set, John." 

Uncle John joined them. He squatted down in front of 
Ma. "We didn' get nowheres," he said. "Jus' run aroun'. Say, 
Al wants to see ya. Says he got to git a tire. Only one layer 
a cloth lef, he says." 

Pa stood up. "I hope he can git her cheap. We ain't got 
much lef. Where is Al?" 

"Down there, to the nex' cross-street an' turn right. Says 
gonna blow out an' spoil a tube if we don' get a new one." 
Pa strolled away, and his eyes followed the giant V of ducks 
down the sky. 

Uncle John picked a stone from the ground and dropped 



The Grapes of Wrath 443 

it from his palm and picked it up again. He did not look at 
Ma. "They ain't no work," he said. 

"You didn' look all over," Ma said. 

"No, but they's signs out." 

"Well, Tom musta got work. He ain't been back." 

Uncle John suggested, "Maybe he went awaylike Con- 
nie, or like Noah." 

Ma glanced sharply at him, and then her eyes softened. 
"They's things you know," she said. "They's stuff you're 
sure of. Tom's got work, an' he'll come in this evenin'. That's 
true." She smiled in satisfaction. "Ain't he a fine boy!" she 
said. "Ain't he a good boy!" 

The cars and trucks began to come into the camp, and the 
men trooped by toward the sanitary unit. And each man 
carried clean overalls and shirt in his hand. 

Ma pulled herself together. "John, you go find Pa. Get to 
the store. I want beans an' sugar an' a piece of fryin' meat 
an' carrots an' tell Pa to get somepin nice anything but 
nice for tonight. Tonight we'll have somepin nice." 



Chapter Twenty-Three 

h 1HE migrant people, scuttling for work, scrabbling to 
I live, looked always for pleasure, dug for pleasure, 

JL manufactured pleasure, and they were hungry for 
amusement. Sometimes amusement lay in speech, and they 
climbed up their lives with jokes. And it came about in the 
camps along the roads, on the ditch banks beside the streams, 
under the sycamores, that the story teller grew into being, 
so that the people gathered in the low firelight to hear the 
gifted ones. And they listened while the tales were told, and 
their participation made the stories great. 

I was a recruit against Geronimo 

And the people listened, and their quiet eyes reflected the 
dying fire. 

Them Injuns was cute slick as snakes, an' quiet when they 
wanted. Could go through dry leaves, an' make no rustle. 
Try to do that sometime. 

And the people listened and remembered the crash of dry 
leaves under their feet. 

Come the change of season an' the clouds up. Wrong time. 
Ever hear of the army doing anything right? Give the army 
ten chances, an' they'll stumble along. Took three regiments 
to kill a hundred braves always. 

And the people listened, and their faces were quiet with 
listening. The story tellers, gathering attention into their 

444 



The Grapes of Wrath 445 

tales, spoke in great rhythms, spoke in great words because 
the tales were great, and the listeners became great through 
them. 

They was a brave on a ridge, against the sun. Knowed he 
stood out. Spread his arms an' stood. Naked as morning, an' 
against the sun. Maybe he was crazy. I don' know. Stood 
there, arms spread out; like a cross he looked. Four hunderd 
yards. An' the men well, they raised their sights an' they 
felt the wind with their fingers; an' then they jus' lay there 
an' couldn' shoot. Maybe that Injun knowed somepin. 
Knowed we couldn' shoot. Jes' laid there with the rifles 
cocked, an' didn' even put 'em to our shoulders. Lookin' at 
him. Head-band, one feather. Could see it, an' naked as the 
sun. Long time we laid there an' looked, an' he never moved. 
An' then the captain got mad. "Shoot, you crazy bastards, 
shoot!" he yells. An' we jus' laid there. "I'll give you to a 
five-count, an' then mark you down," the captain says. Well, 
sir we put up our rifles slow, an' ever' man hoped some- 
body'd shoot first. I ain't never been so sad in my life. An' I 
laid my sights on his belly, 'cause you can't stop a Injun no 
other place an' then. Well, he jest plunked down an' rolled. 
An' we went up. An' he wasn' big he'd looked so grand up 
there. All tore to pieces an' little. Ever see a cock pheasant, 
stiff and beautiful, ever* feather drawed an' painted, an' even 
his eyes drawed in pretty? An' bang! You pick him up- 
bloody an' twisted, an' you spoiled somepin better'n you; 
an' eatin' him don't never make it up to you, 'cause you 
spoiled somepin in yaself, an' you can't never fix it up. 

And the people nodded, and perhaps the fire spurted a 
little light and showed their eyes looking in on themselves. 

Against the sun, with his arms out. An' he looked big as 
God. 



446 The Grapes of Wrath 

And perhaps a man balanced twenty cents between food 
and pleasure, and he went to a movie in Marysville or Tulare, 
in Ceres or Mountain View. And he came back to the ditch 
camp with his memory crowded. And he told how it was: 

They was this rich fella, an' he makes like he's poor, an' 
they's this rich girl, an' she purtends like she's poor too, an' 
they meet in a hamburg' stan'. 

Why? 

I don't know why that's how it was. 

Why'd they purtend like they's poor? 

Well, they're tired of bein' rich. 

Horseshit! 

You want to hear this, or not? 

Well, go on then. Sure, I wanta hear it, but if I was rich, 
if I was rich I'd git so many pork chops I'd cord 'em up 
aroun' me like wood, an' I'd eat my way out. Go on. 

Well, they each think the other one's poor. An' they git 
arrested an' they git in jail, an' they don' git out 'cause the 
other one'd find out the first one is rich. An' the jail keeper, 
he's mean to 'em 'cause he thinks they're poor. Oughta see 
how he looks when he finds out. Jes' nearly faints, that's all. 

What they git in jail for? 

Well, they git caught at some kind a radical meetin' but 
they ain't radicals. They jes' happen to be there. An' they 
don't each one wanta marry fur money, ya see. 

So the sons-of-bitches start lyin' to each other right off. 

Well, in the pitcher it was like they was doin' good. 
They're nice to people, you see. 

I was to a show oncet that was me, an' more'n me; an' my 
life, an' more'n my life, so ever'thing was bigger. 

Well, I git enough sorrow. I like to git away from it. 

Sure if you can believe it. 



The Grapes of Wrath 447 

So they got married, an' then they foun' out, an' all them 
people that's treated 'em mean. They was a fella had been 
uppity, an' he nearly fainted when this fella come in with a 
plug hat on. Jes' nearly fainted. An' they was a newsreel with 
them German soldiers kickin' up their feetfunny as hell. 

And always, if he had a little money, a man could get 
drunk. The hard edges gone, and the warmth. Then there 
was no loneliness, for a man could people his brain with 
friends, and he could find his enemies and destroy them. Sit- 
ting in a ditch, the earth grew soft under him. Failures dulled 
and the future was no threat. And hunger did not skulk 
about, but the world was soft and easy, and a man could 
reach the place he started for. The stars came down wonder- 
fully close and the sky was soft. Death was a friend, and 
sleep was death's brother. The old times came back a girl 
with pretty feet, who danced one time at home a horse 
a long time ago. A horse and a saddle. And the leather was 
carved. When was that? Ought to find a girl to talk to. 
That's nice. Might lay with her, too. But warm here. And the 
stars down so close, and sadness and pleasure so close to- 
gether, really the same thing. Like to stay drunk all the time. 
Who says it's bad? Who dares to say it's bad? Preachersbut 
they got their own kinda drunkenness. Thin, barren women, 
but they're too miserable to know. Reformers but they 
don't bite deep enough into living to know. No the stars are 
close and dear and I have joined the brotherhood of the 
worlds. And everything's holy everything, even me. 

A harmonica is easy to carry. Take it out of your hip 
pocket, knock it against your palm to shake out the dirt and 
pocket fuzz and bits of tobacco. Now it's ready. You can do 



448 The Grapes of Wrath 

anything with a harmonica: thin reedy single tone, or chords, 
or melody with rhythm chords. You can mold the music 
with curved hands, making it wail and cry like bagpipes, 
making it full and round like an organ, making it as sharp and 
bitter as the reed pipes of the hills. And you can play and put 
it back in your pocket. It is always with you, always in your 
pocket. And as you play, you learn new tricks, new ways to 
mold the tone with your hands, to pinch the tone with your 
lips, and no one teaches you. You feel aroundsometimes 
alone in the shade at noon, sometimes in the tent door after 
supper when the women are washing up. Your foot taps 
gently on the ground. Your eyebrows rise and fall in rhythm. 
And if you lose it or break it, why, it's no great loss. You can 
buy another for a quarter. 

A guitar is more precious. Must learn this thing. Fingers of 
the left hand must have callus caps. Thumb of the right hand 
a horn of callus. Stretch the left-hand fingers, stretch them 
like a spider's legs to get the hard pads on the frets. 

This was my father's box. Wasn't no bigger'n a bug first 
time he give me C chord. An' when I learned as good as him, 
he hardly never played no more. Used to set in the door, an' 
listen an' tap his foot. I'm tryin' for a break, an' he'd scowl 
mean till I get her, an' then he'd settle back easy, an' he'd 
nod. "Play," he'd say. "Play nice." It's a good box. See how 
the head is wore. They's many a million songs wore down 
that wood an' scooped her out. Some day she'll cave in like a 
egg. But you can't patch her nor worry her no way or she'll 
lose tone. Play her in the evening, an' they's a harmonica 
player in the nex' tent. Makes it pretty nice together. 

The fiddle is rare, hard to learn. No frets, no teacher. 

Jes' listen to a oF man an' try to pick it up. Won't tell how 



The Grapes of Wrath 449 

to double. Says it's a secret. But I watched. Here's how he 
done it. 

Shrill as a wind, the fiddle, quick and nervous and shrill. 

She ain't much of a fiddle. Give two dollars for her. Fella 
says they's fiddles four hundred years old, and they git mel- 
low like whisky. Says they'll cost fifty-sixty thousan' dollars. 
I don't know. Soun's like a lie. Harsh oP bastard, ain't she? 
Wanta dance? I'll rub up the bow with plenty rosin. Man! 
Then she'll squawk. Hear her a mile. 

These three in the evening, harmonica and fiddle and 
guitar. Playing a reel and tapping out the tune, and the big 
deep strings of the guitar bearing like a heart, and the har- 
monica's sharp chords and the skirl and squeal of the fiddle. 
People have to move close. They can't help it. "Chicken 
Reel" now, and the feet tap and a young lean buck takes 
three quick steps, and his arms hang limp. The square closes 
up and the dancing starts, feet on the bare ground, beating 
dull, strike with your heels. Hands 'round and swing. Hair 
falls down, and panting breaths. Lean to the side now. 

Look at that Texas boy, long legs loose, taps four times for 
ever' damn step. Never seen a boy swing aroun' like that. 
Look at him swing that Cherokee girl, red in her cheeks an' 
her toe points out. Look at her pant, look at her heave. Think 
she's tired? Think she's winded? Well, she ain't. Texas boy 
got his hair in his eyes, mouth's wide open, can't get air, but 
he pats four times for ever' darn step, an' he'll keep a-going' 
with the Cherokee girl. 

The fiddle squeaks and the guitar bongs. Mouth-organ 
man is red in the face. Texas boy and the Cherokee girl, 
pantin' like dogs an' a-beatin' the groun'. OP folks stan' 
a-pattin' their han's. Smilin' a little, tappin' their feet. 



450 The Grapes of Wrath 

Back home in the schoolhouse, it was. The big moon 
sailed off to the westward. An' we walked, him an' me a 
little ways. Didn' talk 'cause our throats was choked up. 
Didn' talk none at all. An' purty soon they was a haycock. 
Went right to it and laid down there. Seein' the Texas boy 
an' that girl a-steppin' away into the darkthink nobody 
seen 'em go. Oh, God! I wisht I was a-goin' with that 
Texas boy. Moon'll be up 'fore long. I seen that girl's ol' man 
move out to stop 'em, an' then he didn'. He knowed. Might 
as well stop the fall from comin', and might as well stop the 
sap from movin' in the trees. An' the moon'll be up 'fore 
long. 

Play more play the story songs "As I Walked through 
the Streets of Laredo." 

The fire's gone down. Be a shame to build her up. Little ol' 
moon'll be up 'fore long. 

Beside an irrigation ditch a preacher labored and the peo- 
ple cried. And the preacher paced like a tiger, whipping the 
people with his voice, and they groveled and whined on the 
ground. He calculated them, gauged them, played on them, 
and when they were all squirming on the ground he stooped 
down and of his great strength he picked each one up in his 
arms and shouted, Take 'em, Christ! and threw each one in 
the water. And when they were all in, waist deep in the 
water, and looking with frightened eyes at the master, he 
knelt down on the bank and he prayed for them; and he 
prayed that all men and women might grovel and whine on 
the ground. Men and women, dripping, clothes sticking 
tight, watched; then gurgling and sloshing in their shoes they 
walked back to the camp, to the tents, and they talked softly 
in wonder: 



The Grapes of Wrath 451 

We been saved, they said. We're washed white as snow. 
We won't never sin again. 

And the children, frightened and wet, whispered together: 

We been saved. We won't sin no more. 

Wisht I knowed what all the sins was, so I could do 'em. 

The migrant people looked humbly for pleasure on the 
roads. 



Chapter Twenty-Four 

ON SATURDAY morning the wash tubs were 
crowded. The women washed dresses, pink ging- 
hams and flowered cottons, and they hung them in 
the sun and stretched the cloth to smooth it. When afternoon 
came the whole camp quickened and the people grew ex- 
cited. The children caught the fever and were more noisy 
than usual. About mid-afternoon child bathing began, and as 
each child was caught, subdued, and washed, the noise on the 
playground gradually subsided. Before five, the children 
were scrubbed and warned about getting dirty again; and 
they walked about, stiff in clean clothes, miserable with care- 
fulness. 

At the big open-air dance platform a committee was busy. 
Every bit of electric wire had been requisitioned. The city 
dump had been visited for wire, every tool box had contrib- 
uted friction tape. And now the patched, spliced wire was 
strung out to the dance floor, with bottle necks as insulators. 
This night the floor would be lighted for the first time. By 
six o'clock the men were back from work or from looking 
for work, and a new wave of bathing started. By seven, din- 
ners were over, men had on their best clothes: freshly 
washed overalls, clean blue shirts, sometimes the decent 
blacks. The girls were ready in their print dresses, stretched 
and clean, their hair braided and ribboned. The worried 
women watched the families and cleaned up the evening 

452 



The Grapes of Wrath 453 

dishes. On the platform the string band practiced, sur- 
rounded by a double wall of children. The people were in- 
tent and excited. 

In the tent of Ezra Huston, chairman, the Central Com- 
mittee of five men went into meeting. Huston, a tall spare 
man, wind-blackened, with eyes like little blades, spoke to 
his committee, one man from each sanitary unit. 

"It's goddamn lucky we got the word they was gonna try 
to bust up the dance!" he said. 

The tubby little representative from Unit Three spoke up. 
"I think we oughta squash the hell out of 'em, an' show 'em." 

"No," said Huston. "That's what they want. No, sir. If 
they can git a fight goin', then they can run in the cops an' 
say we ain't orderly. They tried it before other places." He 
turned to the sad dark boy from Unit Two. "Got the fellas 
together to go roun' the fences an' see nobody sneaks in?" 

The sad boy nodded. "Yeah! Twelve. Tol' 'em not to hit 
nobody. Jes' push 'em out ag'in." 

Huston said, "Will you go out an' find Willie Eaton? He's 
chairman a the entertainment, ain't he?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, tell 'im we wanta see 'im." 

The boy went out, and he returned in a moment with a 
stringy Texas man. Willie Eaton had a long fragile jaw and 
dust-colored hair. His arms and legs were long and loose, and 
he had the gray sunburned eyes of the Panhandle. He stood 
in the tent, grinning, and his hands pivoted restlessly on his 
wrists. 

Huston said, "You heard about tonight?" 

Willie grinned. "Yeah!" 

"Did anything 'bout it?" 

"Yeah!" 



454 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Tell what you done." 

Willie Eaton grinned happily. "Well, sir, ordinary ent'- 
tainment committee is five. I got twenty moreall good 
strong boys. They're a-gonna be a-dancin' an' a-keepin' 
their eyes open an' their ears open. First sign any talk or 
argament, they close in tight. Worked her out purty nice. 
Can't even see nothing. Kinda move out, an' the fella will go 
out with 'em." 

"Tell 'em they ain't to hurt the fellas." 

Willie laughed gleefully. "I toP 'em," he said. 

"Well, tell 'em so they know." 

"They know. Got five men out to the gate lookin' over 
the folks that comes in. Try to spot 'em 'fore they git 
started." 

Huston stood up. His steel-colored eyes were stern. "Now 
you look here, Willie. We don't want them fellas hurt. 
They's gonna be deputies out by the front gate. If you blood 
'em up, why them deputies'll git you." 

"Got that there figgered out," said Willie. "Take 'em out 
the back way, into the fiel'. Some a the boys'll see they git on 
their way." 

"Well, it soun's awright," Huston said worriedly. "But 
don't you let nothing happen, Willie. You're responsible. 
Don' you hurt them fellas. Don' you use no stick nor no 
knife or arn, or nothing like that." 

"No, sir," said Willie. "We won't mark 'em." 

Huston was suspicious. "I wisht I knowed I could trus' 
you, Willie. If you got to sock 'em, sock 'em where they 
won't bleed." 

"Yes, sir! "said Willie. 

"You sure of the fellas you picked?" 

"Yes, sir." 



The Grapes of Wrath 455 

"Awright. An' if she gits outa han', I'll be in the right-han' 
corner, this way on the dance floor." 

Willie saluted in mockery and went out. 

Huston said, "I dunno. I jes' hope Willie's boys don't kill 
nobody. What the hell the deputies want to hurt the camp 
for? Why can't they let us be?" 

The sad boy from Unit Two said, "I lived out at Sunlan' 
Lan' an' Cattle Company's place. Honest to God, they got a 
cop for ever' ten people. Got one water faucet for 'bout two 
hundred people." 

The tubby man said, "Jesus, God, Jeremy. You ain't got 
to tell me. I was there. They got a block of shacks thirty- 
five of 'em in a row, an' fifteen deep. An' they got ten crap- 
pers for the whole shebang. An', Christ, you could smell 'em 
a mile. One of them deputies give me the lowdown. We was 
settin' aroun', an' he says, Them goddamn gov'ment camps,' 
he says. 'Give people hot water, an' they gonna want hot 
water. Give 'em flush toilets, an' they gonna want 'em.' He 
says, 'You give them goddamn Okies stuff like that an' they'll 
want 'em.' An' he says, They hoi' red meetin's in them gov'- 
ment camps. All figgerin' how to git on relief,' he says." 

Huston asked, "Didn' nobody sock him?" 

"No. They was a little fella, an' he says, 'What you mean, 
relief?' 

" 'I mean relief what us taxpayers puts in an' you god- 
damn Okies takes out.' 

" 'We pay sales tax an' gas tax an' tobacco tax,' this little 
guy says. An' he says, 'Farmers get four cents a cotton poun' 
from the gov'ment ain't that relief?' An' he says, 'Railroads 
an' shippin' companies draws subsidies ain't that relief?' 

" They're doin' stuff got to be done,' this deputy says. 

" 'Well,' the little guy says, 'how'd your goddamn crops 



456 The Grapes of Wrath 

get picked if it wasn't for us?' " The tubby man looked 

around. 

"What'd the deputy say?" Huston asked. 

"Well, the deputy got mad. An' he says, 'You goddamn 
reds is all the time stirrin' up trouble,' he says. 'You better 
come along with me.' So he takes this little guy in, an' they 
give him sixty days in jail for vagrancy." 

"How'd they do that if he had a job?" asked Timothy 
Wallace. 

The tubby man laughed. "You know better'n that," he 
said. "You know a vagrant is anybody a cop don't like. An' 
that's why they hate this here camp. No cops can get in. This 
here's United States, not California." 

Huston sighed. "Wisht we could stay here. Got to be goin' 
'fore long. I like this here. Folks gits along nice; an', God Aw- 
mighty, why can't they let us do it 'stead of keepin' us miser- 
able an' puttin' us in jail? I swear to God they gonna push us 
into fightin' if they don't quit a-worryin' us." Then he 
calmed his voice. "We jes' got to keep peaceful," he re- 
minded himself. "The committee got no right to fly off'n the 
handle." 

The tubby man from Unit Three said, "Anybody that 
thinks this committee got all cheese an' crackers ought to jes' 
try her. They was a fight in my unit today women. Got to 
callin' names, an' then got to throwin' garbage. Ladies' Com- 
mittee couldn' handle it, an' they come to me. Want me to 
bring the fight in this here committee. I toP 'em they got to 
handle women trouble theirselves. This here committee ain't 
gonna mess with no garbage fights." 

Huston nodded. "You done good," he said. 

And now the dusk was falling, and as the darkness deep- 



The Grapes of Wrath 457 

ened the practicing of the string band seemed to grow 
louder. The lights flashed on and two men inspected the 
patched wire to the dance floor. The children crowded 
thickly about the musicians. A boy with a guitar sang the 
"Down Home Blues/* chording delicately for himself, and 
on his second chorus three harmonicas and a fiddle 
joined him. From the tents the people streamed toward the 
platform, men in their clean blue denim and women in their 
ginghams. They came near to the platform and then stood 
quietly waiting, their faces bright and intent under the light. 

Around the reservation there was a high wire fence, and 
along the fence, at intervals of fifty feet, the guards sat in the 
grass and waited. 

Now the cars of the guests began to arrive, small farmers 
and their families, migrants from other camps. And as each 
guest came through the gate he mentioned the name of the 
camper who had invited him. 

The string band took a reel tune up and played loudly, for 
they were not practicing any more. In front of their tents the 
Jesus-lovers sat and watched, their faces hard and con- 
temptuous. They did not speak to one another, they watched 
for sin, and their faces condemned the whole proceeding. 

At the Joad tent Ruthie and Winfield had bolted what lit- 
tle dinner they had, and then they started for the platform. 
Ma called them back, held up their faces with a hand under 
each chin, and looked into their nostrils, pulled their ears and 
looked inside, and sent them to the sanitary unit to wash their 
hands once more. They dodged around the back of the 
building and bolted for the platform, to stand among the 
children, close-packed about the band. 

Al finished his dinner and spent half an hour shaving with 



458 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom's razor. Al had a tight-fitting wool suit and a striped 
shirt, and he bathed and washed and combed his straight hair 
back. And when the washroom was vacant for a moment, he 
smiled engagingly at himself in the mirror, and he turned and 
tried to see himself in profile when he smiled. He slipped his 
purple arm-bands on and put on his tight coat. And he 
rubbed up his yellow shoes with a piece of toilet paper. A 
late bather came in, and Al hurried out and walked recklessly 
toward the platform, his eye peeled for girls. Near the dance 
floor he saw a pretty blond girl sitting in front of a tent. He 
sidled near and threw open his coat to show his shirt. 

"Gonna dance tonight?" he asked. 

The girl looked away and did not answer. 

"Can't a fella pass a word with you? How 'bout you an 
me dancin'?" And he said nonchalantly, "I can waltz." 

The girl raised her eyes shyly, and she said, "That ain't 
nothin' anybody can waltz." 

"Not like me," said Al. The music surged, and he tapped 
one foot in time. "Come on," he said. 

A very fat woman poked her head out of the tent and 
scowled at him. "You git along," she said fiercely. "This here 
girl's spoke for. She's a-gonna be married, an' her man's 
a-comin' for her." 

Al winked rakishly at the girl, and he tripped on, striking 
his feet to the music and swaying his shoulders and swinging 
his arms. And the girl looked after him intently. 

Pa put down his plate and stood up. "(Come on, John," he 
said; and he explained to Ma, "We're a-gonna talk to some 
fellas about gettin' work." And Pa and Uncle John walked 
toward the manager's house. 

Tom worked a piece of store bread into the stew gravy on 



The Grapes of Wrath 459 

his plate and ate the bread. He handed his plate to Ma, and 
she put it in the bucket of hot water and washed it and 
handed it to Rose of Sharon to wipe. "Ain't you goin' to the 
dance?" Ma asked. 

"Sure," said Tom. "I'm on a committee. We're gonna en- 
tertain some fellas." 

"Already on a committee?" Ma said. "I guess it's 'cause 
you got work." 

Rose of Sharon turned to put the dish away. Tom pointed 
at her. "My God, she's a-gettin' big," he said. 

Rose of Sharon blushed and took another dish from Ma. 
"Sure she is," Ma said. 

"An' she's gettin' prettier," said Tom. 

The girl blushed more deeply and hung her head. "You 
stop it," she said, softly. 

" 'Course she is," said Ma. "Girl with a baby always gets 
prettier." 

Tom laughed. "If she keeps a-swellin' like this, she gonna 
need a wheelbarra to carry it." 

"Now you stop," Rose of Sharon said, and she went inside 
the tent, out of sight. 

Ma chuckled, "You shouldn' ought to worry her." 

"She likes it," said Tom. 

"I know she likes it, but it worries her, too. And she's 
a-mournin' for Connie." 

"Well, she might's well give him up. He's prob'ly studyin' 
to be President of the United States by now." 

"Don't worry her," Ma said. "She ain't got no easy row 
to hoe." 

Willie Eaton moved near, and he grinned and said, "You 
Tomjoad?" 



460 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Yeah." 

"Well, I'm Chairman the Entertainment Committee. We 
gonna need you. Fella toP me 'bout you." 

"Sure, I'll play with you," said Tom. "This here's Ma." 

"Howdy," said Willie. 

"Glad to meet ya." 

Willie said, "Gonna put you on the gate to start, an' then 
on the floor. Want ya to look over the guys when they come 
in, an' try to spot 'em. You'll be with another fella. Then 
later I want ya to dance an' watch." 

"Yeah! I can do that awright," said Tom. 

Ma said apprehensively, "They ain't no trouble?" 

"No, ma'am," Willie said. "They ain't gonna be no 
trouble." 

"None at all," said Tom. "Well, I'll come 'long. See you at 
the dance, Ma." The two young men walked quickly away 
toward the main gate. 

Ma piled the washed dishes on a box. "Come on out," she 
called, and when there was no answer, "Rosasharn, you come 
out." 

The girl stepped from the tent, and she went on with the 
dish-wiping. 

"Tom was on'y jollyin' ya." 

"I know. I didn't mind; on'y I hate to have folks look at 
me." 

"Ain't no way to he'p that. Folks gonna look. But it makes 
folks happy to see a girl in a fambly way makes folks sort 
of giggly an' happy. Ain't you a-goin' to the dance?" 

"I was but I don' know. I wisht Connie was here." Her 
voice rose. "Ma, I wisht he was here. I can't hardly stan' it." 

Ma looked closely at her. "I know," she said. "But, Rosa- 
sharn don' shame your folks." 



The Grapes of Wrath 461 

"I don' aim to, Ma." 

"Well, don't you shame us. We got too much on us now, 
without no shame." 

The girl's lip quivered. "I I ain' goin' to the dance. I 
couldn' Ma he'p me!" She sat down and buried her head 
in her arms. 

Ma wiped her hands on the dish towel and she squatted 
down in front of her daughter, and she put her two hands on 
Rose of Sharon's hair. "You're a good girl," she said. "You 
always was a good girl. I'll take care a you. Don't you fret." 
She put an interest in her tone. "Know what you an' me's 
gonna do? We're a-goin' to that dance, an' we're a-gonna set 
there an' watch. If anybody says to come dance why, I'll 
say you ain't strong enough. I'll say you're poorly. An' you 
can hear the music an y all like that." 

Rose of Sharon raised her head. "You won't let me 
dance?" 

"No, I won't." 

"An' don' let nobody touch me." 

"No, I won't." 

The girl sighed. She said desperately, "I don' know what 
I'm a-gonna do, Ma. I jus' don' know. I don' know." 

Ma patted her knee. "Look," she said. "Look here at me. 
I'm a-gonna tell ya. In a little while it ain't gonna be so bad. 
In a little while. An' that's true. Now come on. We'll go get 
washed up, an' we'll put on our nice dress an' we'll set by the 
dance." She led Rose of Sharon toward the sanitary unit. 

Pa and Uncle John squatted with a group of men by the 
porch of the office. "We nearly got work today," Pa said. 
"We was jus' a few minutes late. They awready got two 
fellas. An', well, sir, it was a funny thing. They's a straw boss 
there, an' he says, 'We jus' got some two-bit men. 'Course 



462 The Grapes of Wrath 

we could use twenty-cent men. We can use a lot a twenty- 
cent men. You go to your camp an' say we'll put a lot a 
fellas on for twenty cents.' " 

The squatting men moved nervously. A broad-shouldered 
man, his face completely in the shadow of a black hat, 
spatted his knee with his palm. "I know it, goddamn it!" he 
cried. "An' they'll git men. They'll git hungry men. You 
can't feed your fam'ly on twenty cents an hour, but you'll 
take anything. They got you goin' an' comin'. They jes' 
auction a job off. Jesus Christ, pretty soon they're gonna 
make us pay to work." 

"We would of took her," Pa said. "We ain't had no job. 
We sure would a took her, but they was them guys in there, 
an' the way they looked, we was scairt to take her." 

Black Hat said, "Get crazy thinkin"! I been workin' for a 
fella, an' he can't pick his crop. Cost more jes' to pick her 
than he can git for her, an' he don' know what to do." 

"Seems to me" Pa stopped. The circle was silent for him. 
"Well I jus' thought, if a fella had a acre. Well, my woman 
she could raise a little truck an' a couple pigs an' some 
chickens. An' us men could get out an' find work, an' then 
go back. Kids could maybe go to school. Never seen sech 
schools as out here." 

"Our kids ain't happy in them schools," Black Hat said. 

"Why not? They're pretty nice, them schools." 

"Well, a raggedy kid with no shoes, an' them other kids 
with socks on, an' nice pants, an' them a-yellin' 'Okie.' My 
boy went to school. Had a fight evr' day. Done good, too. 
Tough little bastard. Ever' day he got to fight. Come home 
with his clothes tore an' his nose bloody. An' his ma'd whale 
him. Made her stop that. No need ever'body beatin' the hell 
outa him, poor little fella. Jesus! He give some a them kids 



The Grapes of Wrath 463 

a goin'-over, though them nice-pants sons-a-bitches. I 
dunno. I dunno." 

Pa demanded, "Well, what the hell am I gonna do? We're 
outa money. One of my boys got a short job, but that won't 
feed us. I'm a-gonna go an' take twenty cents. I got to." 

Black Hat raised his head, and his bristled chin showed in 
the light, and his stringy neck where the whiskers lay flat 
like fur. "Yeah!" he said bitterly. "You'll do that. An' I'm a 
two-bit man. You'll take my job for twenty cents. An' then 
I'll git hungry an' I'll take my job back for fifteen. Yeah! 
You go right on an' do her." 

"Well, what the hell can I do?" Pa demanded. "I can't 
starve so's you can get two bits." 

Black Hat dipped his head again, and his chin went into the 
shadow. "I dunno," he said. "I jes' dunno. It's bad enough to 
work twelve hours a day an' come out jes' a little bit hungry, 
but we got to figure all a time, too. My kid ain't gettin' 
enough to eat. I can't think all the time, goddamn it! It drives 
a man crazy." The circle of men shifted their feet nervously. 

Tom stood at the gate and watched the people coming in 
to the dance. A floodlight shone down into their faces. Willie 
Eaton said, "Jes' keep your eyes open. I'm sendin' Jule 
Vitela over. He's half Cherokee. Nice fella. Keep your eyes 
open. An' see if you can pick out the ones." 

"O.K.," said Tom. He watched the farm families come in, 
the girls with braided hair and the boys polished for the 
dance. Jule came and stood beside him. 

"I'm with you," he said. 

Tom looked at the hawk nose and the high brown cheek 
bones and the slender receding chin. "They says you're half 
Injun. You look all Injun to me." 



464 The Grapes of Wrath 

"No," said Jule. "Jes' half. Wisht I was a full-blood. I'd 
have my Ian' on the reservation. Them full-bloods got it 
pretty nice, some of 'em." 

"Look a them people," Tom said. 

The guests were moving in through the gateway, families 
from the farms, migrants from the ditch camps. Children 
straining to be free and quiet parents holding them back. 

Jule said, "These here dances done funny things. Our peo- 
ple got nothing, but jes' because they can ast their frien's to 
come here to the dance, sets 'em up an' makes 'em proud. An* 
the folks respects 'em 'count of these here dances. Fella got 
a little place where I was a-workin'. He come to a dance 
here. I ast him myself, an' he come. Says we got the only 
decent dance in the county, where a man can take his girls 
an' his wife. Hey! Look." 

Three young men were coming through the gate young 
working men in jeans. They walked close together. The 
guard at the gate questioned them, and they answered and 
passed through. 

"Look at 'em careful," Jule said. He moved to the guard. 
"Who ast them three?" he asked. 

"Fella named Jackson, Unit Four." 

Jule came back to Tom. "I think them's our fellas." 

"How ya know?" 

"I dunno how. Jes' got a feelin'. They're kinda scared. 
Foller 'em an' tell Willie to look 'em over, an' tell Willie to 
check with Jackson, Unit Four. Get him to see if they're all 
right. I'll stay here." 

Tom strolled after the three young men. They moved 
toward the dance floor and took their positions quietly on 
the edge of the crowd. Tom saw Willie near the band and 
signaled him. 



The Grapes of Wrath 465 

"What cha want?" Willie asked. 

"Them three seethere?" 

"Yeah." 

"They say a fella name' Jackson, Unit Four, ast 'em." 

Willie craned his neck and saw Huston and called him 
over. "Them three fellas," he said. "We better get Jackson, 
Unit Four, an' see if he ast 'em." 

Huston turned on his heel and walked away; and in a few 
moments he was back with a lean and bony Kansan. "This 
here's Jackson," Huston said. "Look, Jackson, see them three 
young fellas?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, did you ast 'em?" 

"No." 

"Ever see 'em before?" 

Jackson peered at them. "Sure. Worked at Gregorio's 
with 'em." 

"So they knowed your name." 

"Sure. I worked right beside 'em." 

"Awright," Huston said. "Don't you go near 'em. We 
ain't gonna th'ow 'em out if they're nice. Thanks, Mr. Jack- 



son." 



"Good work," he said to Tom. "I guess them's the fellas." 

"Jule picked 'em out," said Tom. 

"Hell, no wonder," said Willie. "His Injun blood smelled 
'em. Well, I'll point 'em out to the boys." 

A sixteen-year-old boy came running through the crowd. 
He stopped, panting, in front of Huston. "Mista Huston," he 
said. "I been like you said. They's a car with six men parked 
down by the euc'lyptus trees, an' they's one with four men 
up that north-side road. I ast 'em for a match. They got guns. 
I seen 'em." 



466 The Grapes of Wrath 

Huston's eyes grew hard and cruel. "Willie," he said, "you 
sure you got ever'thing ready?" 

Willie grinned happily. "Sure have, Mr. Huston. Ain't 
gonna be no trouble." 

"Well, don't hurt 'em. 'Member now. If you kin, quiet 
an' nice, I kinda like to see 'em. Be in my tent." 

"I'll see what we kin do," said Willie. 

Dancing had not formally started, but now Willie climbed 
onto the platform. "Choose up your squares," he called. The 
music stopped. Boys and girls, young men and women, ran 
about until eight squares were ready on the big floor, ready 
and waiting. The girls held their hands in front of them and 
squirmed their fingers. The boys tapped their feet restlessly. 
Around the floor the old folks sat, smiling slightly, holding 
the children back from the floor. And in the distance the 
Jesus-lovers sat with hard condemning faces and watched 
the sin. 

Ma and Rose of Sharon sat on a bench and watched. And 
as each boy asked Rose of Sharon as partner, Ma said, "No, 
she ain't well." And Rose of Sharon blushed and her eyes 
were bright. 

The caller stepped to the middle of the floor and held up 
his hands. "All ready? Then let her go!" 

The music snarled out "Chicken Reel," shrill and clear, 
fiddle skirling, harmonicas nasal and sharp, and the guitars 
booming on the bass strings. The caller named the turns, the 
squares moved. And they danced forward and back, hands 
'round, swing your lady. The caller, in a frenzy, tapped his 
feet, strutted back and forth, went through the figures as he 
called them. 

"Swing your ladies an' a del ce do. Join han's roun' an' 



The Grapes of Wrath 467 

away we go." The music rose and fell, and the moving 
shoes beating in time on the platform sounded like drums. 
"Swing to the right an' a swing to lef ; break, now break- 
back to back," the caller sang the high vibrant monotone. 
Now the girls' hair lost the careful combing. Now perspira- 
tion stood out on the foreheads of the boys. Now the ex- 
perts showed the tricky inter-steps. And the old people on 
the edge of the floor took up the rhythm, patted their hands 
softly, and tapped their feet; and they smiled gently and then 
caught one another's eyes and nodded. 

Ma leaned her head close to Rose of Sharon's ear. "Maybe 
you wouldn' think it, but your Pa was as nice a dancer as I 
ever seen, when he was young." And Ma smiled. "Makes me 
think of ol' times," she said. And on the faces of the watchers 
the smiles were of old times. 

"Up near Muskogee twenty years ago, they was a blin' 
man with a fiddle " 

"I seen a fella oncet could slap his heels four times in one 
jump." 

"Swedes up in Dakota know what they do sometimes? 
Put pepper on the floor. Gits up the ladies' skirts an' makes 
'em purty lively lively as a filly in season. Swedes do that 
sometimes." 

In the distance, the Jesus-lovers watched their restive chil- 
dren. "Look on sin," they said. "Them folks is ridin' to hell 
on a poker. It's a shame -the godly got to see it." And their 
children were silent and nervous. 

"One more roun' an' then a little res'," the caller chanted. 
"Hit her hard, 'cause we're gonna stop soon." And the girls 
were damp and flushed, and they danced with open mouths 
and serious reverent faces, and the boys flung back their long 



468 The Grapes of Wrath 

hair and pranced, pointed their toes, and clicked their heels. 
In and out the squares moved, crossing, backing, whirling, 
and the music shrilled. 

Then suddenly it stopped. The dancers stood still, panting 
with fatigue. And the children broke from restraint, dashed 
on the floor, chased one another madly, ran, slid, stole caps, 
and pulled hair. The dancers sat down, fanning themselves 
with their hands. The members of the band got up and 
stretched themselves and sat down again. And the guitar 
players worked softly over their strings. 

Now Willie called, "Choose again for another square, if 
you can." The dancers scrambled to their feet and new 
dancers plunged forward for partners. Tom stood near the 
three young men. He saw them force their way through, 
out on the floor, toward one of the forming squares. He 
waved his hand at Willie, and Willie spoke to the fiddler. 
The fiddler squawked his bow across the strings. Twenty 
young men lounged slowly across the floor. The three 
reached the square. And one of them said, "I'll dance with 
this here." 

A blond boy looked up in astonishment. "She's my part- 
ner." 

"Listen, you little son-of-a-bitch " 

Off in the darkness a shrill whistle sounded. The three 
were walled in now. And each one felt the grip of hands. 
And then the wall of men moved slowly off the platform. 

Willie yelped, "Le's go!" The music shrilled out, the caller 
intoned the figures, the feet thudded on the platform. 

A touring car drove to the entrance. The driver called, 
"Open up. We hear you got a riot." 

The guard kept his position. "We got no riot. Listen to 
that music. Who are you?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 469 

"Deputy sheriffs." 

"Got a warrant?" 

"We don't need a warrant if there's a riot." 

"Well, we got no riots here," said the gate guard. 

The men in the car listened to the music and the sound of 
the caller, and then the car pulled slowly away and parked 
in a crossroad and waited. 

In the moving squad each of the three young men was 
pinioned, and a hand was over each mouth. When they 
reached the darkness the group opened up. 

Tom said, "That sure was did nice." He held both arms of 
his victim from behind. 

Willie ran over to them from the dance floor. "Nice 
work," he said. "On'y need six now. Huston wants to see 
these here fellers." 

Huston himself emerged from the darkness. "These the 
ones?" 

"Sure," said Jule. "Went right up an' started it. But they 
didn' even swing once." 

"Let's look at 'em." The prisoners were swung around to 
face him. Their heads were down. Huston put a flashlight 
beam in each sullen face. "What did you wanta do it for?" 
he asked. There was no answer. "Who the hell toP you to do 
it?" 

"Goddarn it, we didn' do nothing. We was jes' gonna 
dance." 

"No, you wasn't," Jule said. "You was gonna sock that 
kid." 

Tom said, "Mr. Huston, jus' when these here fellas moved 
in, somebody give a whistle." 

"Yeah, I know! The cops come right to the gate." He 
turned back. "We ain't gonna hurt you. Now who toP you 



470 The Grapes of Wrath 

to come bus' up our dance?" He waited for a reply. "You're 

our own folks," Huston said sadly. "You belong with us. 

How'd you happen to come? We know all about it," he 

added. 

"Well, goddamn it, a fella got to eat." 

"Well, who sent you? Who paid you to come?" 

"We ain't been paid." 

"An' you ain't gonna be. No fight, no pay. Ain't that 
right?" 

One of the pinioned men said, "Do what you want. We 
ain't gonna tell nothing." 

Huston's head sank down for a moment, and then he said 
softly, "O.K. Don't tell. But looka here. Don't knife your 
own folks. We're tryin' to get along, havin' fun an' keepin' 
order. Don't tear all that down. Jes' think about it. You're 
jes' harrnin' yourself. 

"Awright, boys, put 'em over the back fence. An' don't 
hurt 'em. They don't know what they're doin'." 

The squad moved slowly toward the rear of the camp, 
and Huston looked after them. 

Jule said, "Le's jes' take one good kick at 'em." 

"No, you don't!" Willie cried. "I said we wouldn'." 

"Jes' one nice little kick," Jule pleaded. "Jes' loft 'em over 
the fence." 

"No, sir," Willie insisted. 

"Listen, you," he said, "we're lettin' you off this time. But 
you take back the word. If'n ever this here happens again, 
we'll jes' natcherally kick the hell outa whoever comes; 
we'll bust ever' bone in their body. Now you tell your boys 
that. Huston says you're our kinda folksmaybe. I'd hate to 
think it." 

They neared the fence. Two of the seated guards stood up 



The Grapes of Wrath 471 

and moved over. "Got some fellas goin' home early," said 
Willie. The three men climbed over the fence and disap- 
peared into the darkness. 

And the squad moved quickly back toward the dance 
floor. And the music of "OP Dan Tucker" skirled and 
whined from the string band. 

Over near the office the men still squatted and talked, and 
the shrill music came to them. 

Pa said, "They's change a-comin'. I don' know what. 
Maybe we won't live to see her. But she's a-comin'. They's 
a res'less feelin'. Fella can't figger nothin' out, he's so ner- 
vous." 

And Black Hat lifted his head up again, and the light fell 
on his bristly whiskers. He gathered some little rocks from 
the ground and shot them like marbles, with his thumb. "I 
don' know. She's a-comin' awright, like you say. Fella tol' 
me what happened in Akron, Ohio. Rubber companies. 
They got mountain people in 'cause they'd work cheap. An' 
these here mountain people up an' joined the union. Well, 
sir, hell jes' popped. All them storekeepers and legioners an' 
people like that, they get drillin' an' yellin', 'Red!' An' 
they're gonna run the union right outa Akron. Preachers git 
a-preachin' about it, an' papers a-yowlin', an' they's pick 
handles put out by the rubber companies, an' they're a- 
buyin' gas. Jesus, you'd think them mountain boys was 
reg'lar devils!" He stopped and found some more rocks to 
shoot. "Well, sir it was las' March, an' one Sunday five 
thousan' of them mountain men had a turkey shoot outside 
a town. Five thousan' of 'em jes' marched through town 
with their rifles. An' they had their turkey shoot, an' 
then they marched back. An' that's all they done. Well, sir, 
they ain't been no trouble sence then. These here citizens 



472 The Grapes of Wrath 

committees give back the pick handles, an' the storekeepers 
keep their stores, an' nobody been clubbed nor tarred an' 
feathered, an' nobody been killed." There was a long silence, 
and then Black Hat said, "They're gettin' purty mean out 
here. Burned that camp an' beat up folks. I been thinkin'. All 
our folks got guns. I been thinkin' maybe we ought to git 
up a turkey shootin' club an' have meetin's ever' Sunday." 

The men looked up at him, and then down at the ground, 
and their feet moved restlessly and they shifted their weight 
from one leg to the other. 



Chapter Twenty-Five 

THE spring is beautiful in California. Valleys in which 
the fruit blossoms are fragrant pink and white waters 
in a shallow sea. Then the first tendrils of the grapes, 
swelling from the old gnarled vines, cascade down to cover 
the trunks. The full green hills are round and soft as breasts. 
And on the level vegetable lands are the mile-long rows of 
pale green lettuce and the spindly little cauliflowers, the 
gray-green unearthly artichoke plants. 

And then the leaves break out on the trees, and the petals 
drop from the fruit trees and carpet the earth with pink and 
white. The centers of the blossoms swell and grow and 
color: cherries and apples, peaches and pears, figs which 
close the flower in the fruit. All California quickens with 
produce, and the fruit grows heavy, and the limbs bend 
gradually under the fruit so that little crutches must be 
placed under them to support the weight. 

Behind the fruitfulness are men of understanding and 
knowledge and skill, men who experiment with seed, end- 
lessly developing the techniques for greater crops of plants 
whose roots will resist the million enemies of the earth: the 
molds, the insects, the rusts, the blights. These men work 
carefully and endlessly to perfect the seed, the roots. And 
there are the men of chemistry who spray the trees against 
pests, who sulphur the grapes, who cut out disease and rots, 
mildews and sicknesses. Doctors of preventive medicine, men 

473 



474 The Grapes of Wrath 

at the borders who look for fruit flies, for Japanese beetle, 
men who quarantine the sick trees and root them out and 
burn them, men of knowledge. The men who graft the 
young trees, the little vines, are the cleverest of all, for theirs 
is a surgeon's job, as tender and delicate; and these men must 
have surgeons' hands and surgeons' hearts to slit the bark, to 
place the grafts, to bind the wounds and cover them from the 
air. These are great men. 

Along the rows, the cultivators move, tearing the spring 
grass and turning it under to make a fertile earth, breaking 
the ground to hold the water up near the surface, ridging the 
ground in little pools for the irrigation, destroying the weed 
roots that may drink the water away from the trees. 

And all the time the fruit swells and the flowers break out 
in long clusters on the vines. And in the growing year the 
warmth grows and the leaves turn dark green. The prunes 
lengthen like little green bird's eggs, and the limbs sag down 
against the crutches under the weight. And the hard little 
pears take shape, and the beginning of the fuzz comes out 
on the peaches. Grape blossoms shed their tiny petals and the 
hard little beads become green buttons, and the buttons grow 
heavy. The men who work in the fields, the owners of the 
little orchards, watch and calculate. The year is heavy with 
produce. And men are proud, for of their knowledge they 
can make the year heavy. They have transformed the world 
with their knowledge. The short, lean wheat has been made 
big and productive. Little sour apples. have grown large and 
sweet, and that old grape that grew among the trees and fed 
the birds its tiny fruit has mothered a thousand varieties, red 
and black, green and pale pink, purple and yellow; and each 
variety with its own flavor. The men who work in the ex- 
perimental farms have made new fruits: nectarines and forty 



The Grapes of Wrath 475 

kinds of plums, walnuts with paper shells. And always they 
work, selecting, grafting, changing, driving themselves, driv- 
ing the earth to produce. 

And first the cherries ripen. Cent and a half a pound. Hell, 
we can't pick 'em for that. Black cherries and red cherries, 
full and sweet, and the birds eat half of each cherry and the 
yellowjackets buzz into the holes the birds made. And on 
the ground the seeds drop and dry with black shreds hang- 
ing from them. 

The purple prunes soften and sweeten. My God, we can't 
pick them and dry and sulphur them. We can't pay wages, 
no matter what wages. And the purple prunes carpet the 
ground. And first the skins wrinkle a little and swarms of 
flies come to feast, and the valley is filled with the odor of 
sweet decay. The meat turns dark and the crop shrivels on 
the ground. 

And the pears grow yellow and soft. Five dollars a ton. 
Five dollars for forty fifty-pound boxes; trees pruned and 
sprayed, orchards cultivated pick the fruit, put it in boxes, 
load the trucks, deliver the fruit to the canneryforty boxes 

for five dollars. We can't do it. And the yellow fruit falls 

^ 

heavily to the ground and splashes on the ground. The yel- 
lowjackets dig into the soft meat, and there is a smell of 
ferment and rot. 

Then the grapes we can't make good wine. People can't 
buy good wine. Rip the grapes from the vines, good grapes, 
rotten grapes, wasp-stung grapes. Press stems, press dirt and 
rot. 

But there's mildew and formic acid in the vats. 

Add sulphur and tannic acid. 

The smell from the ferment is not the rich odor of wine, 
but the smell of decay and chemicals. 



476 The Grapes of Wrath 

Oh, well. It has alcohol in it, anyway. They can get drunk. 

The little farmers watched debt creep up on them like the 
tide. They sprayed the trees and sold no crop, they pruned 
and grafted and could not pick the crop. And the men of 
knowledge have worked, have considered, and the fruit is 
rotting on the ground, and the decaying mash in the wine 
vats is poisoning the air. And taste the wine no grape flavor 
at all, just sulphur and tannic acid and alcohol. 

This little orchard will be a part of a great holding next 
year, for the debt will have choked the owner. 

This vineyard will belong to the bank. Only the great 
owners can survive, for they own the canneries too. And 
four pears peeled and cut in half, cooked and canned, still 
cost fifteen cents. And the canned pears do not spoil. They 
will last for years. 

The decay spreads over the State, and the sweet smell is a 
great sorrow on the land. Men who can graft the trees and 
make the seed fertile and big can find no way to let the hun- 
gry people eat their produce. Men who have created new 
fruits in the world cannot create a system whereby their 
fruits may be eaten. And the failure hangs over the State like 
a great sorrow. 

The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be 
destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitter- 
est thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. 
The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could 
not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a 
dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men 
with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are 
angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to 
take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit 
and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. 



The Grapes of Wrath 477 

And the smell of rot fills the country. 

Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, 
it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place 
guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fish- 
ing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the 
putrescence drip down into the earth. 

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. 
There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. 
There is a failure here that topples all our success. The 
fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the 
ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because 
a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must 
fill in the certificates died of malnutrition because the food 
must rot, must be forced to rot. 

The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, 
and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to 
get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And 
they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the 
screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with 
quicklime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a 
putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the 
failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing 
wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are fill- 
ing and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage. 



Chapter Twenty-Six 

IN THE Weedpatch camp, on an evening when the long, 
barred clouds hung over the set sun and inflamed their 
edges, the Joad family lingered after their supper. Ma 
hesitated before she started to do the dishes. 

"We got to do somepin," she said. And she pointed at 
Winfield. "Look at 'im," she said. And when they stared at 
the little boy, "He's a-jerkin' an' a-twistin' in his sleep. 
Lookut his color." The members of the family looked at the 
earth again in shame. "Fried dough," Ma said. "One month 
we been here. An' Tom had five days' work. An' the rest 
of you scrabblin' out ever' day, an' no work. An' scairt to 
talk. An' the money gone. You're scairt to talk it out. Ever' 
night you jus' eat, an' then you get wanderin' away. Can't 
bear to talk it out. Well, you got to. Rosasharn ain't far from 
due, an' lookut her color. You got to talk it out. Now don't 
none of you get up till we figger somepin out. One day' 
more grease an' two days' flour, an' ten potatoes. You set 
here an' get busy!" 

They looked at the ground. Pa cleaned his thick nails with 
his pocket knife. Uncle John picked at a splinter on the box 
he sat on. Tom pinched his lower lip and pulled it away from 
his teeth. 

He released his lip and said softly, "We been a-lookin', Ma. 
Been walkin' out sence we can't use the gas no more. Been 
goin' in ever' gate, walkin' up to ever' house, even when we 

478 



The Grapes of Wrath 479 

knowed they wasn't gonna be nothin'. Puts a weight on ya. 
Coin' out lookin' for somepin you know you ain't gonna 
find." 

Ma said fiercely, "You ain't got the right to get discour- 
aged. This here fambly's goin' under. You jus' ain't got the 
right." 

Pa inspected his scraped nail. "We gotta go," he said. "We 
didn' wanta go. It's nice here, an' folks is nice here. We're 
feared we'll have to go live in one a them Hoovervilles." 

"Well, if we got to, we got to. First thing is, we got to 
eat." 

Al broke in. "I got a tankful a gas in the truck. I didn' let 
nobody get into that." 

Tom smiled. "This here Al got a lot of sense along with 
he's randy-pandy." 

"Now you figger," Ma said. "I ain't watchin' this here 
fambly starve no more. One day' more grease. That's what 
we got. Come time for Rosasharn to lay in, she got to be fed 
up. You figger!" 

"This here hot water an' toilets" Pa began. 

"Well, we can't eat no toilets." 

Tom said, "They was a fella come by today lookin' for 
men to go to Marysville. Pickin' fruit." 

"Well, why don' we go to Marysville?" Ma demanded. 

"I dunno," said Tom. "Didn' seem right, somehow. He was 
so anxious. Wouldn' say how much the pay was. Said he 
didn' know exactly." 

Ma said, "We're a-goin' to Marysville. I don' care what 
the pay is. We're a-goin'." 

"It's too far,' r said Tom. "We ain't got the money for 
gasoline. We couldn' get there. Ma, you say we got to figger. 
I ain't done nothin' but figger the whole time." 



480 The Grapes of Wrath 

Uncle John said, "Feller says they's cotton a-comin' in up 
north, near a place called Tulare. That ain't very far, the 
feller says." 

"Well, we got to git goin', an' goin' quick. I ain't a-settin' 
here no longer, no matter how nice." Ma took up her bucket 
and walked toward the sanitary unit for hot water. 

"Ma gets tough," Tom said. "I seen her a-gettin' mad quite 
a piece now. She jus' boils up." 

Pa said with relief, "Well, she brang it into the open, any- 
ways. I been layin' at night a-burnin' my brains up. Now we 
can talk her out, anyways." 

Ma came back with her bucket of steaming water. "Well," 
she demanded, "figger anything out?" 

"Jus' workin' her over," said Tom. "Now s'pose we jus' 
move up north where that cotton's at. We been over this 
here country. We know they ain't nothin' here. S'pose we 
pack up an' shove north. Then when the cotton's ready, we'll 
be there. I kinda like to get my han's aroun' some cotton. 
You got a full tank, Al?" 

"Almos' 'bout two inches down." 

"Should get us up to that place." 

Ma poised a dish over the bucket. "Well?" she demanded. 

Tom said, "You win. We'll move on, I guess. Huh, Pa?" 

"Guess we got to," Pa said. 

Ma glanced at him. "When?" 

"Well no need waitin'. Might's well go in the mornin'." 

"We got to go in the mornin'. I toF you what's lef '." 

"Now, Ma, don' think I don' wanta go. I ain't had a good 
gutful to eat in two weeks. 'Course I filled up, but I didn' 
take no good from it." 

Ma plunged the dish into the bucket. "We'll go in the 
mornin'," she said. 



The Grapes of Wrath 481 

Pa sniffled. "Seems like times is changed," he said sar- 
castically. "Time was when a man said what we'd do. Seems 
like women is tellin' now. Seems like it's purty near time to 
get out a stick." 

Ma put the clean dripping tin dish out on a box. She 
smiled down at her work. "You get your stick, Pa," she said. 
"Times when they's food an' a place to set, then maybe you 
can use your stick an' keep your skin whole. But you ain't 
a-doin' your job, either a-thinkin' or a-workin'. If you was, 
why, you could use your stick, an' women folks'd sniffle 
their nose an' creep-mouse aroun'. But you jus' get you a 
stick now an' you ain't lickin' no woman; you're a-fightin', 
'cause I got a stick all laid out too." 

Pa grinned with embarrassment. "Now it ain't good to 
have the little fellas hear you talkin' like that," he said. 

"You get some bacon inside the little fellas 'fore you come 
tellin' what else is good for 'em," said Ma. 

Pa got up in disgust and moved away, and Uncle John fol- 
lowed him. 

Ma's hands were busy in the water, but she watched them 
go, and she said proudly to Tom, "He's all right. He ain't 
beat. He's like as not to take a smack at me." 

Tom laughed. "You jus' a-treadin' him on?" 

"Sure," said Ma. "Take a man, he can get worried an' wor- 
ried, an' it eats out his liver, an' purty soon he'll jus' lay 
down and die with his heart et out. But if you can take an' 
make 'im mad, why, he'll be awright. Pa, he didn' say nothing 
but he's mad now. He'll show me now. He's awright." 

Al got up. "I'm gonna walk down the row," he said. 

"Better see the truck's ready to go," Tom warned him. 

"She's ready." 

"If she ain't, I'll turn Ma on ya." 



482 The Grapes of Wrath 

"She's ready." Al strolled jauntily along the row of tents. 
Tom sighed. "I'm a-gettin' tired, Ma. How 'bout makin' 
me mad?" 

"You got more sense, Tom. I don' need to make you mad. 
I got to lean on you. Them othersthey're kinda strangers, 
all but you. You won't give up, Tom." 

The job fell on him. "I don' like it," he said. "I wanta go 
out like Al. An' I wanta get mad like Pa, an' I wanta get 
drunk like Uncle John." 

Ma shook her head. "You can't, Tom. I know. I knowed 
from the time you was a little fella. You can't. They's some 
folks that's just theirself an' nothin' more. There's Al he's 
jus' a young fella after a girl. You wasn't never like that, 
Tom." 

"Sure I was," said Tom. "Still am." 

"No you ain't. Ever'thing you do is more'n you. When 
they sent you up to prison I knowed it. You're spoke for." 

"Now, Ma cut it out. It ain't true. It's all in your head." 

She stacked the knives and forks on top of the plates. 
"Maybe. Maybe it's in my head. Rosasharn, you wipe Up 
these here an' put 'em away." 

The girl got breathlessly to her feet and her swollen mid- 
dle hung out in front of her. She moved sluggishly to the box 
and picked up a washed dish. 

Tom said, "Gettin' so rightful it's a-pullin' her eyes wide." 

"Don't you go a-jollyin'," said Ma. "She's doin' good. You 
go 'long an' say goo'-by to anybody you wan'." 

"O.K.," he said, "I'm gonna see how far it is up there." 

Ma said to the girl, "He ain't sayin' stuff like that to make 
you feel bad. Where's Ruthie an' WinfieP?" 

"They snuck off after Pa. I seen 'em." 

"Well, leave 'em go." 



The Grapes of Wrath 483 

Rose of Sharon moved sluggishly about her work. Ma in- 
spected her cautiously. "You feelin' pretty good? Your 
cheeks is kinda saggy." 

"I ain't had milk like they said I ought." 

"I know. We jus' didn' have no milk." 

Rose of Sharon said dully, "Ef Connie hadn' went away, 
we'd a had a little house by now, with him studyin' an' all. 
Would a got milk like I need. Would a had a nice baby. This 
here baby ain't gonna be no good. I ought a had milk." She 
reached in her apron pocket and put something into her 
mouth. 

Ma said, "I seen you nibblin' on somepin. What you 
eatin'?" 

"NothinV 

"Come on, what you nibblin' on?" 

"Jus' a piece a slack lime. Foun' a big hunk." 

"Why, tha's jus' like eatin' dirt." 

"I kinda feel like I wan' it." 

Ma was silent. She spread her knees and tightened her 
skirt. "I know," she said at last. "I et coal oncet when I was 
in a fambly way. Et a big piece a coal. Granma says I 
shouldn'. Don' you say that about the baby. You got no right 
even to think it." 4 

"Got no husban'! Got no milk!" 

Ma said, "If you was a well girl, I'd take a whang at you. 
Right in the face." She got up and went inside the tent. She 
came out and stood in front of Rose of Sharon, and she held 
out her hand. "Look!" The small gold earrings were in her 
hand. "These is for you." 

The girl's eyes brightened for a moment, and then she 
looked aside. "I ain't pierced." 

"Well, I'm a-gonna pierce ya." Ma hurried back into the 



484 The Grapes of Wrath 

tent. She came back with a cardboard box. Hurriedly she 
threaded a needle, doubled the thread and tied a series of 
knots in it. She threaded a second needle and knotted the 
thread. In the box she found a piece of cork. 

"It'll hurt. It'll hurt." 

Ma stepped to her, put the cork in back of the ear lobe and 
pushed the needle through the ear, into the cork. 

The girl twitched. "It sticks. It'll hurt." 

"No more'n that." 

"Yes, it will." 

"Well, then. Le's see the other ear first." She placed the 
cork and pierced the other ear. 

"It'll hurt." 

"Hush!" said Ma. "It's all done." 

Rose of Sharon looked at her in wonder. Ma clipped the 
needles off and pulled one knot of each thread through the 
lobes. 

"Now," she said. "Ever' day we'll pull one knot, and in a 
couple weeks it'll be all well an' you can wear 'em. Here 
they're your'n now. You can keep 'em." 

Rose of Sharon touched her ears tenderly and looked at 
the tiny spots of blood on her fingers. "It didn' hurt. Jus' 
stuck a little." 

"You oughta been pierced long ago," said Ma. She looked 
at the girl's face, and she smiled in triumph. "Now get them 
dishes all done up. Your baby gonna be a good baby. Very 
near let you have a baby without your ears was pierced. But 
you're safe now." 

"Does it mean somepin?" 

"Why, 'course it does," said Ma. " 'Course it does." 



The Grapes of Wrath 485 

Al strolled down the street toward the dancing platform. 
Outside a neat little tent he whistled softly, and then moved 
along the street. He walked to the edge of the grounds and 
sat down in the grass. 

The clouds over the west had lost the red edging now, 
and the cores were black. Al scratched his legs and looked 
toward the evening sky. 

In a few moments a blond girl walked near; she was pretty 
and sharp-featured. She sat down in the grass beside him and 
did not speak. Al put his hand on her waist and walked his 
fingers around. 

"Don't," she said. "You tickle." 

"We're goin' away tomorra," said Al. 

She looked at him, startled. "Tomorra? Where?" 

"Up north," he said lightly. 

"Well, we're gonna git married, ain't we?" 

"Sure, sometime." 

"You said purty soon!" she cried angrily. 

"Well, soon is when soon comes." 

"You promised." He walked his fingers around farther. 
"Git away," she cried. "You said we was." 

"Well, sure we are." 

"An' now you're goin' away." 

Al demanded, "What's the matter with you? You in a 
fambly way?" 

"No, I ain't." 

Al laughed. "I jus' been wastin' my time, huh?" 

Her chin shot out. She jumped to her feet. "You git away 
from me, Al Joad. I don' wanta see you no more." 

"Aw, come on. What's the matter?" 

"You think you're jus' hell on wheels." 



486 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Now wait a minute." 

"You think I got to go out with you. Well, I don't! I got 
lots a chances." 

"Now wait a minute." 

"No, sir you git away." 

Al lunged suddenly, caught her by the ankle, and tripped 
her. He grabbed her when she fell and held her and put his 
hand over her angry mouth. She tried to bite his palm, but 
he cupped it out over her mouth, and he held her down with 
his other arm. And in a moment she lay still, and in another 
moment they were giggling together in the dry grass. 

"Why, we'll be a-comin' back purty soon," said Al. "An' 
I'll have a pocketful a jack. We'll go down to Hollywood 
an' see the pitchers." 

She was lying on her back. Al bent over her. And he saw 
the bright evening star reflected in her eyes, and he saw the 
black cloud reflected in her eyes. "We'll go on the train," he 
said. 

"How long ya think it'll be?" she asked. 

"Oh, maybe a month," he said. 

The evening dark came down and Pa and Uncle John 
squatted with the heads of families out by the office. They 
studied the night and the future. The little manager, in his 
white clothes, frayed and clean, rested his elbows on the 
porch rail. His face was drawn and tired. 

Huston looked up at him. "You better get some sleep, 
mister." 

"I guess I ought. Baby born last night in Unit Three. I'm 
getting to be a good midwife." 

"Fella oughta know," said Huston. "Married fella got to 
know." 



The Grapes of Wrath 487 

Pa said, "We're a-gittin' out in the mornin'." 

"Yeah? Which way you goin'?" 

"Thought we'd go up north a little. Try to get in the first 
cotton. We ain't had work. We're outa food." 

"Know if they's any work?" Huston asked. 

"No, but we're sure they ain't none here." 

"They will be, a little later," Huston said. "We'll hold on." 

"We hate to go," said Pa. "Folks been so nice here an' 
the toilets an' all. But we got to eat. Got a tank of gas. That'll 
get us a little piece up the road. We had a bath ever' day 
here. Never was so clean in my life. Funny thing use ta be 
I on'y got a bath ever' week an' I never seemed to stink. But 
now if I don't get one ever' day I stink. Wonder if takin' a 
bath so often makes that?" 

"Maybe you couldn't smell yourself before," the manager 
said. 

"Maybe. I wisht we could stay." 

The little manager held his temples between his palms. 
"I think there's going to be another baby tonight," he said. 

"We gonna have one in our fambly 'fore long," said Pa. 
"I wisht we could have it here. I sure wisht we could." 

Tom and Willie and Jule the half-breed sat on the edge 
of the dance floor and swung their feet. 

"I got a sack of Durham," Jule said. "Like a smoke?" 

"I sure would," said Tom. "Ain't had a smoke for a hell of 
a time." He rolled the brown cigarette carefully, to keep 
down the loss of tobacco. 

"Well, sir, we'll be sorry to see you go," said Willy. "You 
folks is good folks." 

Tom lighted his cigarette. "I been thinkin' about it a lot. 
Jesus Christ, I wisht we could settle down." 



488 The Grapes of Wrath 

Jule took back his Durham. "It ain't nice," he said. "I got 
a little girl. Thought when I come out here she'd get some 
schoolin'. But hell, we ain't in one place hardly long enough. 
Jes' gits goin' an' we got to drag on." 

"I hope we don't get in no more Hoovervilles," said Tom. 
"I was really scairt, there." 

"Deputies push you aroun'?" 

"I was scairt I'd kill somebody," said Tom. "Was on'y 
there a little while, but I was a-stewin' aroun' the whole time. 
Depity come in an' picked up a frien', jus' because he talked 
outa turn. I was jus' stewin' all the time." 

"Ever been in a strike?" Willie asked. 

"No." 

"Well, I been a-thinkin' a lot. Why don' them depities 
get in here an' raise hell like ever' place else? Think that lit- 
tle guy in the office is a-stoppin' 'em? No, sir." 

"Well, what is?" Jule asked. 

"I'll tell ya. It's 'cause we're all a-workin' together. Depity 
can't pick on one fella in this camp. He's pickin' on the 
whole darn camp. An' he don't dare. All we got to do is give 
a yell an' they's two hunderd men out. Fella organizin' for 
the union was a-talkin' out on the road. He says we could do 
that any place. Jus' stick together. They ain't raisin' hell with 
no two hunderd men. They're pickin' on one man." 

"Yeah," said Jule, "an' suppose you got a union? You got 
to have leaders. They'll jus' pick up your leaders, an' where's 
your union?" 

"Well," said Willie, "we got to figure her out some time. 
I been out here a year, an' wages is goin' right on down. 
Fella can't feed his fam'ly on his work now, an' it's gettin' 
worse all the time. It ain't gonna do no good to set aroun' 
an' starve. I don' know what to do. If a fella owns a team a 



The Grapes of Wrath 489 

horses, he don't raise no hell if he got to feed 'em when they 
ain't workin'. But if a fella got men workin' for him, he jus' 
don't give a damn. Horses is a hell of a lot more worth than 
men. I don' understan' it." 

"Gets so I don' wanta think about it," said Jule. "An' I 
got to think about it. I got this here little girl. You know how 
purty she is. One week they give her a prize in this camp 
'cause she's so purty. Well, what's gonna happen to her? 
She's gettin' spindly. I ain't gonna stan' it. She's so purty. 
I'm gonna bust out." 

"How?" Willie asked. "What you gonna do steal some 
stuff an' git in jail? Kill somebody an' git hung?" 

"I don' know," said Jule. "Gits me nuts thinkin' about it. 
Gets me clear nuts." 

"I'm a-gonna miss them dances," Tom said. "Them was 
some of the nicest dances I ever seen. Well, I'm gonna turn 
in. So long. I'll be seein' you someplace." He shook hands. 

"Sure will," said Jule. 

"Well, so long." Tom moved away into the darkness. 

In the darkness of the Joad tent Ruthie and Winfield lay 
on their mattress, and Ma lay beside them. Ruthie whispered, 
"Ma!" 

"Yeah? Ain't you asleep yet?" 

"Ma they gonna have croquet where we're goin'?" 

"I don' know. Get some sleep. We want to get an early 



start." 



"Well, I wisht we'd stay here where we're sure we got 
croquet." 
"Sh!" said Ma. 

"Ma, Winfiel' hit a kid tonight." 
"He shouldn' of." 



490 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I know. I tol' 'im, but he hit the kid right in the nose an', 
Jesus, how the blood run down!" 

"Don' talk like that. It ain't a nice way to talk." 

Winfield turned over. "That kid says we was Okies," he 
said in an outraged voice. "He says he wasn't no Okie 'cause 
he come from Oregon. Says we was goddamn Okies. I 
socked him." 

"Sh! You shouldn'. He can't hurt you callin' names.'* 

"Well, I won't let 'im," Winfield said fiercely. 

"Sh! Get some sleep." 

Ruthie said, "You oughta seen the blood run down all 
over his clothes." 

Ma reached a hand from under the blanket and snapped 
Ruthie on the cheek with her finger. The little girl went 
rigid for a moment, and then dissolved into sniffling, quiet 
crying. 

In the sanitary unit Pa and Uncle John sat in adjoining 
compartments. "Might's well get in a good las' one," said 
Pa. "It's sure nice. 'Member how the little fellas was so 
scairt when they flushed 'em the first time?" 

"I wasn't so easy myself," said Uncle John. He pulled his 
overalls neatly up around his knees. "I'm gettin' bad," he 
said. "I feel sin." 

"You can't sin none," said Pa. "You ain't got no money. 
Jus' sit tight. Cos' you at leas' two bucks to sin, an' we ain't 
got two bucks amongst us." 

"Yeah! But I'm a-thinkin' sin." 

"Awright. You can think sin for nothin'." 

"It's jus' as bad," said Uncle John. 

"It's a whole hell of a lot cheaper," said Pa. 

"Don't you go makin' light of sin." 



The Grapes of Wrath 491 

"I ain't. You jus' go ahead. You always gets sinful jus* 
when hell's a-poppin'." 

"I know it," said Uncle John. "Always was that way. I 
never tol' half the stuff I done." 

"Well, keep it to yaself." 

"These here nice toilets gets me sinful." 

"Go out in the bushes then. Come on, pull up ya pants an' 
le's get some sleep." Pa pulled his overall straps in place and 
snapped the buckle. He flushed the toilet and watched 
thoughtfully while the water whirled in the bowl. 

It was still dark when Ma roused her camp. The low night 
lights shone through the open doors of the sanitary units. 
From the tents along the road came the assorted snores of the 
campers. 

Ma said, "Come on, roll out. We got to be on our way. 
Day's not far off." She raised the screechy shade of the lan- 
tern and lighted the wick. "Come on, all of you." 

The floor of the tent squirmed into slow action. Blankets 
and comforts were thrown back and sleepy eyes squinted 
blindly at the light. Ma slipped on her dress over the under- 
clothes she wore to bed. "We got no coffee," she said. "I got 
a few biscuits. We can eat 'em on the road. Jus' get up now, 
an' we'll load the truck. Come on now. Don't make no noise. 
Don' wanta wake the neighbors." 

It was a few moments before they were fully aroused. 
"Now don' you get away," Ma warned the children. The 
family dressed. The men pulled down the tarpaulin and 
loaded up the truck. "Make it nice an' flat," Ma warned them. 
They piled the mattress on top of the load and bound the 
tarpaulin in place over its ridge pole. 

"Awright, Ma," said Tom. "She's ready." 



492 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma held a plate of cold biscuits in her hand. "Awright. 
Here. Each take one. It's all we got." 

Ruthie and Winfield grabbed their biscuits and climbed up 
on the load. They covered themselves with a blanket and 
went back to sleep, still holding the cold hard biscuits in 
their hands. Tom got into the driver's seat and stepped on the 
starter. It buzzed a little, and then stopped. 

"Goddamn you, Al!" Tom cried. "You let the battery run 
down." 

Al blustered, "How the hell was I gonna keep her up if I 
ain't got gas to run her?" 

Tom chuckled suddenly. "Well, I don' know how, but 
it's your fault. You got to crank her." 

"I tell you it ain't my fault." 

Tom got out and found the crank under the seat. "It's my 
fault," he said. 

"Gimme that crank." Al seized it. "Pull down the spark so 
she don't take my arm off." 

"O.K. Twist her tail." 

Al labored at the crank, around and around. The engine 
caught, spluttered, and roared as Tom choked the car deli- 
cately. He raised the spark and reduced the throttle. 

Ma climbed in beside him. "We woke up ever'body in the 
camp," she said. 

"They'll go to sleep again." 

Al climbed in on the other side. "Pa V Uncle John got up 
top," he said. "Coin' to sleep again." 

Tom drove toward the main gate. The watchman came out 
of the office and played his flashlight on the truck. "Wait a 
minute." 

" What y a want?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 493 

"Youcheckin'out?" 

"Sure." 

"Well, I got to cross you off." 

"O.K." 

"Know which way you're goin'?" 

"Well, we're gonna try up north." 

"Well, good luck," said the watchman. 

"Same to you. So long." 

The truck edged slowly over the big hump and into the 
road. Tom retraced the road he had driven before, past 
Weedpatch and west until he came to 99, then north on the 
great paved road, toward Bakersfield. It was growing light 
when he came into the outskirts of the city. 

Tom said, "Ever' place you look is restaurants. An' them 
places all got coffee. Lookit that all-nighter there. Bet they 
got ten gallons a coffee in there, all hot!" 

"Aw, shut up," said Al. 

Tom grinned over at him. "Well, I see you got yaself a 
girl right off." 

"Well, what of it?" 

"He's mean this mornin', Ma. He ain't good company." 

Al said irritably, "I'm goin' out on my own purty soon. 
Fella can make his way lot easier if he ain't got a fambly." 

Tom said, "You'd have yaself a fambly in nine months. I 
seen you playin' aroun'." 

"Ya crazy," said Al. "I'd get myself a job in a garage an' I'd 



eat in restaurants " 



"An' you'd have a wife an' kid in nine months." 
"I tell ya I wouldn'." 

Tom said, "You're a wise guy, Al. You gonna take some 
beatin' over the head." 



494 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Who's gonna do it?" 

"They'll always be guys to do it," said Tom. 

"You think jus' because you " 

"Now you jus' stop that," Ma broke in. 

"I done it," said Tom. "I was a-badgerin' him. I didn' mean 
no harm, Al. I didn' know you liked that girl so much." 

"I don't like no girls much." 

"Awright, then, you don't. You ain't gonna get no argu- 
ment out of me." 

The truck came to the edge of the city. "Look a them hot- 
dog Stan's hunderds of 'em," said Tom. 

Ma said, "Tom! I got a dollar put away. You wan' coffee 
bad enough to spen' it?" 

"No, Ma. I'm jus' foolin'." 

"You can have it if you wan' it bad enough." 

"Iwouldn'takeit." 

Al said, "Then shut up about coffee." 

Tom was silent for a time. "Seems like I got my foot in it 
all the time," he said. "There's the road we run up that 
night." 

"I hope we don't never have nothin' like that again," said 
Ma. "That was a bad night." 

"I didn' like it none either." 

The sun rose on their right, and the great shadow of the 
truck ran beside them, flicking over the fence posts beside 
the road. They ran on past the rebuilt Hooverville. 

"Look," said Tom. "They got new people there. Looks 
like the same place." 

Al came slowly out of his sullenness. "Fella tol' me some 
a them people been burned out fifteen-twenty times. Says 
they jus' go hide down the willows an' then they come out 
an' build 'em another weed shack. Jus' like gophers. Got so 



The Grapes of Wrath 495 

use' to it they don't even get mad no more, this fella says. 
They jus' figger it's like bad weather." 

"Sure was bad weather for me that night," said Tom. They 
moved up the wide highway. And the sun's warmth made 
them shiver. "Gettin' snappy in the mornin'," said Tom. 
"Winter's on the way. I jus' hope we can get some money 
'fore it comes. Tent ain't gonna be nice in the winter." 

Ma sighed, and then she straightened her head. "Tom," she 
said, "we gotta have a house in the winter. I tell ya we got 
to. Ruthie's awright, but WinfieP ain't so strong. We got to 
have a house when the rains come. I heard it jus' rains cats 
aroun' here." 

"We'll get a house, Ma. You res' easy. You gonna have a 
house." 

"Jus' so's it's got a roof an' a floor. Jus' to keep the little 
fellas off'n the groun'." 

"We'll try, Ma." 

"I don' wanna worry ya now." 

"We'll try, Ma." 

"I jus' get panicky sometimes," she said. "I jus' lose my 
spunk." 

"I never seen you when you lost it." 

"Nights I do, sometimes." 

There came a harsh hissing from the front of the truck. 
Tom grabbed the wheel tight and he thrust the brake down 
to the floor. The truck bumped to a stop. Tom sighed. 
"Well, there she is." He leaned back in the seat. Al leaped 
out and ran to the right front tire. 

"Great big nail," he called. 

"We got any tire patch?" 

"No," said Al. "Used it all up. Got patch, but no glue 
stuff." 



496 The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom turned and smiled sadly at Ma. "You shouldn' a toP 
about that dollar," he said. "We'd a fixed her some way." 
He got out of the car and went to the flat tire. 

Al pointed to a big nail protruding from the flat casing. 
"There she is!" 

"If they's one nail in the county, we run over it." 

"Is it bad? "Ma called. 

"No, not bad, but we got to fix her." 

The family piled down from the top of the truck. "Punc- 
ture?" Pa asked, and then he saw the tire and was silent. 

Tom moved Ma from the seat and got the can of tire patch 
from underneath the cushion. He unrolled the rubber patch 
and took out the tube of cement, squeezed it gently. "She's 
almos' dry," he said. "Maybe they's enough. Awright, Al. 
Block the back wheels. Le's get her jacked up." 

Tom and Al worked well together. They put stones be- 
hind the wheels, put the jack under the front axle, and lifted 
the weight off the limp casing. They ripped off the casing. 
They found the hole, dipped a rag in the gas tank and washed 
the tube around the hole. And then, while Al held the tube 
tight over his knee, Tom tore the cement tube in two and 
spread the little fluid thinly on the rubber with his pocket 
knife. He scraped the gum delicately. "Now let her dry 
while I cut a patch." He trimmed and beveled the edge of 
the blue patch. Al held the tube tight while Tom put the 
patch tenderly in place. "There! Now bring her to the run- 
ning board while I tap her with a hammer." He pounded the 
patch carefully, then stretched the tube and watched the 
edges of the patch. "There she is! She's gonna hold. Stick her 
on the rim an' we'll pump her up. Looks like you keep your 
buck, Ma." 



The Grapes of Wrath 497 

Al said, "I wisht we had a spare. We got to get us a spare, 
Tom, on a rim an' all pumped up. Then we can fix a punc- 
ture at night." 

"When we get money for a spare well get us some coffee 
an' side-meat instead," Tom said. 

The light morning traffic buzzed by on the highway, and 
the sun grew warm and bright. A wind, gentle and sighing, 
blew in puffs from the southwest, and the mountains on both 
sides of the great valley were indistinct in a pearly mist. 

Tom was pumping at the tire when a roadster, coming 
from the north, stopped on the other side of the road. A 
brown-faced man dressed in a light gray business suit got 
out and walked aqross to the truck. He was bareheaded. He 
smiled, and his teeth were very white against his brown skin. 
He wore a massive gold wedding ring on the third finger of 
his left hand. A little gold football hung on a slender chain 
across his vest. 

"Morning," he said pleasantly. 

Tom stopped pumping and looked up. "MorninV 

The man ran his fingers through his coarse, short, graying 
hair. "You people looking for work?" 

"We sure are, mister. Lookin' even under boards." 

"Can you pick peaches?" 

"We never done it," Pa said. 

"We can do anything," Tom said hurriedly. "We can pick 
anything there is." 

The man fingered his gold football. "Well, there's plenty 
of work for you about forty miles north." 

"We'd sure admire to get it," said Tom. "You tell us how 
to get there, an' we'll go a-lopin'." 

"Well, you go north to Pixley, that's thirty-five or -six 



498 The Grapes of Wrath 

miles, and you turn east. Go about six miles. Ask anybody 

where the Hooper ranch is. You'll find plenty of work 

there." 

"We sure will." 

"Know where there's other people looking for work?" 

"Sure," said Tom. "Down at the Weedpatch camp they's 
plenty lookin' for work." 

"I'll take a run down there. We can use quite a few. Re- 
member now, turn east at Pixley and keep straight east to 
the Hooper ranch." 

"Sure," said Tom. "An* we thank ya, mister. We need 
work awful bad." 

"All right. Get along as soon as you can." He walked back 
across the road, climbed into his open roadster, and drove 
away south. 

Tom threw his weight on the pump. "Twenty apiece," 
he called. "Onetwo three four " At twenty Al took the 
pump, and then Pa and then Uncle John. The tire filled out 
and grew plump and smooth. Three times around, the pump 
went. "Let 'er down an' le's see," said Tom. 

Al released the jack and lowered the car. "Got plenty," 
he said. "Maybe a little too much." 

They threw the tools into the car. "Come on, le's go," 
Tom called. "We're gonna get some work at last." 

Ma got in the middle again. Al drove this time. 

"Now take her easy. Don't burn her up, AL" 

They drove on through the sunny morning fields. The 
mist lifted from the hilltops and they were clear and brown, 
with black-purple creases. The wild doves flew up from the 
fences as the truck passed. Al unconsciously increased his 
speed. 

"Easy," Tom warned him. "She'll blow up if you crowd 



The Grapes of Wrath 499 

her. We got to get there. Might even get in some work to- 
day." 

Ma said excitedly, "With four men a-workin' maybe I can 
get some credit right off. Fust thing I'll get is coffee, 'cause 
you been wanting that, an' then some flour an' bakin' powder 
an' some meat. Better not get no side-meat right off. Save 
that for later. Maybe Sat'dy. An' soap. Got to get soap. 
Wonder where we'll stay." She babbled on. "An' milk. I'll 
get some milk 'cause Rosasharn, she ought to have milk. The 
lady nurse says that." 

A snake wriggled across the warm highway. Al zipped 
over and ran it down and came back to his own lane. 

"Gopher snake," said Tom. "You oughtn't to done that." 

"I hate 'em," said Al gaily. "Hate all kinds. Give me the 
stomach-quake." 

The forenoon traffic on the highway increased, salesmen 
in shiny coupes with the insignia of their companies painted 
on the doors, red and white gasoline trucks dragging clink- 
ing chains behind them, great square-doored vans from 
wholesale grocery houses, delivering produce. The country 
was rich along the roadside. There were orchards, heavy 
leafed in their prime, and vineyards with the long green 
crawlers carpeting the ground between the rows. There 
were melon patches and grain fields. White houses stood in 
the greenery, roses growing over them. And the sun was 
gold and warm. 

In the front seat of the truck Ma and Tom and Al were 
overcome with happiness. "I ain't really felt so good for a 
long time," Ma said. " 'F we pick plenty peaches we might 
get a house, pay rent even, for a couple months. We got to 
have a house." 

Al said, "I'm a-gonna save up. I'll save up an' then I'm 



500 The Grapes of Wrath 

a-goin' in a town an' get me a job in a garage. Live in a 
room an' eat in restaurants. Go to the movin' pitchers ever' 
damn night. Don' cost much. Cowboy pitchers." His hands 
tightened on the wheel. 

The radiator bubbled and hissed steam. "Did you fill her 
up? "Tom asked. 

"Yeah. Wind's kinda behind us. That's what makes her 
boil." 

"It's a awful nice day," Tom said. "Use' ta work there in 
McAlester an' think all the things I'd do. I'd go in a straight 
line way to hell an' gone an' never stop nowheres. Seems like 
a long time ago. Seems like it's years ago I was in. They was 
a guard made it tough. I was gonna lay for 'im. Guess that's 
what makes me mad at cops. Seems like ever' cop got his 
face. He use' ta get red in the face. Looked like a pig. Had a 
brother out west, they said. Use' ta get fellas paroled to his 
brother, an' then they had to work for nothin'. If they raised 
a stink, they'd get sent back for breakin' parole. That's what 
the fellers said." 

"Don' think about it," Ma begged him. "I'm a-gonna lay 
in a lot a stuff to eat. Lot a flour an' lard." 

"Might's well think about it," said Tom. "Try to shut it 
out, an' it'll whang back at me. They was a screwball. Never 
toP you 'bout him. Looked like Happy Hooligan. Harmless 
kinda fella. Always was gonna make a break. Fellas all called 
him Hooligan." Tom laughed to himself. 

"Don' think about it," Ma begged. 

"Go on," said Al. "Tell about the fella." 

"It don't hurt nothin', Ma," Tom said. "This fella was 
always gonna break out. Make a plan, he would; but he 
couldn' keep it to hisself an' purty soon ever'body knowed 
it, even the warden. He'd make his break an' they'd take 'im 



The Grapes of Wrath 501 

by the han' an* lead 'im back. Well, one time he drawed a 
plan where he's goin' over. 'Course he showed it aroun', an' 
ever'body kep' still. An' he hid out, an' ever'body kep' still. 
So he's got himself a rope somewheres, an' he goes over the 
wall. They's six guards outside with a great big sack, an' 
Hooligan comes quiet down the rope an' they jus' hoi' the 
sack out an' he goes right inside. They tie up the mouth an' 
take 'im back inside. Fellas laughed so hard they like to died. 
But it busted Hooligan's spirit. He jus' cried an' cried, an' 
moped aroun' an' got sick. Hurt his feelin's so bad. Cut his 
wrists with a pin an' bled to death 'cause his feelin's was hurt. 
No harm in 'im at all. They's all kinds a screwballs in stir." 

"Don' talk about it," Ma said. "I knowed Purty Boy 
Floyd's ma. He wan't a bad boy. Jus' got drove in a cor- 
ner." 

The sun moved up toward noon and the shadow of the 
truck grew lean and moved in under the wheels. 

"Mus' be Pixley up the road," Al said. "Seen a sign a little 
back." They drove into the little town and turned eastward 
on a narrower road. And the orchards lined the way and 
made an aisle. 

"Hope we can find her easy," Tom said. 

Ma said, "That fella said the Hooper ranch. Said any- 
body'd tell us. Hope they's a store near by. Might get some 
credit, with four men workin'. I could get a real nice supper 
if they'd gimme some credit. Make up a big stew maybe." 

"An' coffee," said Tom. "Might even get me a sack a 
Durham. I ain't had no tobacca of my own for a long time." 

Far ahead the road was blocked with cars, and a line of 
white motorcycles was drawn up along the roadside. "Mus' 
be a wreck," Tom said. 

As they drew near a State policeman, in boots and Sam 



502 The Grapes of Wrath 

Browne belt, stepped around the last parked car. He held up 
his hand and Al pulled to a stop. The policeman leaned con- 
fidentially on the side of the car. "Where you going?" 

Al said, * Telia said they was work pickin' peaches up this 
way." 

"Want to work, do you?" 

"Damn right," said Tom. 

"O.K. Wait here a minute." He moved to the side of the 
road and called ahead. "One more. That's six cars ready. 
Better take this batch through." 

Tom called, "Hey! What's the matter?" 

The patrol man lounged back. "Got a little trouble up 
ahead. Don't you worry. You'll get through. Just follow the 
line." 

There came the splattering blast of motorcycles starting. 
The line of cars moved on, with the Joad truck last. Two 
motorcycles led the way, and two followed. 

Tom said uneasily, "I wonder what's a matter." 

"Maybe the road's out," Al suggested. 

"Don' need four cops to lead us. I don' like it." 

The motorcycles ahead speeded up. The line of old cars 
speeded up. Al hurried to keep in back of the last car. 

"These here is our own people, all of 'em," Tom said. "I 
don' like this." 

Suddenly the leading policemen turned off the road into a 
wide graveled entrance. The old cars whipped after them. 
The motorcycles roared their motors. Tom saw a line of men 
standing in the ditch beside the road, saw their mouths open 
as though they were yelling, saw their shaking fists and their 
furious faces. A stout woman ran toward the cars, but a 
roaring motorcycle stood in her way. A high wire gate 
swung open. The six old cars moved through and the gate 



The Grapes of Wrath 503 

closed behind them. The four motorcycles turned and sped 
back in the direction from which they had come. And now 
that the motors were gone, the distant yelling of the men in 
the ditch could be heard. Two men stood beside the graveled 
road. Each one carried a shotgun. 

One called, u Go on, go on. What the hell are you waiting 
for?" The six cars moved ahead, turned a bend and came sud- 
denly on the peach camp. 

There were fifty little square, flat-roofed boxes, each with 
a door and a window, and the whole group in a square. A 
water tank stood high on one edge of the camp. And a little 
grocery store stood on the other side. At the end of each row 
of square houses stood two men armed with shotguns and 
wearing big silver stars pinned to their shirts. 

The six cars stopped. Two bookkeepers moved from car to 
car. "Want to work?" 

Tom answered, "Sure, but what is this?" 

"That's not your affair. Want to work?" 

"Sure we do." 

"Name?" 

"Joad." 

"How many men?" 

"Four." 

"Women?" 

"Two." 

"Kids?" 

"Two." 

"Can all of you work?" 

"Why-I guess so." 

"O.K. Find house sixty-three. Wages five cents a box. No 
bruised fruit. All right, move along now. Go to work right 
away." 



504 The Grapes of Wrath 

The cars moved on. On the door of each square red house 
a number was painted. "Sixty," Tom said. "There's sixty. 
Must be down that way. There, sixty-one, sixty-two There 
she is." 

Al parked the truck close to the door of the little house. 
The family came down from the top of the truck and looked 
about in bewilderment. Two deputies approached. They 
looked closely into each face. 

"Name?" 

"Joad," Tom said impatiently. "Say, what is this here?" 

One of the deputies took out a long list. "Not here. Ever 
see these here? Look at the license. Nope. Ain't got it. Guess 
they're O.K." 

"Now you look here. We don't want no trouble with you. 
Jes' do your work and mind your own business and you'll be 
all right." The two turned abruptly and walked away. At the 
end of the dusty street they sat down on two boxes and their 
position commanded the length of the street. 

Tom stared after them. "They sure do wanta make us feel 
at home." 

Ma opened the door of the house and stepped inside. The 
floor was splashed with grease. In the one room stood a rusty 
tin stove and nothing more. The tin stove rested on four 
bricks and its rusty stovepipe went up through the roof. The 
room smelled of sweat and grease. Rose of Sharon stood be- 
side Ma. "We gonna live here?" 

Ma was silent for a moment. "Why, sure," she said at last. 
"It ain't so bad once we wash it out. Get her mopped." 

"I like the tent better," the girl said. 

"This got a floor," Ma suggested. "This here wouldn' leak 
when it rains." She turned to the door. "Might as well un- 
load," she said. 



The Grapes of Wrath 505 

The men unloaded the truck silently. A fear had fallen on 
them. The great square of boxes was silent. A woman went 
by in the street, but she did not look at them. Her head was 
sunk and her dirty gingham dress was frayed at the bottom 
in little flags. 

The pall had fallen on Ruthie and Winfield. They did not 
dash away to inspect the place. They stayed close to the 
truck, close to the family. They looked forlornly up and 
down the dusty street. Winfield found a piece of baling wire 
and he bent it back and forth until it broke. He made a little 
crank of the shortest piece and turned it around and around 
in his hands. 

Tom and Pa were carrying the mattresses into the house 
when a clerk appeared. He wore khaki trousers and a blue 
shirt and a black necktie. He wore silver-bound eyeglasses, 
and his eyes, through the thick lenses, were weak and red, 
and the pupils were staring little bull's eyes. He leaned for- 
ward to look at Tom. 

"I want to get you checked down," he said. "How many 
of you going to work?" 

Tom said, "They's four men. Is this here hard work?" 

"Picking peaches," the clerk said. "Piece work. Give five 
cents a box." 

"Ain't no reason why the little fellas can't help?" 

"Sure not, if they're careful." 

Ma stood in the doorway. "Soon's I get settled down I'll 
come out an' help. We got nothin' to eat, mister. Do we get 
paid right off?" 

"Well, no, not money right off. But you can get credit at 
the store for what you got coming." 

"Come on, let's hurry," Tom said. "I want ta get some 
meat an' bread in me tonight. Where de we go, mister?" 



506 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I'm going out there now. Come with me." 

Tom and Pa and Al and Uncle John walked with him 
down the dusty street and into the orchard, in among the 
peach trees. The narrow leaves were beginning to turn a 
pale yellow. The peaches were little globes of gold and red 
on the branches. Among the trees were piles of empty boxes. 
The pickers scurried about, filling their buckets from the 
branches, putting the peaches in the boxes, carrying the boxes 
to the checking station; and at the stations, where the piles of 
filled boxes waited for the trucks, clerks waited to check 
against the names of the pickers. 

"Here's four more," the guide said to a clerk. 

"O.K. Ever picked before?" 

"Never did," said Tom. 

"Well, pick careful. No bruised fruit, no windfalls. 
Bruise your fruit an' we won't check 'em. There's some 
buckets." 

Tom picked up a three-gallon bucket and looked at it. 
"Full a holes on the bottdm." 

"Sure," said the near-sighted clerk. "That keeps people 
from stealing them. All right down in that section. Get 
going." 

The four Joads took their buckets and went into the 
orchard. "They don't waste no time," Tom said. 

"Christ Awmighty," Al said. "I ruther work in a garage." 

Pa had followed docilely into the field. He turned sud- 
denly on Al. "Now you jus' quit it," he said. "You been a- 
hankerin' an' a-complainin' an* a-bullblowin'. You get to 
work. You ain't so big I can't lick you yet." 

Al's face turned red with anger. He started to bluster. 

Tom moved near to him. "Come on, Al," he said quietly. 
"Bread an* meat. We got to get 'em." 



The Grapes of Wrath 507 

Thfcy reached for the fruit and dropped them in the 
buckets. Tom ran at his work. One bucket full, two buckets. 
He dumped them in a box. Three buckets. The box was full. 
"I jus' made a nickel," he called. He picked up the box and 
walked hurriedly to the station. "Here's a nickel's worth," 
he said to the checker. 

The man looked into the box, turned over a peach or two. 
"Put it over there. That's out," he said. "I told you not to 
bruise them. Dumped 'em outa the bucket, didn't you? Well, 
every damn peach is bruised. Can't check that one. Put 'em 
in easy or you're working for nothing." 

"Why goddamn it " 

"Now go easy. I warned you before you started." 

Tom's eyes drooped sullenly. "O.K." he said. "O.K." He 
went quickly back to the others. "Might's well dump what 
you got," he said. "Yours is the same as mine. Won't take 
'em." 

"Now, what the hell!" Al began. ^JBt 

"Got to pick easier. Can't drop 'em in the bucket. Got to 
lay 'em in." 

They started again, and this time they handled the fruit 
gently. The boxes filled more slowly. "We could figger 
somepin out, I bet," Tom said. "If Ruthie an' WinfieP or 
Rosasharn jus' put 'em in the boxes, we could work out a 
system." He carried his newest box to the station. "Is this 
here worth a nickel?" 

The checker looked them over, dug down several layers. 
"That's better," he said. He checked the box in. "Just take 
it easy." 

Tom hurried back. "I got a nickel," he called. "I got a 
nickel. On'y got to do that there twenty times for a dollar." 

They worked on steadily through the afternoon, Ruthie 



508 The Grapes of Wrath 

and Winfield found them after a while. "You got to work," 
Pa told them. "You got to put the peaches careful in the box. 
Here, now, one at a time." 

The children squatted down and picked the peaches out of 
the extra bucket, and a line of buckets stood ready for them. 
Tom carried the full boxes to the station. "That's seven," he 
said. "That's eight. Forty cents we got. Get a nice piece of 
meat for forty cents." 

The afternoon passed. Ruthie tried to go away. "I'm 
tar'd," she whined. "I got to rest." 

"You got to stay right where you're at," said Pa. 

Uncle John picked slowly. He filled one bucket to two of 
Tom's. His pace didn't change. 

In mid-afternoon Ma came trudging out. "I would a come 
before, but Rosasharn fainted," she said. "Jes' fainted away." 

"You been eatin' peaches," she said to the children. "Well, 
they'll blast you out." Ma's stubby body moved quickly. She 
abandoned her bucket quickly and picked into her apron. 
When the sun went down they had picked twenty boxes. 

Tom set the twentieth box down. "A buck," he said. 
"How long do we work?" 

"Work till dark, long as you can see." 

"Well, can we get credit now? Ma oughta go in an' buy 
some stuff to eat." 

"Sure. I'll give you a slip for a dollar now." He wrote on 
a strip of paper and handed it to Tom. 

He took it to Ma. "Here you are. You can get a dollar's 
worth of stuff at the store." 

Ma put down her bucket and straightened her shoulders. 
"Gets you, the first time, don't it?" 

"Sure. We'll all get used to it right off. Roll on in an' get 
some food.'* 



The Grapes of Wrath 509 

Ma said, "What'll you like to eat?" 

"Meat," said Tom. "Meat an' bread an' a big pot a coffee 
with sugar in. Great big piece a meat." 

Ruthie wailed, "Ma, we're tar'd." 

"Better come along in, then." 

"They was tar'd when they started," Pa said. "Wild as 
rabbits they're a-gettin'. Ain't gonna be no good at all 'less 
we can pin 'em down." 

"Soon's we get set down, they'll go to school," said Ma. 
She trudged away, and Ruthie and Winfield timidly fol- 
lowed her. 

"We got to work ever' day?" Winfield asked. 

Ma stopped and waited. She took his hand and walked 
along holding it. "It ain't hard work," she said. "Be good for 
you. An' you're helpin' us. If we all work, purty soon we'll 
live in a nice house. We all got to help." 

"But I got so tar'd." 

"I know. I got tar'd too. Ever'body gets wore out. Got to 
think about other stuff. Think about when you'll go to 
school." 

"I don't wanta go to no school. Ruthie don't, neither. 
Them kids that goes to school, we seen 'em, Ma. Snots! Calls 
us Okies. We seen 'em. I ain't a-goin'." 

Ma looked pityingly down on his straw hair. "Don' give 
us no trouble right now," she begged. "Soon's we get on our 
feet, you Can be bad. But not now. We got too much, now." 

"I et six of them peaches," Ruthie said. 

"Well, you'll have the skitters. An' it ain't close to no 
toilet where we are." 

The company's store was a large shed of corrugated iron. 
It had no display window. Ma opened the screen door and 
went in. A tiny man stood behind the counter. He was com- 



510 The Grapes of Wrath 

pletely bald, and his head was blue-white. Large, brown eye- 
brows covered his eyes in such a high arch that his face 
seemed surprised and a little frightened. His nose was long 
and thin, and curved like a bird's beak, and his nostrils were 
blocked with light brown hair. Over the sleeves of his blue 
shirt he wore black sateen sleeve protectors. He was leaning 
on his elbows on the counter when Ma entered. 

"Afternoon," she said. 

He inspected her with interest. The arch over his eyes be- 
came higher. "Howdy." 

"I got a slip here for a dollar." 

"You can get a dollar's worth," he said, and he giggled 
shrilly. "Yes, sir. A dollar's worth. One dollar's worth." He 
moved his hand at the stock. "Any of it." He pulled his sleeve 
protectors up neatly. 

"Thought I'd get a piece of meat." 

"Got all kinds," he said. "Hamburg, like to have some 
hamburg? Twenty cents a pound, hamburg." 

"Ain't that awful high? Seems to me hamburg was fifteen 
las' time I got some." 

"Well," he giggled softly, "yes, it's high, an' same time it 
ain't high. Time you go on in town for a couple poun's of 
hamburg, it'll cos' you 'bout a gallon gas. So you see it ain't 
really high here, 'cause you got no gallon a gas." 

Ma said sternly, "It didn' cos' you no gallon a gas to get it 
out here." 

He laughed delightedly. "You're lookin' at it bass-ack- 
wards," he said. "We ain't a-buyin' it, we're a-sellin' it. If we 
was buyin' it, why, that'd be different." 

Ma put two fingers to her mouth and frowned with 
thought. "It looks all full a fat an' gristle." 

"I ain't guaranteein' she won't cook down," the store- 



The Grapes of Wrath 5 1 1 

keeper said. "I ain't guaranteein' I'd eat her myself; but they's 
lots of stuff I wouldn' do." 

Ma looked up at him fiercely for a moment. She controlled 
her voice. " Ain't you got some cheaper kind a meat?" 

"Soup bones," he said. "Ten cents a pound." 

"But them's jus' bones." 

"Them's jes' bones," he said. "Make nice soup. Jes' bones." 

"Got any boilin' beef?" 

"Oh, yeah! Sure. That's two bits a poun'." 

"Maybe I can't get no meat," Ma said. "But they want 
meat. They said they wanted meat." 

"Ever'body wants meatneeds meat. That hamburg is 
purty nice stuff. Use the grease that comes out a her for 
gravy. Purty nice. No waste. Don't throw no bone away." 

"How how much is side-meat?" 

"Well, now you're gettin' into fancy stuff. Christmas stuff. 
Thanksgivin' stuff. Thirty-five cents a poun'. I could sell 
you turkey cheaper, if I had some turkey." 

Ma sighed. "Give me two pounds hamburg." 

"Yes, ma'am." He scooped the pale meat on a piece of 
waxed paper. "An' what else?" 

"Well, some bread." 

"Right here. Fine big loaf, fifteen cents." 

"That there's a twelve-cent loaf." 

"Sure, it is. Go right in town an' get her for twelve cents. 
Gallon a gas. What else can I sell you, potatoes?" 

"Yes, potatoes." 

"Five pounds for a quarter." 

Ma moved menacingly toward him. "I heard enough from 
you. I know what they cost in town." 

The little man clamped his mouth tight. "Then go git 'em 
in town." 



5 1 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma looked at her knuckles. "What is this?" she asked 
softly. "You own this here store?" 

"No. I jus' work here." 

"Any reason you got to make fun? That help you any?" 
She regarded her shiny wrinkled hands. The little man was 
silent. "Who owns this here store?" 

"Hooper Ranches, Incorporated, ma'am." 

"An' they set the prices?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

She looked up, smiling a little. "Ever'body comes in talks 
like me, is mad?" 

He hesitated for a moment. "Yes, ma'am." 

"An' that's why you make fun?" 

"What cha mean?" 

"Doin' a dirty thing like this. Shames ya, don't it? Got to 
act flip, huh?" Her voice was gentle. The clerk watched her, 
fascinated. He didn't answer. "That's how it is," Ma said 
finally. "Forty cents for meat, fifteen for bread, quarter for 
potatoes. That's eighty cents. Coffee?" 

"Twenty cents the cheapest, ma'am." 

"An' that's the dollar. Seven of us workin, an' that's sup- 
per." She studied her hand. "Wrap 'em up," she said quickly. 

"Yes, ma'am," he said. "Thanks." He put the potatoes in 
a bag and folded the top carefully down. His eyes slipped 
to Ma, and then hid in his work again. She watched him, and 
she smiled a little. 

"How'd you get a job like this?" she asked. 

"A fella got to eat," he began; and then, belligerently, "A 
fella got a right to eat." 

"What fella?" Ma asked. 

He placed the four packages on the counter. "Meat," he 



The Grapes of Wrath 513 

said. "Potatoes, bread, coffee. One dollar, even." She handed 
him her slip of paper and watched while he entered the name 
and the amount in a ledger. "There," he said. "Now we're 
all even." 

Ma picked up her bags. "Say," she said. "We got no sugar 
for the coffee. My boy Tom, he wants sugar. Look!" she 
said. "They're a-workin' out there. You let me have some 
sugar an' I'll bring the slip in later." 

The little man looked awaytook his eyes as far from Ma 
as he could. "I can't do it," he said softly. "That's the rule. 
I can't. I'd get in trouble. I'd get canned." 

"But they're a-workin' out in the field now. They got 
more'n a dime comin'. Gimme ten cents' of sugar. Tom, he 
wanted sugar in his coffee. Spoke about it." 

"I can't do it, ma'am. That's the rule. No slip, no groceries. 
The manager, he talks about that all the time. No, I can't do 
it. No, I can't. They'd catch me. They always catch fellas. 
Always. I can't." 

"For a dime?" 

"For anything, ma'am." He looked pleadingly at her. And 
then his face lost its fear. He took ten cents from his pocket 
and rang it up in the cash register. "There," he said with re- 
lief. He pulled a little bag from under the counter, whipped 
it open and scooped some sugar into it, weighed the bag, and 
added a little more sugar. "There you are," he said. "Now it's 
all right. You bring in your slip an' I'll get my dime back." 

Ma studied him. Her hand went blindly out and put the 
little bag of sugar on the pile in her arm. "Thanks to you," 
she said quietly. She started for the door, and when she 
reached it, she turned about. "I'm learnin' one thing good," 
she said. "Learnin' it all a time, ever' day. If you're in trouble 



514 The Grapes of Wrath 

or hurt or need go to poor people. They're the only ones 
that'll help the only ones." The screen door slammed be- 
hind her. 

The little man leaned his elbows on the counter and looked 
after her with his surprised eyes. A plump tortoise-shell cat 
leaped up on the counter and stalked lazily near to him. It 
rubbed sideways against his arms, and he reached out with 
his hand and pulled it against his cheek. The cat purred 
loudly, and the tip of its tail jerked back and forth. 

Tom and Al and Pa and Uncle John walked in from the 
orchard when the dusk was deep. Their feet were a little 
heavy against the road. 

"You wouldn' think jus' reachin' up an' pickin'd get you in 
the back," Pa said. 

"Be awright in a couple days," said Tom. "Say, Pa, after 
we eat Fin a-gonna walk out an' see what all that fuss is out- 
side the gate. It's been a-workin' on me. Wanta come?" 

"No," said Pa. "I like to have a little while to jus' work an' 
not think about nothin'. Seems like I jus' been beatin' my 
brains to death for a hell of a long time. No, I'm gonna set 
awhile, an' then go to bed." 

"How 'bout you, Al?" 

Al looked away. "Guess I'll look aroun' in here, first," he 
said. 

"Well, I know Uncle John won't come. Guess I'll go her 
alone. Got me all curious." 

Pa said, "I'll get a hell of a lot curiouser 'fore Til do any- 
thing about it with all them cops out there." 

"Maybe they ain't there at night," Tom suggested. 

"Wfell, I ain't gonna find out. An* you better not tell 



The Grapes of Wrath 515 

Ma where you're a-goin'. She'll jus* squirt her head off 
worryin'." 

Tom turned to Al. "Ain't you curious?" 

"Guess Fll jes' look aroun' this here camp," Al said. 

"Lookin' for girls, huh?" 

"Mindin' my own business," Al said acidly. 

"I'm still a-goin'," said Tom. 

They emerged from the orchard into the dusty street be- 
tween the red shacks. The low yellow light of kerosene lan- 
terns shone from some of the doorways, and inside, in the 
half -gloom, the black shapes of people moved about. At the 
end of the street a guard still sat, his shotgun resting against 
his knee. 

Tom paused as he passed the guard. "Got a place where a 
fella can get a bafti, mister?" 

The guard studied him in the half-light. At last he said, 
"See that water tank?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, there's a hose over there." 

"Any warm water?" 

"Say, who in hell you think you are, J. P. Morgan?" 

"No," said Tom. "No, I sure don't. Good night, mister." 

The guard grunted contemptuously. "Hot water, for 
Christ's sake. Be wantin' tubs next." He stared glumly after 
the four Joads. 

A second guard came around the end house. "'S'matter, 
Mack?" 

"Why, them goddamn Okies. 'Is they warm water?' he 
says." 

The second guard rested his gun butt on the ground. "It's 
them gov'ment camps," he said. "I bet that fella been in a 



516 The Grapes of Wrath 

gov'ment camp. We ain't gonna have no peace till we wipe 
them camps out. They'll be wantin' clean sheets, first thing 
we know." 

Mack asked, "How is it out at the main gate hear any- 
thing?" 

"Well, they was out there yellin' all day. State police got 
it in hand. They're runnin' the hell outa them smart guys. I 
heard they's a long lean son-of-a-bitch spark-pluggin' the 
thing. Fella says they'll get him tonight, an' then she'll go 
to pieces." 

"We won't have no job if it comes too easy," Mack said. 

"We'll have a job, all right. These goddamn Okies! You 
got to watch 'em all the time. Things get a little quiet, we 
can always stir 'em up a little." 

"Have trouble when they cut the rate here, I guess." 

"We sure will. No, you needn' worry about us havin' work 
not while Hooper's snubbin' close." 

The fire roared in the Joad house. Hamburger patties 
splashed and hissed in the grease, and the potatoes bubbled. 
The house was full of smoke, and the yellow lantern light 
threw heavy black shadows on the walls. Ma worked quickly 
about the fire while Rose of Sharon sat on a box resting her 
heavy abdomen on her knees. 

"Feelin' better now?" Ma asked. 

"Smell a cookin' gets me. I'm hungry, too." 

"Go set in the door," Ma said. "I got to have that box to 
break up anyways." 

The men trooped in. "Meat, by God!" said Tom. "And 
coffee. I smell her. Jesus, I'm hungry! I et a lot of peaches, 
but they didn' do no good. Where can we wash, Ma?" 

"Go down to the water tank. Wash down there. I jus* sent 
Ruthie an' WinfieP to wash." The men went out again. 



The Grapes of Wrath 517 

"Go on now, Rosasharn," Ma ordered. "Either you set in 
the door or else on the bed. I got to break that box up." 

The girl helped herself up with her hands. She moved 
heavily to one of the mattresses and sat down on it. Ruthie 
and Winfield came in quietly, trying by silence and by keep- 
ing close to the wall to remain obscure. 

Ma looked over at them. "I got a feelin' you little fellas is 
lucky they ain't much light," she said. She pounced at Win- 
field and felt his hair. "Well, you got wet, anyway, but I bet 
you ain't clean." 

"They wasn't no soap," Winfield complained. 

"No, that's right. I couldn' buy no soap. Not today. Maybe 
we can get soap tomorra." She went back to the stove, laid 
out the plates, and began to serve the supper. Two patties 
apiece and a big potato. She placed three slices of bread on 
each plate. When the meat was all out of the frying pan she 
poured a little of the grease on each plate. The men came in 
again, their faces dripping and their hair shining with water. 

"Leave me at her," Tom cried. 

They took the plates. They ate silently, wolfishly, and 
wiped up the grease with the bread. The children retired into 
the corner of the room, put their plates on the floor, and knelt 
in front of the food like little animals. 

Tom swallowed the last of his bread. "Got any more, Ma?" 

"No," she said. "That's all. You made a dollar, an' that's a 
dollar's worth." 

"That?" 

"They charge extry out here. We got to go in town when 



we can." 



"I ain't full," said Tom. 

"Well, tomorra you'll get in a full day. Tomorra night 
we'll have plenty." 



518 The Grapes of Wrath 

Al wiped his mouth on his sleeve. "Guess I'll take a look 
around/' he said. 

"Wait, I'll go with you." Tom followed him outside. In 
the darkness Tom went close to his brother. "Sure you don' 
wanta come with me?" 

"No. I'm gonna look aroun' like I said." 

"O.K.," said Tom. He turned away and strolled down the 
street. The smoke from the houses hung low to the ground, 
and the lanterns threw their pictures of doorways and win- 
dows into the street. On the doorsteps people sat and looked 
out into the darkness. Tom could see their heads turn as their 
eyes followed him down the street. At the street end the dirt 
road continued across a stubble field, and the black lumps of 
haycocks were visible in the starlight. A thin blade of moon 
was low in the sky toward the west, and the long cloud of 
the milky way trailed clearly overhead. Tom's feet sounded 
softly on the dusty road, a dark patch against the yellow 
stubbly He put his hands in his pockets and trudged along 
toward the main gate. An embankment came close to the 
road. Tom could hear the whisper of water against the 
grasses in the irrigation ditch. He climbed up the bank and 
looked down on the dark water, and saw the stretched re- 
flections of the stars. The State road was ahead. Car lights 
swooping past showed where it was. Tom set out again to- 
ward it. He could see the high wire gate in the starlight. 

A figure stirred beside the road. A voice said, "Hello who 
is it?" 

Tom stopped and stood still. "Who are you?" 

A man stood up and walked near. Tom could see the gun 
in his hand. Then a flashlight played on his face. "Where you 
think you're going?" 

"Well, I thought Fd take a walk. Any law against it?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 519 

"You better walk some other way." 
Tom asked, "Can't I even get out of here?" 
"Not tonight you can't. Want to walk back, or shall I 
whistle some help an' take you?" 

"Hell," said Tom, "it ain't nothin' to me. If it's gonna cause 
a mess, I don't give a darn. Sure, I'll go back." 

The dark figure relaxed. The flash went off. "Ya see, it's 
for your own good. Them crazy pickets might get you." 
"What pickets?" 
"Them goddamn reds." 
"Oh," said Tom. "I didn' know 'bout them." 
"You seen 'em when you come, didn' you?" 
"Well, I seen a bunch a guys, but they was so many cops I 
didn' know. Thought it was a accident." 
"Well, you better git along back." 

"That's O.K. with me, mister." He swung about and 
started back. He walked quietly along the road a hundred 
yards, and then he stopped and listened. The twittering call 
of a raccoon sounded near the irrigation ditch and, very far 
away, the angry howl of a tied dog. Tom sat down beside 
the road and listened. He heard the high soft laughter of a 
night hawk and the stealthy movement of a creeping animal 
in the stubble. He inspected the skyline in both directions, 
dark frames both ways, nothing to show against. Now he 
stood up and walked slowly to the right of the road, off into 
the stubble field, and he walked bent down, nearly as low as 
the haycocks. He moved slowly and stopped occasionally to 
listen. At last he came to the wire fence, five strands of taut 
barbed wire. Beside the fence he lay on his back, moved his 
head under the lowest strand, held the wire up with his hands 
and slid himself under, pushing against the ground with his 
feet. 



520 The Grapes of Wrath 

He was about to get up when a group of men walked by 
on the edge of the highway. Tom waited until they were far 
ahead before he stood up and followed them. He watched 
the side of the road for tents. A few automobiles went by. A 
stream cut across the fields, and the highway crossed it on a 
small concrete bridge. Tom looked over the side of the 
bridge. In the bottom of the deep ravine he saw a tent and a 
lantern was burning inside. He watched it for a moment, saw 
the shadows of people against the canvas walls. Tom climbed 
a fence and moved down into the ravine through brush and 
dwarf willows; and in the bottom, beside a tiny stream, he 
found a trail. A man sat on a box in front of the tent. 

"Evenin'," Tom said. 

"Who are you?" 

"WellI guess, well I'm jus' goin' past." 

"Know anybody here?" 

"No. I tell you I was jus' goin' past." 

A head stuck out of the tent. A voice said, "What's the 
matter?" 

"Casy!" Tom cried. "Casy! For Chris' sake, what you 
doin'here?" 

"Why, my God, it's Tom Joad! Come on in, Tommy. 
Come on in." 

"Know him, do ya?" the man in front asked. 

"Know him? Christ, yes. Knowed him for years. I come 
west with him. Come on in, Tom." He clutched Tom's 
elbow and pulled him into the tent. 

Three other men sat on the ground, and in the center of 
the tent a lantern burned. The men looked up suspiciously. 
A dark-faced, scowling man held out his hand. "Glad to 
meet ya," he said. "I heard what Casy said. This the fella you 
was tellin' about?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 521 

"Sure. This is him. Well, for God's sake! Where's your 
folks? What you doinTiere?" 

"Well," said Tom, "we heard they was work this-a-way. 
An' we come, an* a bunch a State cops run us into this here 
ranch an' we been a-pickin' peaches all afternoon. I seen a 
bunch a fellas yellin'. They wouldn' tell me nothin', so I 
come out here to see what's goin' on. How'n hell'd you get 
here, Casy?" 

The preacher leaned forward and the yellow lantern light 
fell on his high pale forehead. "Jail house is a kinda funny 
place," he said. "Here's me, been a-goin' into the wilderness 
like Jesus to try find out somepin. Almost got her some- 
times, too. But it's in the jail house I really got her." His eyes 
were sharp and merry. "Great big ol' cell, an' she's full all a 
time. New guys come in, and guys go out. An' 'course I 
talked to all of 'em." 

" 'Course you did," said Tom. "Always talk. If you was up 
on the gallows you'd be passin* the time a day with the hang- 
man. Never seen sech a talker." 

The men in the tent chuckled. A wizened little man with 
a wrinkled face slapped his knee. "Talks all the time," he said. 
"Folks kinda likes to hear 'im, though." 

"Use' ta be a preacher," said Tom. "Did he tell that?" 

"Sure, he told." 

Casy grinned. "Well, sir," he went on, "I begin gettin' at 
things. Some a them fellas in the tank was drunks, but mostly 
they was there 'cause they stole stuff; an' mostly it was stuff 
they needed an' couldn' get no other way. Ya see?" he asked. 

"No," said Tom. 

"Well, they was nice fellas, ya see. What made 'em bad 
was they needed stuff. An' I begin to see, then. It's need that 
makes all the trouble. I ain't got it worked out. Well, one day 



522 The Grapes of Wrath 

they give us some beans that was sour. One fella started 
yellin', an' nothin' happened. He yelled his head off. Trusty 
come along an' looked in an' went on. Then another fella 
yelled. Well, sir, then we all got yellin'. And we all got on 
the same tone, an' I tell ya, it jus' seemed like that tank bulged 
ari' give and swelled up. By God! Then somepin happened! 
They come a-runnin', and they give us some other stuff to 
eat give it to us. Ya see?" 

"No," said Tom. 

Casy put his chin down on his hands. "Maybe I can't tell 
you," he said. "Maybe you got to find out. Where's your 
cap?" 

"I come out without it." 

"How's your sister?" 

"Hell, she's big as a cow. I bet she got twins. Gonna need 
wheels under her stomach. Got to holdin' it with her han's, 
now. You ain' toP me what's goin' on." 

The wizened man said, "We struck. This here's a strike." 

"Well, fi' cents a box ain't much, but a fella can eat." 

"Fi' cents?" the wizened man cried. "Fi' cents! They 
payin' you fi' cents?" 

"Sure. We made a buck an' a half." 

A heavy silence fell in the tent. Casy stared out the en- 
trance, into the dark night. "Lookie, Tom," he said at last. 
"We come to work there. They says it's gonna be fi' cents. 
They was a hell of a lot of us. We got there an' they says 
they're payin' two an' a half cents. A fella can't even eat on 
that, an' if he got kids So we says we won't take it. So they 
druv us off. An' all the cops in the worl' come down on us. 
Now they're payin' you five. When they bust this here 
strike ya think they'll pay five?" 

"I dunno," Tom said. "Payin' five now." 



The Grapes of Wrath 523 

"Lookie," said Casy. "We tried to camp together, an* they 
druv us like pigs. Scattered us. Beat the hell outa fellas. Druv 
us like pigs. They run you in like pigs, too. We can't las' 
much longer. Some people ain't et for two days. You goin' 
back tonight?" 

"Aim to," said Tom. 

"Well tell the folks in there how it is, Tom. Tell 'em 
they're starvin' us an' stabbin' theirself in the back. 'Cause 
sure as cowflops she'll drop to two an' a half jus' as soon as 
they clear us out." 

"I'll tell 'em," said Tom. "I don' know how. Never seen so 
many guys with guns. Don' know if they'll even let a fella 
talk. An' folks don' pass no time of day. They jus' hang 
down their heads an' won't even give a fella a howdy." 

"Try an' tell 'em, Tom. They'll get two an' a half, jus' the 
minute we're gone. You know what two an' a half isthat's 
one ton of peaches picked an' carried for a dollar." He 
dropped his head. "No you can't do it. You can't get your 
food for that. Can't eat for that." 

"I'll try to get to tell the folks." 

"How's your ma?" 

"Purty good. She liked that gov'ment camp. Baths an' hot 
water." 

"Yeah-I heard." 

"It was pretty nice there. Couldn' find no work, though. 
Had a leave." 

"I'd like to go to one," said Casy. "Like to see it. Fella says 
they ain't no cops." 

"Folks is their own cops." 

Casy looked up excitedly. "An' was they any trouble? 
Fightin', stealin', drinkin'?" 

"No," said Tom. 



524 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well, if a fella went bad-what then? What'd they do?'' 
"Put 'im outa the camp." 
"But they wasn' many?" 
"Hell, no," said Tom. "We was there a month, an' on'y 



one." 



Casy's eyes shone with excitement. He turned to the other 
men. "Ya see?" he cried. "I toP you. Cops cause more trouble 
than they stop. Look, Tom. Try an' get the folks in there to 
come on out. They can do it in a couple days. Them peaches 
is ripe. Tell 'em." 

"They won't," said Tom. "They're a-gettin' five, an' they 
don' give a damn about nothin' else." 

"But jus' the minute they ain't strikebreakin' they won't 
get no five." 

"I don' think they'll swalla that. Five they're a-gettin'. 
Tha's all they care about." 

"Well, tell 'em anyways." 

"Pa wouldn' do it," Tom said. "I know 'im. He'd say it 
wasn't none of his business." 

"Yes," Casy said disconsolately. "I guess that's right. Have 
to take a beatin' 'fore he'll know." 

"We was outa food," Tom said. "Tonight we had meat. 
Not much, but we had it. Think Pa's gonna give up his meat 
on account a other fellas? An' Rosasharn oughta get milk. 
Think Ma's gonna wanta starve that baby jus' 'cause a bunch 
a fellas is yellin' outside a gate?" 

Casy said sadly, "I wisht they could see it. I wisht they 
could see the on'y way they can depen' on their meat Oh, 
the hell! Get tar'd sometimes. God-awful tar'd. I knowed a 
fella. Brang 'im in while I was in the jail house. Been tryin' to 
start a union. Got one started. An' then them vigilantes bust 
it up. An' know what? Them very folks he been tryin* to 



The Grapes of Wrath 525 

help tossed him out. Wouldn' have nothin' to do with 'im. 
Scared they'd get saw in his comp'ny. Says, 'Git out. You're 
a danger on us.' Well, sir, it hurt his feelin's purty bad. But 
then he says, 'It ain't so bad if you know.' He says, Trench 
Revolution all them fellas that figgered her out got their 
heads chopped off. Always that way,' he says. 'Jus' as natural 
as rain. You didn' do it for fun no way. Doin' it 'cause you 
have to. 'Cause it's you. Look a Washington,' he says. 'Fit the 
Revolution, an' after, them sons-a-bitches turned on him. An' 
Lincoln the same. Same folks yellin' to kill 'em. Natural as 
rain.' " 

"Don't soun' like no fun," said Tom. 

"No, it don't. This fella in jail, he says, 'Anyways, you do 
what you can. An',' he says, 'the on'y thing you got to look 
at is that ever' time they's a little step fo'ward, she may slip 
back a little, but she never slips clear back. You can prove 
that,' he says, 'an' that makes the whole thing right. An' that 
means they wasn't no waste even if it seemed like they was.' " 

"Talkin'," said Tom. "Always talkin'. Take my brother 
Al. He's out lookin' for a girl. He don't care 'bout nothin' 
else. Couple days he'll get him a girl. Think about it all day 
an' do it all night. He don't give a damn 'bout steps up or 
down or sideways." 

"Sure," said Casy. "Sure. He's jus' doin' what he's got to 
do. All of us like that." 

The man seated outside pulled the tent flap wide. "God- 
damn it, I don' like it," he said. 

Casy looked out at him. "What's the matter?" 

"I don' know. I jus' itch all over. Nervous as a cat." 

"Well, what's the matter?" 

"I don' know. Seems like I hear somepin, an' then I listen 
an' they ain't nothin' to hear." 



526 The Grapes of Wrath 

"You're jus' jumpy," the wizened man said. He got up and 
went outside. And in a second he looked into the tent. 
"They's a great big oP black cloud a-sailin' over. Bet she's got 
thunder. That's what's itchin' him 'lectricity." He ducked 
out again. The other two men stood up from the ground and 
went outside. 

Casy said softly, "All of 'em's itchy. Them cops been 
sayin' how they're gonna beat the hell outa us an' run us outa 
the county. They figger I'm a leader 'cause I talk so much." 

The wizened face looked in again. "Casy, turn out that 
lantern an' come outside. They's somepin." 

Casy turned the screw. The flame drew down into the 
slots and popped and went out. Casy groped outside and 
Tom followed him. "What is it?" Casy asked softly. 

"I dunno. Listen!" 

There was a wall of frog sounds that merged with silence. 
A high, shrill whistle of crickets. But through this back- 
ground came other sounds faint footsteps from the road, a 
crunch of clods up on the bank, a little swish of brush down 
the stream. 

"Can't really tell if you hear it. Fools you. Get nervous," 
Casy reassured them. "We're all nervous. Can't really tell. 
You hear it, Tom?" 

"I hear it," said Tom. "Yeah, I hear it. I think they's guys 
comin' from ever' which way. We better get outa here." 

The wizened man whispered, "Under the bridge span- 
out that way. Hate to leave my tent." 

"Le's go," said Casy. 

They moved quietly along the edge of the stream. The 
black span was a cave before them. Casy bent over and 
moved through. Tom behind. Their feet slipped into the 
water. Thirty feet they moved, and their breathing echoed 



The Grapes of Wrath 527 

from the curved ceiling. Then they came out on the other 
side and straightened up. 

A sharp call, "There they are!" Two flashlight beams fell 
on the men, caught them, blinded them. "Stand where you 
are." The voices came out of the darkness. "That's him. That 
shiny bastard. That's him." 

Casy stared blindly at the light. He breathed heavily. 
"Listen," he said. "You fellas don' know what you're doin'. 
You're helpin' to starve kids." 

"Shut up, you red son-of-a-bitch." 

A short heavy man stepped into the light. He carried a 
new white pick handle. 

Casy went on, "You don' know what you're a-doin'." 

The heavy man swung with the pick handle. Casy dodged 
down into the swing. The heavy club crashed into the side 
of his head with a dull crunch of bone, and Casy fell side- 
ways out of the light. 

"Jesus, George. I think you killed him." 

"Put the light on him," said George. "Serve the son-of-a- 
bitch right." The flashlight beam dropped, searched and 
found Casy's crushed head. 

Tom looked down at the preacher. The light crossed the 
heavy man's legs and the white new pick handle. Tom leaped 
silently. He wrenched the club free. The first time he knew 
he had missed and struck a shoulder, but the second time his 
crushing blow found the head, and as the heavy man sank 
down, three more blows found his head. The lights danced 
about. There were shouts, the sound of running feet, crash- 
ing through brush. Tom stood over the prostrate man. And 
then a club reached his head, a glancing blow. He felt the 
stroke like an electric shock. And then he was running along 
the stream, bending low. He heard the splash of footsteps 



528 The Grapes of Wrath 

following him. Suddenly he turned and squirmed up into the 
brush, deep into a poison-oak thicket. And he lay still. The 
footsteps came near, the light beams glanced along the stream 
bottom. Tom wriggled up through the thicket to the top. He 
emerged in an orchard. And still he could hear the calls, the 
pursuit in the stream bottom. He bent low and ran over the 
cultivated earth; the clods slipped and rolled under his feet. 
Ahead he saw the bushes that bounded the field, bushes along 
the edges of an irrigation ditch. He slipped through the 
fence, edged in among vines and blackberry bushes. And 
then he lay still, panting hoarsely. He felt his numb face and 
nose. The nose was crushed, and a trickle of blood dripped 
from his chin. He lay still on his stomach until his mind came 
back. And then he crawled slowly over the edge of the ditch. 
He bathed his face in the cool water, tore off the tail of his 
blue shirt and dipped it and held it against his torn cheek and 
nose. The water stung and burned. 

The black cloud had crossed the sky, a blob of dark against 
the stars. The night was quiet again. 

Tom stepped into the water and felt the bottom drop from 
under his feet. He threshed the two strokes across the ditch 
and pulled himself heavily up the other bank. His clothes 
clung to him. He moved and made a slopping noise; his shoes 
squished. Then he sat down, took off his shoes and emptied 
them. He wrung the bottoms of his trousers, took off his 
coat and squeezed the water from it. 

Along the highway he saw the dancing beams of the flash- 
lights, searching the ditches. Tom put on his shoes and 
moved cautiously across the stubble field. The squishing 
noise no longer came from his shoes. He went by instinct 
toward the other side of the stubble field, and at last he came 



The Grapes of Wrath 529 

to the road. Very cautiously he approached the square of 
houses. 

Once a guard, thinking he heard a noise, called, "Who's 
there?" 

Tom dropped and froze to the ground, and the flashlight 
beam passed over him. He crept silently to the door of the 
Joad house. The door squalled on its hinges. And Ma's voice, 
calm and steady and wide awake: 

"What's that?" 

"Me. Tom." 

"Well, you better get some sleep. Al ain't in yet." 

"He must a foun' a girl." 

"Go on to sleep," she said softly. "Over under the 
window." 

He found his place and took off his clothes to the skin. He 
lay shivering under his blanket And his torn face awakened 
from its numbness, and his whole head throbbed. 

It was an hour more before Al came in. He moved cau- 
tiously near and stepped on Tom's wet clothes. 

"Sh!" said Tom. 

Al whispered, "You awake? How'd you get wet?" 

"Sh," said Tom. "Tell you in the mornin'." 

Pa turned on his back, and his snoring filled the room with 
gasps and snorts. 

"You're col'," Al said. 

"Sh. Go to sleep." The little square of the window showed 
gray against the black of the room. 

Tom did not sleep. The nerves of his wounded face came 
back to life and throbbed, and his cheek bone ached, and his 
broken nose bulged and pulsed with pain that seemed to toss 
him about, to shake him. He watched the little square win- 



530 The Grapes of Wrath 

dow, saw the stars slide down over it and drop from sight. 

At intervals he heard the footsteps of the watchmen. 

At last the roosters crowed, far away, and gradually the 
window lightened. Tom touched his swollen face with his 
fingertips, and at his movement Al groaned and murmured in 
his sleep. 

The dawn came finally. In the houses, packed together, 
there was a sound of movement, a crash of breaking sticks, a 
little clatter of pans. In the graying gloom Ma sat up sud- 
denly. Tom could see her face, swollen with sleep. She 
looked at the window, for a long moment. And then she 
threw the blanket off and found her dress. Still sitting down, 
she put it over her head and held her arms up and let the dress 
slide down to her waist. She stood up and pulled the dress 
down around her ankles. Then, in bare feet, she stepped care- 
fully to the window and looked out, and while she stared at 
the growing light, her quick fingers unbraided her hair and 
smoothed the strands and braided them up again. Then she 
clasped her hands in front of her and stood motionless for a 
moment. Her face was lighted sharply by the window. She 
turned, stepped carefully among the mattresses, and found 
the lantern. The shade screeched up, and she lighted the 
wick. 

Pa rolled over and blinked at her. She said, "Pa, you got 
more money?" 

"Huh? Yeah. Paper wrote for sixty cents." 

"Well, git up an' go buy some flour an' lard. Quick, now." 

Pa yawned. "Maybe the store ain't open." 

"Make 'em open it. Got to get somepin in you fellas. You 
got to get out to work." 

Pa struggled into his overalls and put on his rusty coat. He 
went sluggishly out the door, yawning and stretching. 



The Grapes of Wrath 531 

The children awakened and watched from under their 
blanket, like mice. Pale light filled the room now, but color- 
less light, before the sun. Ma glanced at the mattresses. Uncle 
John was awake, Al slept heavily. Her eyes moved to Tom. 
For a moment she peered at him, and then she moved quickly 
to him. His face was puffed and blue, and the blood was 
dried black on his lips and chin. The edges of the torn cheek 
were gathered and tight. 

"Tom," she whispered, "what's the matter?" 

"Sh!" he said. "Don't talk loud. I got in a fight." 

"Tom!" 

"I couldn' help it, Ma." 

She knelt down beside him. "You in trouble?" 

He was a long time answering. "Yeah," he said. "In trou- 
ble. I can't go out to work. I got to hide." 

The children crawled near on their hands and knees, star- 
ing greedily. "What's the matter'th him, Ma?" 

"Hush!" Ma said. "Go wash up." 

"We got no soap." 

"Well, use water." 

"What's the matter'th Tom?" 

"Now you hush. An' don't you tell nobody." 

They backed away and squatted down against the far wall, 
knowing they would not be inspected. 

Ma asked, "Is it bad?" 

"Nose busted." 

"I mean the trouble?" 

"Yeah. Bad!" 

Al opened his eyes and looked at Tom. "Well, for Chris' 
sake! What was you in?" 

"What's a matter?" Uncle John asked. 

Pa clumped in. "They was open all right." He put a tiny 



532 The Grapes of Wrath 

bag of flour and his package of lard on the floor beside the 
stove. "'S'a matter?" he asked. 

Tom braced himself on one elbow for a moment, and then 
he lay back. "Jesus, I'm weak. I'm gonna tell ya once. So I'll 
tell all of ya. How 'bout the kids?" 

Ma looked at them, huddled against the wall. "Go wash ya 
face." 

"No," Tom said. "They got to hear. They got to know. 
They might blab if they don' know." 

"What the hell is this?" Pa demanded. 

"I'm a-gonna tell. Las' night I went out to see what all the 
yellin' was about. An' I come on Casy." 

"The preacher?" 

"Yeah, Pa. The preacher, on'y he was a-leadin' the strike. 
They come for him." 

Pa demanded, "Who come for him?" 

"I dunno. Same kinda guys that turned us back on the road 
that night. Had pick handles." He paused. "They killed 'im. 
Busted his head. I was standin' there. I went nuts. Grabbed 
the pick handle." He looked bleakly back at the night, the 
darkness, the flashlights, as he spoke. "II clubbed a guy." 

Ma's breath caught in her throat. Pa stiffened. "Kill 1m?" 
he asked softly. 

"I don't know. I was nuts. Tried to." 

Ma asked, "Was you saw?" 

"I dunno. I dunno. I guess so. They had the lights on us." 

For a moment Ma stared into his eyes. "Pa," she said, 
"break up some boxes. We got to get breakfas'. You got to 
go to work. Ruthie, Winfiel'. If anybody asts you Tom is 
sick you hear? If you tell he'll get sent to jail. You hear?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 



The Grapes of Wrath 533 

"Keep your eye on 'em, John. Don' let 'em talk to no- 
body." She built the fire as Pa broke the boxes that had held 
the goods. She made her dough, put a pot of coffee to boil. 
The light wood caught and roared its flame in the chimney. 

Pa finished breaking the boxes. He came near to Tom. 
"Casy he was a good man. What'd he wanta mess with that 
stuff for?" 

Tom said dully, "They come to work for fi' cents a box." 

"That's what we're a-gettin'." 

"Yeah. What we was a-doin' was breakin' strike. They 
give them fellas two an' a half cents." 

"You can't eat on that." 

"I know," Tom said wearily. "That's why they struck. 
Well, I think they bust that strike las' night. We'll maybe be 
gettin' two an' a half cents today." 

"Why, the sons-a-bitches " 

"Yeah! Pa. You see? Casy was still agood man. Goddamn 
it, I can't get that pitcher outa my head. Him layin' there- 
head jus' crushed flat an' oozin'. Jesus!" He covered his eyes 
with his hand. 

"Well, what we gonna do?" Uncle John asked. 

Al was standing up now, "Well, by God, I know what I'm 
gonna do. I'm gonna get out of it." 

"No, you ain't, Al," Tom said. "We need you now. I'm 
the one. I'm a danger now. Soon's I get on my feet I got 
to go." 

Ma worked at the stove. Her head was half turned to hear. 
She put grease in the frying pan, and when it whispered with 
heat, she spooned the dough into it. 

Tom went on, "You got to stay, Al. You got to take care 
a the truck." 



534 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well, I don' like it." 

"Can't help it, Al. It's your folks. You can help 'em. I'm a 
danger to 'em." 

Al grumbled angrily. "I don' know why I ain't let to get 
me a job in a garage." 

"Later, maybe." Tom looked past him, and he saw Rose of 
Sharon lying on the mattress. Her eyes were hugeopened 
wide. "Don't worry," he called to her. "Don't you worry. 
Gonna get you some milk today." She blinked slowly, and 
didn't answer him. 

Pa said, "We got to know, Tom. Think ya killed this fella?" 

"I don' know. It was dark. An' somebody smacked me. 
I don' know. I hope so. I hope I killed the bastard." 

"Tom!" Ma called. "Don' talk like that." 

From the street came the sound of many cars moving 
slowly. Pa stepped to the window and looked out. "They's a 
whole slew a new people comin' in," he said. 

"I guess they bust the strike, awright," said Tom. "I guess 
you'll start at two an' a half cents." 

"But a fella could work at a run, an' still he couldn' eat." 

"I know," said Tom. "Eat win'fall peaches. That'll keep 
ya up." 

Ma turned the dough and stirred the coffee. "Listen to 
me," she said. "I'm gettin' cornmeal today. We're a-gonna 
eat cornmeal mush. An' soon's we get enough for gas, we're 
movin' away. This ain't a good place. An' I ain't gonna have 
Tom out alone. No, sir." 

"Ya can't do that, Ma. I tell you I'm jus' a danger to ya." 

Her chin was set. "That's what we'll do. Here, come eat 
this here, an' then get out to work. I'll come out soon's I get 
washed up. We got to make some money." 



The Grapes of Wrath 535 

They ate the fried dough so hot that it sizzled in their 
mouths. And they tossed the coffee down and filled their 
cups and drank more coffee. 

Uncle John shook his head over his plate. "Don't look like 
we're a-gonna get shet of this here. I bet it's my sin." 

"Oh, shut up!" Pa cried. "We ain't got the time for your 
sin now. Come on now. Le's get out to her. Kids, you come 
he'p. Ma's right. We got to go outa here." 

When they were gone, Ma took a plate and a cup to Tom. 
"Better eat a little somepin." 

"I can't, Ma. I'm so darn sore I couldn' chew." 

"You better try." 

"No, I can't, Ma." 

She sat down on the edge of his mattress. "You got to tell 
me," she said. "I got to figger how it was. I got to keep 
straight. What was Casy a-doin'? Why'd they kill 'im?" 

"He was jus' standin' there with the lights on' 'im." 

"What'd he say? Can ya 'member what he says?" 

Tom said, "Sure. Casy said, 'You got no right to starve 
people.' An' then this heavy fella called him a red son-of-a- 
bitch. An' Casy says, 'You don' know what you're a-doin'.' 
An' then this guy smashed 'im." 

Ma looked down. She twisted her hands together. "Tha's 
what he said 'You don' know what you're doin' '?" 

"Yeah!" 

Ma said, "I wisht Granma could a heard." 

"MaI didn' know what I was a-doin', no more'n when 
you take a breath. I didn' even know I was gonna do it." 

"It's awright. I wisht you didn' do it. I wisht you wasn' 
there. But you done what you had to do. I can't read no fault 
on you." She went to the stove and dipped a cloth in the heat- 



536 The Grapes of Wrath 

ing dishwater. "Here," she said. "Put that there on your 

face." 

He laid the warm cloth over his nose and cheek, and 
winced at the heat. "Ma, I'm a-gonna go away tonight. I 
can't go puttin' this on you folks." 

Ma said angrily, "Tom! They's a whole lot I don' un'er- 
stan'. But goin' away ain't gonna ease us. It's gonna bear us 
down." And she went on, "They was the time when we was 
on the Ian'. They was a boundary to us then. OF folks died 
off, an' little fellas come, an' we was always one thing we 
was the fambly kinda whole and clear. An' now we ain't 
clear no more. I can't get straight. They ain't nothin' keeps 
us clear. Al he's a-hankerin' an' a-jibbitin' to go off on his 
own. An' Uncle John is jus' a-draggin' along. Pa's lost his 
place. He ain't the head no more. We're crackin' up, Tom. 
There ain't no fambly now. An' Rosasharn " She looked 
around and found the girl's wide eyes. "She gonna have her 
baby an' they won't be no fambly. I don' know. I been 
a-tryin' to keep her goin'. WinfieP what's he gonna be, 
this-a-way? Gettin' wild, an' Ruthie toolike animals. Got 
nothin' to trus'. Don' go, Tom. Stay an' help." 

"O.K.," he said tiredly. "O.K. I shouldn', though. I 
know it." 

Ma went to her dishpan and washed the tin plates and 
dried them. "You didn' sleep." 

"No." 

"Well, you sleep. I seen your clothes was wet. I'll hang 'em 
by the stove to dry." She finished her work. "I'm goin' now. 
I'll pick. Rosasharn, if anybody comes, Tom's sick, you 
hear? Don' let nobody in. .You hear?" Rose of Sharon nod- 
ded. "We'll come back at noon. Get some sleep, Tom. 



The Grapes of Wrath 537 

Maybe we can get outa here tonight." She moved swiftly to 
him. "Tom, you ain't gonna slip out?" 

"No, Ma." 

"You sure? You won't go?" 

"No, Ma. I'll be here." 

"Awright. 'Member, Rosasharn." She went out and closed 
the door firmly behind her. 

Tom lay stilland then a wave of sleep lifted him to the 
edge of unconsciousness and dropped him slowly back and 
lifted him again. 

"You-Tom!" 

"Huh? Yeah!" He started awake. He looked over at Rose 
of Sharon. Her eyes were blazing with resentment. "What 
you want?" 

"You killed a fella!" 

"Yeah. Not so loud! You wanta rouse somebody?" 

"What da I care?" she cried. "That lady toF me. She says 
what sin's gonna do. She toF me. What chance I got to have 
a nice baby? Connie's gone, an' I ain't gettin' good food. I 
ain't gettin' milk." Her voice rose hysterically. "An' now 
you kill a fella. What chance that baby got to get bore right? 
I knowgonna be a freaka freak! I never done no dancin'." 

Tom got up. "Sh!" he said. "You're gonna get folks in 
here." 

"I don* care. I'll have a freak! I didn' dance no hug-dance." 

He went near to her. "Be quiet." 

"You get away from me. It ain't the first fella you killed, 
neither." Her face was growing red with hysteria. Her 
words blurred. "I don' wanta look at you." She covered her 
head with her blanket. 

Tom heard the choked, smothered cries. He bit his lower 



538 The Grapes of Wrath 

lip and studied the floor. And then he went to Pa's bed. 
Under the edge of the mattress the rifle lay, a lever-action 
Winchester .38, long and heavy. Tom picked it up and 
dropped the lever to see that a cartridge was in the chamber. 
He tested the hammer on half-cock. And then he went back 
to his mattress. He laid the rifle on the floor beside him, stock 
up and barrel pointing down. Rose of Sharon's voice thinned 
to a whimper. Tom lay down again and covered himself, 
covered his bruised cheek with the blanket and made a little 
tunnel to breathe through. He sighed, "Jesus, oh, Jesus!" 

Outside, a group of cars went by, and voices sounded. 

"How many men?" 

"Jes' usthree. Whatcha payin'?" 

"You go to house twenty-five. Number's right on the 
door." 

"O.K., mister. Whatcha payin'?" 

"Two and a half cents." 

"Why, goddamn it, a man can't make his dinner!" 

"That's what we're payin'. There's two hundred men 
coming from the South that'll be glad to get it." 

"But, Jesus, mister!" 

"Go on now. Either take it or go on along. I got no time 
to argue." 

"But " 

"Look. I didn' set the price. I'm just checking you in. If 
you want it, take it. If you don't, turn right around and go 
along." 

"Twenty-five, you say?" 

"Yes, twenty-five." 

Tom dozed on his mattress. A stealthy sound in the room 
awakened him. His hand crept to the rifle and tightened on 



The Grapes of Wrath 539 

the grip. He drew back the covers from his face. Rose of 
Sharon was standing beside his mattress. 

"What you want?" Tom demanded. 

"You sleep," she said. "You jus' sleep off. I'll watch the 
door. They won't nobody get in." 

He studied her face for a moment. "O.K.," he said, and he 
covered his face with the blanket again. 

In the beginning dusk Ma came back to the house. She 
paused on the doorstep and knocked and said, "It's me," so 
that Tom would not be worried. She opened the door and 
entered, carrying a bag. Tom awakened and sat up on his 
mattress. His wound had dried and tightened so that the 
unbroken skin was shiny. His left eye was drawn nearly shut. 
"Anybody come while we was gone?" Ma asked. 

"No," he said. "Nobody. I see they dropped the price." 

"How'd you know?" 

"I heard folks talkin' outside." 

Rose of Sharon looked dully up at Ma. 

Tom pointed at her with his thumb. "She raised hell, Ma. 
Thinks all the trouble is aimed right smack at her. If I'm 
gonna get her upset like that I oughta go 'long." 

Ma turned on Rose of Sharon. "What you doin'?" 

The girl said resentfully, "How'm I gonna have a nice 
baby with stuff like this?" 

Ma said, "Hush! You hush now. I know how you're 
a-feelin', an' I know you can't he'p it, but you jus' keep your 
mouth shut." 

She turned back to Tom. "Don't pay her no mind, Tom. 
It's awful hard, an' I 'member how it is. Ever'thing is a- 
shootin' right at you when you're gonna have a baby, an' 
ever'thing anybody says is a insult, an' ever'thing's against 



540 The Grapes of Wrath 

you. Don't pay no mind. She can't he'p it. It's jus' the way 

she feels." 

"I don' wanta hurt her." 

"Hush! Jus' don' talk." She set her bag down on the cold 
stove. u Didn' hardly make nothing" she said. "I tol' you, 
we're gonna get outa here. Tom, try an' wrassle me some 
wood. No you can't. Here, we got on'y this one box lef '. 
Break it up. I tol' the other fellas to pick up some sticks on 
the way back. Gonna have mush an' a little sugar on." 

Tom got up and stamped the last box to small pieces. Ma 
carefully built her fire in one end of the stove, conserving the 
flame under one stove hole. She filled a kettle with water and 
put it over the flame. The kettle rattled over the direct fire, 
rattled and wheezed. 

"How was it pickin' today?" Tom asked. 

Ma dipped a cup into her bag of cornmeal. "I don' wanta 
talk about it. I was thinkin' today how they use' to be jokes. 
I don' like it, Tom. We don't joke no more. When they's a 
joke, it's a mean bitter joke, an' they ain't no fun in it. Fella 
says today, 'Depression is over. I seen a jackrabbit, an' they 
wasn't nobody after him.' An' another fella says, That ain't 
the reason. Can't afford to kill jackmbbits no more. Catch 
'em and milk 'em an' turn 'em loose. One you seen prob'ly 
gone dry.' That's how I mean. Ain't really funny, not funny 
like that time Uncle John converted an Injun an' brang him 
home, an* that Injun et his way clean to the bottom of the 
bean bin, an' then backslid with Uncle John's whisky. Tom, 
put a rag with col' water on your face." 

The dusk deepened. Ma lighted the lantern and hung it on 
a nail. She fed the fire and poured cornmeal gradually into 
the hot water. "Rosasharn." she said, "can you stir the 
mush?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 541 

Outside there was a patter of running feet. The door burst 
open and banged against the wall. Ruthie rushed in. "Ma!" 
she cried. "Ma. Winfiel' got a fit!" 

"Where? Tell me!" 

Ruthie panted, "Got white an* fell down. Et so many 
peaches he skittered hisself all day. Jus' fell down. White!" 

"Take me!" Ma demanded. "Rosasharn, you watch that 
mush." 

She went out with Ruthie. She ran heavily up the street 
behind the little girl. Three men walked toward her in the 
dusk, and the center man carried Winfield in his arms. Ma 
ran up to them. "He's mine," she cried. "Give 'im to me." 

"Fll carry 'im for you, ma'am." 

"No, here, give 'im to me." She hoisted the little boy and 
turned back; and then she remembered herself. "I sure thank 
ya," she said to the men. 

"Welcome, ma'am. The little fella's purty weak. Looks 
like he got worms." 

Ma hurried back, and Winfield was limp and relaxed in 
her arms. Ma carried him into the house and knelt down and 
laid him on a mattress. "Tell me. What's the matter?" she 
demanded. He opened his eyes dizzily and shook his head 
and closed his eyes again. 

Ruthie said, "I toP ya, Ma. He skittered all day. Ever' little 
while. Et too many peaches." 

Ma felt his head. "He ain't fevered. But he's white and 
drawed out." 

Tom came near and held the lantern down. "I know," he 
said. "He's hungered. Got no strength. Get him a can a milk 
an' make him drink it. Make 'im take milk on his mush." 

"WinfieP," Ma said. "Tell how ya feel." 

"Dizzy," said Winfield, "jus' a-whirlin' dizzy." 



54 2 The Grapes of Wrath 

"You never seen sech skitters," Ruthie said importantly. 

Pa and Uncle John and Al came into the house. Their arms 
were full of sticks and bits of brush. They dropped their 
loads by the stove. "Now what?" Pa demanded. 

"It's Winfier. He needs some milk." 

"Christ Awmighty! We all need stuff!" 

Ma said, "How much'd we make today?" 

"Dollar forty-two." 

"Well, you go right over'n get a can a milk for WinfieP." 

"Now why'd he have to get sick?" 

"I don't know why, but he is. Now you git!" Pa went 
grumbling out the door. "You stirrin' that mush?" 

"Yeah." Rose of Sharon speeded up the stirring to prove it. 

Al complained, "God Awmighty, Ma! Is mush all we get 
after workin' till dark?" 

"Al, you know we got to git. Take all we got for gas. You 
know." 

"But, God Awmighty, Ma! A fella needs meat if he's 
gonna work." 

"Jus' you sit quiet," she said. "We got to take the bigges' 
thing an' whup it fust. An' you know what that thing is." 

Tom asked, "Is it about me?" 

"We'll talk when we've et," said Ma. "Al, we got enough 
gas to go a ways, ain't we?" 

" 'Bout a quarter tank," said Al. 

"I wisht you'd tell me," Tom said. 

"After. Jus' wait." 

"Keep a-stirrin' that mush, you. Here, lemme put on some 
coffee. You can have sugar on your mush or in your coffee. 
They ain't enough for both." 

Pa came back with one tall can of milk. " 'Leven cents," 
he said disgustedly. 



The Grapes of Wrath 543 

"Here!" Ma took the can and stabbed it open. She let the 
thick stream out into a cup, and handed it to Tom. "Give 
that to WinfieT." 

Tom knelt beside the mattress. "Here, drink this." 

"I can't. I'd sick it all up. Leave me be." 

Tom stood up. "He can't take it now, Ma. Wait a little." 

Ma took the cup and set it on the window ledge. "Don't 
none of you touch that," she warned. "That's for WinfieP." 

"I ain't had no milk," Rose of Sharon said sullenly. "I 
oughta have some." 

"I know", but you're still on your feet. This here little 
fella's down. Is that mush good an' thick?" 

"Yeah. Can't hardly stir it no more." 

"Awright, le's eat. Now here's the sugar. They's about one 
spoon each. Have it on ya mush or in ya coffee." 

Tom said, "I kinda like salt an' pepper on mush." 

"Salt her if you like," Ma said. "The pepper's out." 

The boxes were all gone. The family sat on the mattresses 
to eat their mush. They served themselves again and again, 
until the pot was nearly empty. "Save some for Winfiel'," 
Ma said. 

Winfield sat up and drank his milk, and instantly he was 
ravenous. He put the mush pot between his legs and ate what 
was left and scraped at the crust on the sides. Ma poured the 
rest of the canned milk in a cup and sneaked it to Rose of 
Sharon to drink secretly in a corner. She poured the hot 
black coffee into the cups and passed them around. 

"Now will you tell what's goin' on?" Tom asked. "I wanta 
hear." 

Pa said uneasily, "I wisht Ruthie an' Winfiel' didn' hafta 
hear. Can't they go outside?" 

Ma said, "No. They got to act growed up, even if they 



544 The Grapes of Wrath 

ain't. They's no help for it. Ruthie you an' WinfieP ain't 

ever to say what you hear, else you'll jus' break us to pieces." 

"We won't," Ruthie said. "We're growed up." 

"Well, jus' be quiet, then." The cups of coffee were on the 
floor. The short thick flame of the lantern, like a stubby but- 
terfly's wing, cast a yellow gloom on the walls. 

"Now tell," said Tom. 

Ma said, "Pa, you tell." 

Uncle John slupped his coffee. Pa said, "Well, they 
dropped the price like you said. An' they was a whole slew a 
new pickers so goddamn hungry they'd pick for a loaf a 
bread. Go for a peach, an' somebody'd get it first. Gonna get 
the whole crop picked right off. Fellas runnin' to a new tree. 
I seen fightsone fella claims it's his tree, 'nother fella wants 
to pick off 'n it. Brang these here folks from as f ar's El Centro. 
Hungrier'n hell. Work all day for a piece a bread. I says to 
the checker, 'We can't work for two an' a half cents a box,' 
an' he says, 'Go on, then, quit. These fellas can.' I says, 
'Soon's they get fed up they won't.' An' he says, 'Hell, we'll 
have these here peaches in 'fore they get fed up.'" Pa 
stopped. 

"She was a devil," said Uncle John. "They say they's two 
hunderd more men comin' in tonight." 

Tom said, "Yeah! But how about the other?" 

Pa was silent for a while. "Tom," he said, "looks like you 
done it." 

"I kinda thought so. Couldn' see. Felt like it." 

"Seems like the people ain't talkin' 'bout much else," said 
Uncle John. "They got posses out, an' they's fellas talkin' up 
a lynchin' 'course when they catch the fella." 

Tom looked over at the wide-eyed children. They seldom 
blinked their eyes. It was as though they were afraid some- 



The Grapes of Wrath 545 

thing might happen in the split second of darkness. Tom said, 
"Well this fella that done it, he on'y done it after they killed 
Casy." 

Pa interrupted, "That ain't the way they're tellin' it now. 
They're sayin' he done it fust." 

Tom's breath sighed out, "Ah-h!" 

"They're workin' up a feelin' against us folks. That's what 
I heard. All them drum-corpse fellas an' lodges an' all that. 
Say they're gonna get this here fella." 

"They know what he looks like?" Tom asked. 

"Well not exacfly but the way I heard it, they think he 
got hit. They think he'll have " 

Tom put his hand up slowly and touched his bruised 
cheek. 

Ma cried, "It ain't so, what they say!" 

"Easy, Ma," Tom said. "They got it cold. Anything them 
drum-corpse fellas say is right if it's against us." 

Ma peered through the ill light, and she watched Tom's 
face, and particularly his lips. "You promised," she said. 

"Ma, I maybe this fella oughta go away. If this fella 
done somepin wrong, maybe he'd think, 'O.K. Le's get the 
hangin' over. I done wrong an' I got to take it.' But this fella 
didn' do nothin' wrong. He don' feel no worse'n if he killed 
a skunk." 

Ruthie broke in, "Ma, me an' WinfieF knows. He don* 
have to go this-fella'in' for us." 

Tom chuckled. "Well, this fella don' want no hanging 
'cause he'd do it again. An' same time, he don't aim to bring 
trouble down on his folks. Ma I got to go." 

Ma covered her mouth with her fingers and coughed to 
clear her throat. "You can't," she said. "They wouldn' be no 
way to hide out. You couldn' trus' nobody. But you can trus' 



546 The Grapes of Wrath 

us. We can hide you, an' we can see you get to eat while 

your face gets well." 

-But, Ma " 

She got to her feet. "You ain't goin'. We're a-takin' you. 
Al, you back the truck against the door. Now, I got it fig- 
gered ont. We'll put one mattress on the bottom, an' then 
Tom gets quick there, an' we take another mattress an' sort 
of fold it so it makes a cave, an' he's in the cave; and then we 
sort of wall it in. He can breathe out the end, ya see. Don't 
argue. That's what we'll do." 

Pa complained, "Seems like the man ain't got no say no 
more. She's jus' a heller. Come time we get settled down, I'm 
a-gonna smack her." 

"Come that time, you can," said Ma. "Roust up, Al. It's 
dark enough." 

Al went outside to the truck. He studied the matter and 
backed up near the steps. 

Ma said, "Quick now. Git that mattress in!" 

Pa and Uncle John flung it over the end gate. "Now that 
one." They tossed the second mattress up. "Now Tom, you 
jump up there an' git under. Hurry up." 

Tom climbed quickly, and dropped. He straightened one 
mattress and pulled the second on top of him. Pa bent it up- 
wards, stood it sides up, so that the arch covered Tom. He 
could see out between the side-boards of the truck. Pa and 
Al and Uncle John loaded quickly, piled the blankets on top 
of Tom's cave, stood the buckets against the sides, spread the 
last mattress behind. Pots and pans, extra clothes, went in 
loose, for their boxes had been burned. They were nearly 
finished loading when a guard moved near, carrying his shot- 
gun across his crooked arm. 

"What's goin' on here?" he asked. 



The Grapes of Wrath 547 

"We're goin' out," said Pa. 

"What for?" 

"Wellwe got a job offered good job." 

"Yeah? Where's it at?" 

"Why down by Weedpatch." 

"Let's have a look at you." He turned a flashlight in Pa's 
face, in Uncle John's, and in Al's. "Wasn't there another 
fella with you?" 

Al said, "You mean that hitch-hiker? Little short fella with 
a pale face?" 

"Yeah. I guess that's what he looked like." 

"We jus' picked him up on the way in. He went away this 
mornin' when the rate dropped." 

"What did he look like again?" 

"Short fella. Pale face." 

"Was he bruised up this mornin'?" 

"I didn' see nothin'," said Al. "Is the gas pump open?" 

"Yeah, till eight." 

"Git in," Al cried. "If we're gonna get to Weedpatch 'fore 
mornin' we gotta ram on. Gettin' in front, Ma?" 

"No, I'll set in back," she said. "Pa, you set back here too. 
Let Rosasharn set in front with Al an' Uncle John." 

"Give me the work slip, Pa," said Al. "I'll get gas an' 
change if I can." 

The guard watched them pull along the street and turn left 
to the gasoline pumps. 

"Put in two," said Al. 

"You ain't goin' far." 

"No, not far. Can I get change on this here work slip?" 

"Well I ain't supposed to." 

"Look, mister," Al said. "We got a good job offered if we 
get there tonight. If we don't, we miss out. Be a good fella." 



548 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well, O.K. You sign her over to me." 

Al got out and walked around the nose of the Hudson. 
"Sure I will," he said. He unscrewed the water cap and filled 
the radiator. 

"Two, you say?" 

"Yeah, two." 

"Which way you goin'?" 

"South. We got a job." 

"Yeah? Jobs is scarce regular jobs." 

"We got a frien'," Al said. "Job's all waitin' for us. Well, 
so long." The truck swung around and bumped over the dirt 
street into the road. The feeble headlight jiggled over the 
way, and the right headlight blinked on and off from a bad 
connection. At every jolt the loose pots and pans in the 
truck-bed jangled and crashed. 

Rose of Sharon moaned softly. 

"Feel bad?" Uncle John asked. 

"Yeah! Feel bad all a time. Wisht I could set still in a 
nice place. Wisht we was home an' never come. Connie 
wouldn' a went away if we was home. He would a studied 
up an' got someplace." Neither Al nor Uncle John answered 
her. They were embarrassed about Connie. 

At the white painted gate to the ranch a guard came to the 
side of the truck. "Coin' out for good?" 

"Yeah," said Al. "Coin' north. Got a job." 

The guard turned his flashlight on the truck, turned it up 
into the tent. Ma and Pa looked stonily down into the glare. 
"O.K." The guard swung the gate open. The truck turned 
left and moved toward 101, the great north-south highway* 

"Know where we're a-goin'?" Uncle John asked. 

"No," said Al. "Jus' goin', an' gettin' goddamn sick of it." 



The Grapes of Wrath 549 

"I ain't so tur'ble far from my time," Rose of Sharon said 
threateningly. "They better be a nice place for me." 

The night air was cold with the first sting of frost. Beside 
the road the leaves were beginning to drop from the fruit 
trees. On the load, Ma sat with her back against the truck 
side, and Pa sat opposite, facing her. 

Ma called, "You all right, Tom?" 

His muffled voice came back, "Kinda tight in here. We all 
through the ranch?" 

"You be careful," said Ma. "Might git stopped." 

Tom lifted up one side of his cave. In the dimness of the 
truck the pots jangled. "I can pull her down quick," he said. 
" 'Sides, I don' like gettin' trapped in here." He rested up on 
his elbow. "By God, she's gettin' cold, ain't she?" 

"They's clouds up," said Pa. "Fellas says it's gonna be an 
early winter." 

"Squirrels a-buildin' high, or grass seeds?" Tom asked. "By 
God, you can tell weather from anythin'. I bet you could 
find a fella could- tell weather from a old pair of under- 
drawers." 

"I dunno," Pa said. "Seems like it's gittin' on winter to me. 
Fella'd have to live here a long time to know." 

"Which way we a-goin'?" Tom asked. 

"I dunno. Al, he turned off lef '. Seems like he's goin' back 
the way we come." 

Tom said, "I can't figger what's best. Seems like if we get 
on the main highway they'll be more cops. With my face 
this-a-way, they'd pick me right up. Maybe we oughta keep 
to back roads." 

Ma said, "Hammer on the back. Get Al to stop." 

Tom pounded the front board with his fist; the truck 



550 The Grapes of Wrath 

pulled to a stop on the side of the road. Al got out and 
walked to the back. Ruthie and Winfield peeked out from 
under their blanket. 

"What ya want?" Al demanded. 

Ma said, "We got to figger what to do. Maybe we better 
keep on the back roads. Tom says so." 

"It's my face/' Tom added. "Anybody'd know. Any cop'd 
know me." 

"Well, which way you wanta go? I figgered north. We 
been south." 

"Yeah," said Tom, "but keep on back roads." 

Al asked, "How 'bout pullin' off an' catchin' some sleep, 
goin' on tomorra? " 

Ma said quickly, "Not yet. Le's get some distance fust." 

"O.K." Al got back in his seat and drove on. 

Ruthie and Winfield covered up their heads again. Ma 
called, "Is Winfiel' all right?" 

"Sure, he's awright," Ruthie said. "He been sleepin'." 

Ma leaned back against the truck side, "Gives ya a funny 
feelin' to be hunted like. I'm gittin' mean." 

"Ever'body's gittin' mean," said Pa. "Ever'body. You seen 
that fight today. Fella changes. Down that gov'ment camp 



we wasn' mean." 



Al turned right on a graveled road, and the yellow lights 
shuddered over the ground. The fruit trees were gone now, 
and cotton plants took their place. They drove on for twenty 
miles through the cotton, turning, angling on the country 
roads. The road paralleled a bushy creek and turned over a 
concrete bridge and followed the stream on the other side. 
And then, on the edge of the creek the lights showed a long 
line of red boxcars, wheelless; and a big sign on the edge of 
the road said, "Cotton Pickers Wanted." Al slowed down. 



The Grapes of Wrath 551 

Tom peered between the side-bars of the truck. A quarter of 
a mile past the boxcars Tom hammered on the car again. Al 
stopped beside the road and got out again. 

"Now what ya want?" 

"Shut off the engine an' climb up here," Tom said. 

Al got into the seat, drove off into the ditch, cut lights and 
engine. He climbed over the tail gate. "Awright," he said. 

Tom crawled over the pots and knelt in front of Ma. 
"Look," he said. "It says they want cotton pickers. I seen that 
sign. Now I been tryin' to figger how I'm gonna stay with 
you, an' not make no trouble. When my face gets well, 
maybe it'll be awright, but not now. Ya see them cars back 
there. Well, the pickers live in them. Now maybe they's 
work there. How about if you get work there an' live in one 
of them cars?" 

"How 'bout you?" Ma demanded. 

"Well, you seen that crick, all full a brush. Well, I could 
hide in that brush an' keep outa sight. An' at night you could 
bring me out somepin to eat. I seen a culvert, little ways 
back. I could maybe sleep in there." 

Pa said, "By God, I'd like to get my hands on some cotton! 
There's work, I un'erstan'." 

"Them cars might be a purty place to stay," said Ma. 
"Nice an' dry. You think they's enough brush to hide in, 
Tom?" 

"Sure. I been watchin'. I could fix up a little place, hide 
away. Soon's my face gets well, why, I'd come out." 

"You gonna scar purty bad," said Ma. 

"Hell! Ever'body got scars." 

"I picked four hunderd poun's oncet," Pa said. " 'Course 
it was a good heavy crop. If we all pick, we could get some 
money." 



552 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Could get some meat," said Al. "What'll we do right 
now?" 

"Go back there, an' sleep in the truck till mornin'," Pa said. 
"Git work in the mornin'. I can see them bolls even in the 
dark." 

"How 'bout Tom?" Ma asked. 

"Now you jus' forget me, Ma. I'll take me a blanket. You 
look out on the way back. They's a nice culvert. You can 
bring me some bread or potatoes, or mush, an' just leave it 
there. I'll come get it." 

"Well!" 

"Seems like good sense to me," said Pa. 

"It is good sense," Tom insisted. "Soon's my face gets a 
little better, why, I'll come out an' go to pickin'." 

"Well, awright," Ma agreed. "But don' you take no 
chancet. Don' let nobody see you for a while." 

Tom crawled to the back of the truck. "I'll jus' take this 
here blanket. You look for that culvert on the way back, 
Ma." 

"Take care," she begged. "You take care." 

"Sure," said Tom. "Sure I will." He climbed the tail board, 
stepped down the bank. "Good night," he said. 

Ma watched his figure blur with the night and disappear 
into the bushes beside the stream. "Dear Jesus, I hope it's 
awright," she said. 

Al asked, "You want I should go back now?" 

"Yeah," said Pa. 

"Go slow," said Ma. "I wanta be sure an' see that culvert 
he said about. I got to see that." 

Al backed and filled on the narrow road, until he had re- 
versed his direction. He drove slowly back to the line of box- 
cars. The truck lights showed the cat-walks up to the wide 



The Grapes of Wrath 553 

car doors. The doors were dark. No one moved in the night. 
Al shut off his lights. 

"You and Uncle John climb up back," he said to Rose of 
Sharon. "I'll sleep in the seat here." 

Uncle John helped the heavy girl to climb up over the tail 
board. Ma piled the pots in a small space. The family lay 
wedged close together in the back of the truck. 

A baby cried, in long jerking cackles, in one of the box- 
cars, A dog trotted out, sniffing and snorting, and moved 
slowly around the Joad truck. The tinkle of moving water 
came from the streambed. 



Chapter Twenty-Seven 



Pickers Wantedplacards on the road, 
I handbills out, orange-colored handbills Cotton 

V^ Pickers Wanted. 

Here, up this road, it says. 

The dark green plants stringy now, and the heavy bolls 
clutched in the pod. White cotton spilling out like popcorn. 

Like to get our hands on the bolls. Tenderly, with the 
fingertips. 

I'm a good picker. 

Here's the man, right here. 

I aim to pick some cotton. 

Got a bag? 

Well, no, I ain't. 

Cost ya a dollar, the bag. Take it out o' your first hunderd 
and fifty. Eighty cents a hunderd first time over the field. 
Ninety cents second time over. Get your bag there. One 
dollar. 'F you ain't got the buck, we'll take it out of your 
first hunderd and fifty. That's fair, and you know it. 

Sure it's fair. Good cotton bag, last all season. An' when 
she's wore out, draggin', turn 'er aroun', use the other end. 
Sew up the open end. Open up the wore end. And when 
both ends is gone, why, that's nice cloth! Makes a nice pair 
a summer drawers. Makes nightshirts. And well, hell a cot- 
ton bag's a nice thing. 



The Grapes of Wrath 555 

Hang it around your waist. Straddle it, drag it between 
your legs. She drags light at first. And your fingertips pick 
out the fluff, and the hands go twisting into the sack between 
your legs. Kids come along behind; got no bags for the kids 
use a gunny sack or put it in your ol' man's bag. She hangs 
heavy, some, now. Lean forward, hoist 'er along. Fm a good 
hand with cotton. Finger-wise, boll-wise. Jes' move along 
talkin', an' maybe singin' till the bag gets heavy. Fingers go 
right to it. Fingers know. Eyes see the work and don't see it. 

Talkin' across the rows 

They was a lady back home, won't mention no names- 
had a nigger kid all of a sudden. Nobody knowed before. 
Never did hunt out the nigger. Couldn' never hold up her 
head no more. But I started to tell she was a good picker. 

Now the bag is heavy, boost it along. Set your hips and 
tow it along, like a work horse. And the kids pickin' into the 
old man's sack. Good crop here. Gets thin in the low places, 
thin and stringy. Never seen no cotton like this here Cali- 
fornia cotton. Long fiber, bes' damn cotton I ever seen. Spoil 
the Ian' pretty soon. Like a fella wants to buy some cotton 
Ian' Don' buy her, rent her. Then when she's cottoned on 
down, move someplace new. 

Lines of people moving across the fields. Finger-wise. In- 
quisitive fingers snick in and out and find the bolls. Hardly 
have to look. 

Bet I could pick cotton if I was blind. Got a feelin* for a 
cotton boll. Pick clean, clean as a whistle. 

Sack's full now. Take her to the scales. Argue. Scale man 
says you got rocks to make weight. How 'bout him? His 
scales is fixed. Sometimes he's right, you got rocks in the 
sack. Sometimes you're right, the scales is crooked. Some- 
times both; rocks an' crooked scales. Always argue, always 



556 The Grapes of Wrath 

fight. Keeps your head up. An' his head up. What's a few 

rocks? Jus' one, maybe. Quarter pound? Always argue. 

Back with the empty sack. Got our own book. Mark in 
the weight. Got to. If they know you're markin', then they 
don't cheat. But God he'p ya if ya don' keep your own 
weight. 

This is good work. Kids runnin' aroun'. Heard 'bout the 
cotton-pickin' machine? 

Yeah, I heard. 

Think it'll ever come? 

Well, if it comes fella says it'll put han' pickin' out. 

Come night. All tired. Good pickin', though. Got three 
dollars, me an' the oP woman an' the kids. 

The cars move to the cotton fields. The cotton camps set 
up. The screened high trucks and trailers are piled high with 
white fluff. Cotton clings to the fence wires, and cotton rolls 
in little balls along the road when the wind blows. And clean 
white cotton, going to the gin. And the big, lumpy bales 
standing, going to the compress. And cotton clinging to 
your clothes and stuck to your whiskers. Blow your nose, 
there's cotton in your nose. 

Hunch along now, fill up the bag 'fore dark. Wise fingers 
seeking in the bolls. Hips hunching along, dragging the bag. 
Kids are tired, now in the evening. They trip over their feet 
in the cultivated earth. And the sun is going down. 

Wisht it would last. It ain't much money, God knows, but 
I wisht it would last. 

On the highway the old cars piling in, drawn by the hand- 
bills. 

Got a cotton bag? 

No. 

Cost ya a dollar, then. 



The Grapes of Wrath 557 

If they was on'y fifty of us, we could stay awhile, but 
they's five hunderd. She won't last hardly at all. I knowed a 
fella never did git his bag paid out. Ever' job he got a new 
bag, an' ever' fieP was done 'fore he got his weight. 

Try for God's sake ta save a little money! Winter's com- 
in' fast. They ain't no work at all in California in the winter. 
Fill up the bag 'fore it's dark. I seen that fella put two clods 
in. 

Well, hell. Why not? I'm jus' balancin' the crooked scales. 

Now here's my book, three hunderd an' twelve poun's. 

Right! 

Jesus, he never argued! His scales mus' be crooked. Well, 
that's a nice day anyways. 

They say a thousan' men are on their way to this field. 
We'll be fightin' for a row tomorra. We'll be snatchin' cot- 
con, quick. 

Cotton Pickers Wanted. More men picking, quicker to the 



Now into the cotton camp. 

Side-meat tonight, by God! We got money for side-meat! 
Stick out a han' to the little fella, he's wore out. Run in ahead 
in' git us four poun' of side-meat. The oP woman'll make 
some nice biscuits tonight, ef she ain't too tired. 



Chapter Twenty-Eight 

THE boxcars, twelve of them, stood end to end on a 
little flat beside the stream. There were two rows of 
six each, the wheels removed. Up to the big sliding 
doors slatted planks ran for cat-walks. They made good 
houses, water-tight and draftless, room for twenty-four 
families, one family in each end of each car. No windows, 
but the wide doors stood open. In some of the cars a canvas 
hung down in the center of the car, while in others only the 
position of the door made the boundary. 

The Joads had one end of an end car. Some previous occu- 
pant had fitted up an oil can with a stovepipe, had made a 
hole in the wall for the stovepipe. Even with the wide door 
open, it was dark in the ends of the car. Ma hung the tarpau- 
lin across the middle of the car. 

"It's nice," she said. "It's almost nicer than anything we 
had 'cept the gov'ment camp." 

Each night she unrolled the mattresses on the floor, and 
each morning rolled them up again. And every day they 
went into the fields and picked the cotton, and every night 
they had meat. On a Saturday they drove into Tulare, and 
they bought a tin stove and new overalls for Al and Pa and 
Winfield and Uncle John, and they bought a dress for Ma 
and gave Ma's best dress to Rose of Sharon. 

"She's so big," Ma said. "Jus' a waste of good money to get 
her a new dress now." 

558 



The Grapes of Wrath 559 

The Joads had been lucky. They got in early enough to 
have a place in the boxcars. Now the tents of the late-comers 
filled the little flat, and those who had the boxcars were old- 
timers, and in a way aristocrats. 

The narrow stream slipped by, out of the willows, and 
back into the willows again. From each car a hard-beaten 
path went down to the stream. Between the cars the clothes 
lines hung, and every day the lines were covered with drying 
clothes. 

In the evening they walked back from the fields, carrying 
their folded cotton bags under their arms. They went into 
the store which stood at the crossroads, and there were many 
pickers in the store, buying their supplies. 

"How much today?" 

"We're doin' fine. We made three and a half today. Wisht 
she'd keep up. Them kids is gettin' to be good pickers. Ma's 
worked 'em up a little bag for each. They couldn' tow a 
growed-up bag. Dump into ours. Made bags outa a couple 
old shirts. Work fine." 

And Ma went to the meat counter, her forefinger pressed 
against her lips, blowing on her finger, thinking deeply. 
"Might get some pork chops," she said. "How much?" 

"Thirty cents a pound, ma'am." 

"Well, lemme have three poun's. An' a nice piece a boilin' 
beef. My girl can cook it tomorra. An' a bottle a milk for my 
girl. She dotes on milk. Gonna have a baby. Nurse-lady toP 
her to eat lots a milk. Now, le's see, we got potatoes." 

Pa came close, carrying a can of sirup in his hands. "Might 
get this here," he said. "Might have some hotcakes." 

Ma frowned. "Well well, yes. Here, we'll take this here. 
Now we got plenty lard." 

Ruthie came near, in her hands two large boxes of Cracker 



560 The Grapes of Wrath 

Jack, in her eyes a brooding question, which on a nod or a 
shake of Ma's head might become tragedy or joyous excite- 
ment. "Ma?" She held up the boxes, jerked them up and 
down to make them attractive. 

"Now you put them back " 

The tragedy began to form in Ruthie's eyes. Pa said, 
"They're on'y a nickel apiece. Them little fellas worked 
good today." 

"Well" The excitement began to steal into Ruthie's eyes. 
"Awright." 

Ruthie turned and fled. Halfway to the door she caught 
Winfield and rushed him out the door, into the evening. 

Uncle John fingered a pair of canvas gloves with yellow 
leather palms, tried them on and took them off and laid them 
down. He moved gradually to the liquor shelves, and he 
stood studying the labels on the bottles. Ma saw him. "Pa," 
she said, and motioned with her head toward Uncle John. 

Pa lounged over to him. "Gettin' thirsty, John?" 

"No, I ain't." 

"Jus' wait till cotton's done," said Pa. "Then you can go 
on a hell of a drunk." 

" 'Tain't sweatin' me none," Uncle John said. "I'm workin* 
hard an' sleepin' good. No dreams nor nothin'." 

"Jus' seen you sort of droolin' out at them bottles." 

"I didn' hardly see 'em. Funny thing. I wanta buy stuff. 
Stuff I don't need. Like to git one a them safety razors. 
Thought I'd like to have some a them gloves over there. 
Awful cheap." 

"Can't pick no cotton with gloves," said Pa. 

"I know that. An' I don't need no safety razor, neither. 
Stuff settin' out there, you jus' feel like buyin' it whether 
you need it or not." 



The Grapes of Wrath 561 

Ma called, "Come on. We got ever'thing." She carried a 
bag. Uncle John and Pa each took a package. Outside Ruthie 
and Winfield were waiting, their eyes strained, their cheeks 
puffed and full of Cracker Jack. 

"Won't eat no supper, I bet," Ma said. 

People streamed toward the boxcar camp. The tents were 
lighted. Smoke poured from the stovepipes. The Joads 
climbed up their cat-walk and into their end of the boxcar. 
Rose of Sharon sat on a box beside the stove. She had a fire 
started, and the tin stove was wine-colored with heat. "Did 
ya get milk?" she demanded. 

"Yeah. Right here." 

"Give it to me. I ain't had any sence noon." 

"She thinks it's like medicine." 

"That nurse-lady says so," 

"You got potatoes ready?" 

"Right there-peeled." 

"We'll fry 'em," said Ma. "Got pork chops. Cut up them 
potatoes in the new fry pan. And th'ow in a onion. You 
fellas go out an' wash, an' bring in a bucket a water. Where's 
Ruthie an' Winfiel'? They oughta wash. They each got 
Cracker Jack," Ma told Rose of Sharon. "Each got a whole 
box." 

The men went out to wash in the stream. Rose of Sharon 
sliced the potatoes into the frying pan and stirred them about 
with the knife point. 

Suddenly the tarpaulin was thrust aside. A stout perspir- 
ing face looked in from the other end of the car. "How'd 
you all make out, Mis' Joad?" 

Ma swung around. "Why, evenin', Mis' Wainwright. We 
done good. Three an' a half. Three fifty-seven, exact." 

"We done four dollars." 



562 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Well," said Ma. " 'Course they's more of you." 

"Yeah. Jonas is growin' up. Havin' pork chops, I see." 

Winfield crept in through the door. "Ma!" 

"Hush a minute. Yes, my men jus' loves pork chops." 

"I'm cookin' bacon," said Mrs. Wainwright. "Can you 
smell it cookin'?" 

"No can't smell it over these here onions in the potatoes." 

"She's burnin'!" Mrs. Wainwright cried, and her head 
jerked back. 

"Ma," Winfield said. 

"What? You sick from Cracker Jack?" 

"Ma~Ruthie tol'." 

"Tol'what?" 

" 'Bout Torn." 

Ma stared. "Tol'?" Then she knelt in front of him. "Win- 
fiel', who'd she tell?" 

Embarrassment seized Winfield. He backed away. "Well, 
she on'y tol' a little bit." 

"Winfiel'! Now you tell what she said." 

"She she didn' eat all her Cracker Jack. She kep' some, an' 
she et jus' one piece at a time, slow, like she always done, an' 
she says, 'Bet you wisht you had some lef." 

"Winfiel'!" Ma demanded. "You tell now." She looked 
back nervously at the curtain. "Rosasharn, you go over talk 
to Mis' Wainwright so she don' listen." 

"How 'bout these here potatoes?" 

"I'll watch 'em. Now you go. I don' want her listenin r at 
that curtain." The girl shuffled heavily down the car and 
went around the side of the hung tarpaulin. 
Ma said, "Now, Winfiel', you tell." 

"Like I said, she et jus' one little piece at a time, an' she 
bust some in two so it'd las' longer." 



The Grapes of Wrath 563 

"Go on, hurry up." 

"Well, some kids come aroun', an* 'course they tried to get 
some, but Ruthie, she jus' nibbled an' nibbled, an' wouldn' 
give 'em none. So they got mad. An' one kid grabbed her 
Cracker Jack box." 

"WinfieF, you tell quick about the other." 

"I am," he said. "So Ruthie got mad an' chased 'em, an' she 
fit one, an' then she fit another, an' then one big girl up an' 
licked her. Hit 'er a good one. So then Ruthie cried, an' she 
said she'd git her big brother, an' he'd kill that big girl. An' 
that big girl said, Oh, yeah? Well, she got a big brother too." 
Winfield was breathless in his telling. "So then they fit, an' 
that big girl hit Ruthie a good one, an' Ruthie said her 
brother'd kill that big girl's brother. An' that big girl said 
how about if her brother kil't our brother. An' then an' 
then, Ruthie said our brother already kil't two fellas. An' 
an' that big girl said, 'Oh, yeah! You're jus' a little smarty 
liar.' An' Ruthie said, Oh, yeah? Well, our brother's a-hidin* 
right now from killin' a fella, an' he can kill that big girl's 
brother too. An' then they called names an' Ruthie throwed 
a rock, an' that big girl chased her, an' I come home." 

"Oh, my!" Ma said wearily. "Oh! My dear sweet Lord 
Jesus asleep in a manger! What we goin' to do now?" 
She put her forehead in her hand and rubbed her eyes. 
"What we gonna do now?" A smell of burning potatoes 
came from the roaring stove. Ma moved automatically and 
turned them. 

"Rosasharn!" Ma called. The girl appeared around the 
curtain. "Come watch this here supper. WinfieF, you go out 
an' you fin' Ruthie an' bring her back here." 

"Gonna whup her, Ma?" he asked hopefully. 

"No. This here you couldn' do nothin' about. Why, I 



564 The Grapes of Wrath 

wonder, did she haf ' to do it? No. It won't do no good to 

whup her. Run now, an' find her an' bring her back." 

Winfield ran for the car door, and he met the three men 
tramping up the cat-walk, and he stood aside while they 
came in. 

Ma said softly, "Pa, I got to talk to you. Ruthie toP some 
kids how Tom's a-hidin'." 

"What?" 

"She tor. Got in a fight an' toP." 

"Why, the little bitch!" 

"No, she didn' know what she was a-doin'. Now look, Pa. 
I want you to stay here. I'm goin' out an' try to fin' Tom an' 
tell him. I got to tell 'im to be careful. You stick here, Pa, 
an' kinda watch out for things. I'll take 'im some dinner." 

"Awright," Pa agreed. 

"Don' you even mention to Ruthie what she done. I'll tell 
her." 

At that moment Ruthie came in, with Winfield behind her. 
The little girl was dirtied. Her mouth was sticky, and her 
nose still dripped a little blood from her fight. She looked 
shamed and frightened. Winfield triumphantly followed her. 
Ruthie looked fiercely about, but she went to a corner of the 
car and put her back in the corner. Her shame and fierceness 
were blended. 

"I tor her what she done," Winfield said. 

Ma was putting two chops and some fried potatoes on a 
tin plate. "Hush, Winfiel'," she said. "They ain't no need to 
hurt her feelings no more'n what they'r.e hurt." 

Ruthie's body hurtled across the car. She grabbed Ma 
around the middle and buried her head in Ma's stomach, and 
her strangled sobs shook her whole body. Ma tried to loosen 



The Grapes of Wrath 565 

her, but the grubby fingers clung tight. Ma brushed the hair 
on the back of her head gently, and she patted her shoulders. 
"Hush," she said. "You didn' know." 

Ruthie raised her dirty, tear-stained, bloody face. "They 
stoled my Cracker Jack!" she cried. "That big son-of-a- 
bitch of a girl, she belted me" She went off into hard cry- 
ing again. 

"Hush!" Ma said. "Don' talk like that. Here. Let go. I'm 
a-goin' now." 

"Whyn't ya whup her, Ma? If she didn't git snotty with 
her Cracker Jack 'twouldn' a happened. Go on, give her a 
whup." 

"You jus' min' your business, mister," Ma said fiercely. 
"You'll git a whup yourself. Now leggo, Ruthie." 

Winfield retired to a rolled mattress, and he regarded the 
family cynically and dully. And he put himself in a good 
position of defense, for Ruthie would attack him at the first 
opportunity, and he knew it. Ruthie went quietly, heart- 
brokenly to the other side of the car. 

Ma put a sheet of newspaper over the tin plate. "I'm 
a-goin' now," she said. 

"Ain't you gonna eat nothin' yourself?" Uncle John de- 
manded. 

"Later. When I come back. I wouldn' want nothin' now." 
Ma walked to the open door; she steadied herself down the 
steep, cleated cat-walk. 

On the stream side of the boxcars, the tents were pitched 
close together, their guy ropes crossing one another, and the 
pegs of one at the canvas line of the next. The lights shone 
through the cloth, and all the chimneys belched smoke. Men 
and women stood in the doorways talking. Children ran 



566 The Grapes of Wrath 

feverishly about. Ma moved majestically down the line of 
tents. Here and there she was recognized as she went by. 
"Evenin', Mis' Joad." 
"EveninV 

"Takin' somepin out, Mis' Joad?" 
"They's a frien'. I'm takin' back some bread." 
She came at last to the end of the line of tents. She stopped 
and looked back. A glow of light was on the camp, and the 
soft overtone of a multitude of speakers. Now and then a 
harsher voice cut through. The smell of smoke filled the air. 
Someone played a harmonica softly, trying for an effect, one 
phrase over and over. 

Ma stepped in among the willows beside the stream. She 
moved off the trail and waited, silently, listening to hear any 
possible follower. A man walked down the trail toward the 
camp, boosting his suspenders and buttoning his jeans as he 
went. Ma sat very still, and he passed on without seeing her. 
She waited five minutes and then she stood up and crept on 
up the trail beside the stream. She moved quietly, so quietly 
that she could hear the murmur of the water above her soft 
steps on the willow leaves. Trail and stream swung to the 
left and then to the right again until they neared the high- 
way. In the gray starlight she could see the embankment and 
the black round hole of the culvert where she always left 
Tom's food. She moved forward cautiously, thrust her pack- 
age into the hole, and took back the empty tin plate which 
was left there. She crept back among the willows, forced her 
way into a thicket, and sat down to wait. Through the tangle 
she could see the black hole of the culvert. She clasped her 
knees and sat silently. In a few moments the thicket crept to 
life again. The field mice moved cautiously over the leaves. 
A skunk padded heavily and unself-consciously down the 



The Grapes of Wrath 567 

trail, carrying a faint effluvium with him. And then a wind 
stirred the willows delicately, as though it tested them, and a 
shower of golden leaves coasted down to the ground. Sud- 
denly a gust boiled in and racked the trees, and a cricking 
downpour of leaves fell. Ma could feel them on her hair and 
on her shoulders. Over the sky a plump black cloud moved, 
erasing the stars. The fat drops of rain scattered down, 
splashing loudly on the fallen leaves, and the cloud moved on 
and unveiled the stars again. Ma shivered. The wind blew 
past and left the thicket quiet, but the rushing of the trees 
went on down the stream. From back at the camp came the 
thin penetrating tone of a violin feeling about for a tune. 

Ma heard a stealthy step among the leaves far to her left, 
and she grew tense. She released her knees and straightened 
her head, the better to hear. The movement stopped, and 
after a long moment began again. A vine rasped harshly on 
the dry leaves. Ma saw a dark figure creep into the open and 
draw near to the culvert. The black round hole was obscured 
for a moment, and then the figure moved back. She called 
softly, "Tom!" The figure stood still, so still, so low to the 
ground that it might have been a stump. She called again, 
"Tom, oh, Tom!" Then the figure moved. 

"That you, Ma?" 

"Right over here." She stood up and went to meet him. 

"You shouldn' of came," he said. 

"I got to see you, Tom. I got to talk to you." 

"It's near the trail," he said. "Somebody might come by." 

"Ain't you got a place, Tom?" 

"Yeah but if well, s'pose somebody seen you with me 
whole fambly'd be in a jam." 

"I got to, Tom." 

"Then come along. Come quiet." He crossed the little 



568 The Grapes of Wrath 

stream, wading carelessly through the water, and Ma fol- 
lowed him. He moved through the brush, out into a field on 
the other side of the thicket, and along the plowed ground. 
The blackening stems of the cotton were harsh against the 
ground, and a few fluffs of cotton clung to the stems. A 
quarter of a mile they went along the edge of the field, and 
then he turned into the brush again. He approached a great 
mound of wild blackberry bushes, leaned over and pulled a 
mat of vines aside. "You got to crawl in," he said. 

Ma went down on her hands and knees. She felt sand 
under her, and then the black inside of the mound no longer 
touched her, and she felt Tom's blanket on the ground. He 
arranged the vines in place again. It was lightless in the cave. 

"Where are you, Ma?" 

"Here. Right here. Talk soft, Tom." 

"Don't worry. I been livin' like a rabbit some time." 

She heard him unwrap his tin plate. 

"Pork chops," she said. "And fry potatoes." 

"God Awmighty, an' still warm." 

Ma could not see him at all in the blackness, but she could 
hear him chewing, tearing at the meat and swallowing. 

"It's a pretty good hide-out," he said. 

Ma said uneasily, "Tom Ruthie toF about you." She 
heard him gulp. 

"Ruthie? What for?" 

"Well, it wasn' her fault. Got in a fight, an' says her 
brother'll lick that other girl's brother. You know how they 
do. An* she toF that her brother killed a man an' was hidin'." 

Tom was chuckling. "With me I was always gonna get 
Uncle John after 'em, but he never would do it. That's jus' 
kid talk, Ma. That's awright." 

"No, it ain't," Ma said. "Them kids'll tell it aroun' an' 



The Grapes of Wrath 569 

then the folks'll hear, an' they'll tell aroun', an' pretty soon, 
well, they liable to get men out to look, jus' in case. Tom, 
you got to go away." 

"That's what I said right along. I was always scared some- 
body'd see you put stuff in that culvert, an' then they'd 
watch." 

"I know. But I wanted you near. I was scared for you. I 
ain't seen you. Can't see you now. How's your face?" 

"Gettin' well quick." 

"Come clost, Tom. Let me feel it. Come clost." He 
crawled near. Her reaching hand found his head in the black- 
ness and her fingers moved down to his nose, and then over 
his left cheek. "You got a bad scar, Tom. An' your nose is 
all crooked." 

"Maybe tha's a good thing. Nobody wouldn't know me, 
maybe. If my prints wasn't on record, I'd be glad." He went 
back to his eating. 

"Hush," she said. "Listen!" 

"It's the wind, Ma. Jus' the wind." The gust poured down 
the stream, and the trees rustled under its passing. 

She crawled close to his voice. "I wanta touch ya again, 
Tom. It's like I'm blin', it's so dark. I wanta remember, even 
if it's on'y my fingers that remember. You got to go away, 
Tom." 

"Yeah! I knowed it from the start." 

"We made purty good," she said. "I been squirrelin' 
money away. Hoi* out your han\ Tom. I got seven dollars 
here." 

"I ain't gonna take ya money," he said. "I'll get 'long all 
right." 

"Hoi' out ya han 1 , Tom. I ain't gonna sleep none if' you 
got no money. Maybe you got to take a bus, or somepin. I 



570 The Grapes of Wrath 

want you should go a long ways off, three-four hunderd 

miles." 

"I ain't gonna take it." 

"Tom," she said sternly. "You take this money. You hear 
me? You got no right to cause me pain." 

"You ain't playin' fair," he said. 

"I thought maybe you could go to a big city. Los Angeles, 
maybe. They wouldn' never look for you there." 

"Hm-m," he said. "Lookie, Ma. I been all day an' all night 
hidin' alone. Guess who I been thinkin' about? Casy! He 
talked a lot. Used ta bother me. But now I been thinkin' what 
he said, an' I can remember all of it. Says one time he went 
out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an' he foun' he 
didn' have no soul that was his'n. Says he foun' he jus' got a 
little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no 
good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it 
was with the rest, an' was whole. Funny how I remember. 
Didn' think I was even listenin'. But I know now a fella ain't 
no good alone." 

"He was a good man," Ma said. 

Tom went on, "He spouted out some Scripture once, an' 
it didn' soun' like no hell-fire Scripture. He toP it twicet, an' 
I remember it. Says it's from the Preacher." 

"How's it go, Tom?" 

"Goes, 'Two are better than one, because they have a good 
reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lif ' up his 
fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he 
hath not another to help him up.' That's part of her." 

"Go on," Ma said. "Go on, Tom." 

"Jus' a little bit more. 'Again, if two lie together, then 
they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if 



The Grapes of Wrath 571 

one prevail against him, two shall withstand him, and a 
three-fold cord is not quickly broken/ " 

"An' that's Scripture?" 

"Casy said it was. Called it the Preacher." 

"Hush-listen." 

"On'y the wind, Ma. I know the wind. An' I got to think- 
in', Ma most of the preachin' is about the poor we shall have 
always with us, an' if you got nothin', why, jus 1 foP your 
hands an' to hell with it, you gonna git ice cream on gol' 
plates when you're dead. An' then this here Preacher says 
two get a better reward for their work." 

"Tom," she said. "What you aimin' to do?" 

He was quiet for a long time. "I been thinkin' how it was 
in that gov'ment camp, how our folks took care a theirselves, 
an' if they was a fight they fixed it theirself ; an' they wasn't 
no cops wagglin' their guns, but they was better order than 
them cops ever give. I been a-wonderin' why we can't do 
that all over. Throw out the cops that ain't our people. All 
work together for our own thingall farm our own Ian'." 

"Tom," Ma repeated, "what you gonna do?" 

"What Casy done," he said. 

"But they killed him." 

"Yeah," said Tom. "He didn' duck quick enough. He 
wasn' doing nothin' against the law, Ma. I been thinkin' a hell 
of a lot, thinkin' about our people livin' like pigs, an' the 
good rich Ian' layin' fallow, or maybe one fella with a million 
acres, while a hunderd thousan' good farmers is starvin'. An' 
I been wonderin' if all our folks got together an' yelled, like 
them fellas yelled, only a few of 'em at the Hooper ranch " 

Ma said, "Tom, they'll drive you, an' cut you down like 
they done to young Floyd." 



572 The Grapes of Wrath 

"They gonna drive me anyways. They drivin' all our 
people." 

"You don't aim to kill nobody, Tom?" 

"No. I been thinking long as I'm a outlaw anyways, maybe 
I could Hell, I ain't thought it out clear, Ma. Don' worry 
me now. Don' worry me." 

They sat silent in the coal-black cave of vines. Ma said, 
"How'm I gonna know 'bout you? They might kill ya an' 
I wouldn' know. They might hurt ya. How'm I gonna 
know?" 

Tom laughed uneasily, "Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella 
ain't got a soul of his own, but on'y a piece of a big one an' 
then " 

"Then what, Tom?" 

"Then it don' matter. Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. 
I'll be ever'where wherever you look. Wherever they's a 
fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's 
a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. If Casy knowed, why, 
I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an' I'll be in 
the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know 
supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' 
live in the houses they build why, I'll be there. See? God, 
I'm talkin' like Casy. Comes of thinkin' about him so much. 
Seems like I can see him sometimes." 

"I don' un'erstan'," Ma said. "I don' really know." 

"Me neither," said Tom. "It's jus' stuff I been thinkin' 
about. Get thinkin' a lot when you ain't movin' aroun'. You 
got to get back, Ma." 

"You take the money then." 

He was silent for a moment. "Awright," he said. 

"An', Tom, later when it's blowed over, you'll come 
back. You'll find us?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 573 

"Sure," he said. "Now you better go. Here, gimme your 
han'." He guided her toward the entrance. Her fingers 
clutched his wrist. He swept the vines aside and followed her 
out. "Go up to the field till you come to a sycamore on the 
edge, an' then cut acrost the stream. Good-by." 

"Good-by," she said, and she walked quickly away. Her 
eyes were wet and burning, but she did not cry. Her foot- 
steps were loud and careless on the leaves as she went 
through the brush. And as she went, out of the dim sky the 
rain began to fall, big drops and few, splashing on the dry 
leaves heavily. Ma stopped and stood still in the dripping 
thicket. She turned about took three steps back toward the 
mound of vines; and then she turned quickly and went back 
toward the boxca* camp. She went straight out to the cul- 
vert and climbed up on the road. The rain had passed now, 
but the sky was overcast. Behind her on the road she heard 
footsteps, and she turned nervously. The blinking of a dim 
flashlight played on the road. Ma turned back and started for 
home. In a moment a man caught up with her. Politely, he 
kept his light on the ground and did not play it in her face. 
"Evenin'," he said. 
Ma said, "Howdy." 

"Looks like we might have a little rain." 
"I hope not. Stop the pickin'. We need the pickin'." 
"I need the pickin' too. You live at the camp there?" 
"Yes, sir." Their footsteps beat on the road together. 
"I got twenty acres of cotton. Little late, but it's ready 
now. Thought I'd go down and try to get some pickers." 
"You'll get 'em awright. Season's near over." 
"Hope so. My place is only a mile up that way." 
"Six of us," said Ma. "Three men an' me an' two little 
fellas." 



574 The Grapes of Wrath 

"I'll put out a sign. Two miles this road." 

"We'll be there in the mornin'." 

"I hope it don't rain." 

"Me too," said Ma. "Twenty acres won' las' long." 

"The less it lasts the gladder I'll be. My cotton's late. 
Didn' get it in till late." 

"What you pay in', mister?" 

"Ninety cents." 

"We'll pick. I hear fellas say nex' year it'll be seventy-five 
or even sixty." 

"That's what I hear." 

"They'll be trouble," said Ma. 

"Sure. I know. Little fella like me can't do anything. The 
Association sets the rate, and we got to mind. If we don't 
we ain't got a farm. Little fella gets crowded all the time." 

They came to the camp. "We'll be there," Ma said. "Not 
much pickin' lef." She w r ent to the end boxcar and climbed 
the cleated walk. The low light of the lantern made gloomy 
shadows in the car. Pa and Uncle John and an elderly man 
squatted against the car wall. 

"Hello," Ma said. "Evenin', Mr. Wainwright." 

He raised a delicately chiseled face. His eyes were deep 
under the ridges of his brows. His hair was blue-white and 
fine. A patina of silver beard covered his jaws and chin. 
"Evenin', ma'am," he said. 

"We got pickin' tomorra," Ma observed. "Mile north. 
Twenty acres." 

"Better take the truck, I guess," Pa said. "Get in more 
pickin'." 

Wainwright raised his head eagerly. "S'pose we can 
pick?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 575 

"Why, sure. I walked a piece with the fella. He was comin' 
to get pickers." 

"Cotton's nearly gone. Purty thin, these here seconds. 
Gonna be hard to make a wage on the seconds. Got her 
pretty clean the fust time." 

"Your folks could maybe ride with us," Ma said. "Split 
the gas." 

"Well-that's frien'ly of you, ma'am." 

"Saves us both," said Ma. 

Pa said, "Mr. Wainwright he's got a worry he come to 
us about. We was a-talkin' her over." 

"What's the matter?" 

Wainwright looked down at the floor. "Our Aggie," he 
said. "She's a big girl near sixteen, an' growed up." 

"Aggie's a pretty girl," said Ma. 

"Listen 'im out," Pa said. 

"Well, her an' your boy Al, they're a-walkin' out ever' 
night. An' Aggie's a good healthy girl that oughta have a 
husban', else she might git in trouble. We never had no 
trouble in our family. But what with us bein' so poor off, 
now, Mis' Wainwright an' me, we got to worryin'. S'pose 
she got in trouble?" 

Ma rolled down a mattress and sat on it. "They out now?" 
she asked. 

"Always out," said Wainwright. "Ever' night." 

"Hm. Well, Al's a good boy. Kinda figgers he's a dung-hill 
rooster these days, but he's a good steady boy. I couldn' want 
for a better boy." 

"Oh, we ain't complainin' about Al as a fella! We like him. 
But what scares Mis' Wainwright an' me well, she's a 
growed-up woman-girl An' what if we go away, or you go 



576 The Grapes of Wrath 

away, an' we find out Aggie's in trouble? We ain't had no 

shame in our family." 

Ma said softly, "We'll try an' see that we don't put no 
shame on you." 

He stood up quickly. "Thank you, ma'am. Aggie's a 
gro wed-up woman-girl. She's a good girl jes' as nice an' 
good. We'll sure thank you, ma'am, if you'll keep shame 
from us. It ain't Aggie's fault. She's growed up." 

"Pa'll talk to Al," said Ma. "Or if Pa won't, I will." 

Wainwright said, "Good night, then, an' we sure thank 
ya." He went around the end of the curtain. They could 
hear him talking softly in the other end of the car, explaining 
the result of his embassy. 

Ma listened a moment, and then, "You fellas," she said. 
"Come over an' set here." 

Pa and Uncle John got heavily up from their squats. They 
sat on the mattress beside Ma. 

"Where's the little fellas?" 

Pa pointed to a mattress in the corner. "Ruthie, she 
jumped Winfiel' an' bit 'im. Made 'em both lay down. Guess 
they're asleep. Rosasharn, she went to set with a lady she 
knows." 

Ma sighed. "I foun' Tom," she said softly. "I sent 'im 
away. Far off." 

Pa nodded slowly. Uncle John dropped his chin on his 
chest. "Couldn' do nothin' else," Pa said. "Think he could, 
John?" 

Uncle John looked up. "I can't think nothin' out," he said. 
"Don't seem like I'm hardly awake no more." 

"Tom's a good boy," Ma said; and then she apologized, "I 
didn' mean no harm a-sayin' I'd talk to Al." 

"I know," Pa said quietly. "I ain't no good any more. 



The Grapes of Wrath 577 

Spen' all my time a-thinkin' how it use' ta be. Spen' all my 
time thinkin' of home, an' I ain't never gonna see it no more." 

"This here's purtier better Ian'," said Ma. 

"I know. I never even see it, thinkin' how the willow's los' 
its leaves now. Sometimes figgerin' to mend that hole in 
the south fence. Funny! Woman takin' over the fambly. 
Woman sayin' we'll do this here, an' we'll go there. An' I 
don' even care." 

"Woman can change better'n a man," Ma said soothingly. 
"Woman got all her life in her arms. Man got it all in his 
head. Don' you mind. Maybewell, maybe nex' year we can 
get a place." 

"We got nothin', now," Pa said. "Comin' a long timeno 
work, no crops. What we gonna do then? How we gonna git 
stuff to eat? An' I tell you Rosasharn ain't so far from due. 
Git so I hate to think. Go diggin' back to a oP time to keep 
from thinkin'. Seems like our life's over an' done." 

"No, it ain't," Ma smiled. "It ain't, Pa. An' that's one more 
thing a woman knows. I noticed that. Man, he lives in jerks- 
baby born an' a man dies, an' that's a jerk gets a farm an' 
loses his farm, an' that's a jerk. Woman, it's all one flow, like 
a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes 
right on. Woman looks at it like that. We ain't gonna die out. 
People is goin' on changin' a little, maybe, but goin' right 



on." 



"How can you tell?" Uncle John demanded. "What's to 
keep ever'thing from stoppin'; all the folks from jus' gittin' 
tired an' layin' down?" 

Ma considered. She rubbed the shiny back of one hand 
with the other, pushed the fingers of her right hand between 
the fingers of her left. "Hard to say," she said. "Ever'thing 
we do seems to me is aimed right at goin' on. Seems that 



578 The Grapes of Wrath 

way to me. Even gettin' hungry even bein' sick; some die, 

but the rest is tougher. Jus' try to live the day, jus' the day." 

Uncle John said, "If on'y she didn' die that time " 

"Jus' live the day," Ma said. "Don' worry yaself ." 

"They might be a good year nex' year, back home," said 
Pa. 

Ma said, "Listen!" 

There were creeping steps on the cat-walk, and then Al 
came in past the curtain. "Hullo," he said. "I thought you'd 
be sleepin' by now." 

"Al," Ma said. "We're a-talkin'. Come set here." 

"Sure O.K. I wanta talk too. I'll hafta be goin' away 
pretty soon now." 

"You can't. We need you here. Why you got to go 
away?" 

"Well, me an' Aggie Wainwright, we figgers to get mar- 
ried, an' I'm gonna git a job in a garage, an' we'll have a rent' 
house for a while, an'" He looked up fiercely. "Well, we 
are, an' they ain't nobody can stop us!" 

They were staring at him. "Al," Ma said at last, "we're 
glad. We're awful glad." 

"You are?" 

"Why, 'course we are. You're a growed man. You need a 
wife. But don' go right now, Al." 

"I promised Aggie," he said. "We got to go. We can't stan' 
this no more." 

"Jus' stay till spring," Ma begged. "Jus' till spring. Won't 
you stay till spring? Who'd drive the truck?" 

"Well " 

Mrs. Wainwright put her head around the curtain. "You 
heard yet?" she demanded. 

"Yeah! Jus' heard." 



The Grapes of Wrath 579 

"Oh, my! I wisht I wisht we had a cake. I wisht we had 
a cake or somepin." 

"I'll set on some coffee an' make up some pancakes," Ma 
said. "We got sirup." 

"Oh, my!" Mrs. Wainwright said. "Why-well. Look, 
I'll bring some sugar. We'll put sugar in them pancakes." 

Ma broke twigs into the stove, and the coals from the 
dinner cooking started them blazing. Ruthie and Ayinfield 
came out of their bed like hermit crabs from shells. For a 
moment they were careful; they watched to see whether 
they were still criminals. When no one noticed them, they 
grew bold. Ruthie hopped all the way to the door and back 
on one foot, without touching the wall. 

Ma was pouring flour into a bowl when Rose of Sharon 
climbed the cat- walk. She steadied herself and advanced cau- 
tiously. "What's a matter?" she asked. 

"Why, it's news!" Ma cried. "We're gonna have a little 
party 'count a Al an' Aggie Wainwright is gonna get mar- 
ried." 

Rose of Sharon stood perfectly still. She looked slowly at 
Al, who stood there flustered and embarrassed. 

Mrs. Wainwright shouted from the other end of the car, 
"I'm puttin' a fresh dress on Aggie. I'll be right over." 

Rose of Sharon turned slowly. She went back to the wide 
door, and she crept down the cat-walk. Once on the ground, 
she moved slowly toward the stream and the trail that went 
beside it. She took the way Ma had gone earlier into the 
willows. The wind blew more steadily now, and the bushes 
whished steadily. Rose of Sharon went down on her knees 
and crawled deep into the brush. The berry vines cut her 
face and pulled at her hair, but she didn't mind. Only when 
she felt the bushes touching her all over did she stop. She 



580 The Grapes of Wrath 

stretched out on her back. And she felt the weight of the 

baby inside of her. 

In the lightless car, Ma stirred, and then she pushed the 
blanket back and got up. At the open door of the car the 
gray starlight penetrated a little. Ma walked to the door and 
stood looking out. The stars were paling in the east. The 
wind blew softly over the willow thickets, and from the 
little stream came the quiet talking of the water. Most of 
the camp was still asleep, but in front of one tent a little fire 
burned, and people were standing about it, warming them- 
selves. Ma could see them in the light of the new dancing 
fire as they stood facing the flames, rubbing their hands; 
and then they turned their backs and held their hands 
behind them. For a long moment Ma looked out, and she 
held her hands clasped in front of her. The uneven wind 
whisked up and passed, and a bite of frost was in the air. Ma 
shivered and rubbed her hands together. She crept back and 
fumbled for the matches, beside the lantern. The shade 
screeched up. She lighted the wick, watched it burn blue for 
a moment and then put up its yellow, delicately curved ring 
of light. She carried the lantern to the stove and set it down 
while she broke the brittle dry willow twigs into the fire box. 
In a moment the fire was roaring up the chimney. 

Rose of Sharon rolled heavily over and sat up. "I'll git 
right up," she said. 

"Whyn't you lay a minute till it warms?" Ma asked. 

"No, I'll git." 

Ma filled the coffee pot from the bucket and set it on the 
stove, and she put on the frying pan, deep with fat, to get 
hot for the pones. "What's over you?" she said softly. 



The Grapes of Wrath 581 

"I'm a-goin' out," Rose of Sharon said. 

"Out where?" 

"Coin' out to pick cotton." 

"You can't," Ma said. "You're too far along." 

"No, I ain't. An' I'm a-goin'." 

Ma measured coffee into the water. "Rosasharn, you 
wasn't to the pancakes las' night." The girl didn't answer. 
"What you wanta pick cotton for?" Still no answer. "Is it 
'cause of Al an' Aggie?" This time Ma looked clpsely at her 
daughter. "Oh. Well, you don' need to pick." 

"I'm goin'." 

"Awright, but don' you strain yourself." 

"Git up, Pa! Wake up, git up! " 

Pa blinked and yawned. "Ain't slep' out," he moaned. 
"Musta been on to eleven o'clock when we went down." 

"Come on, git up, all a you, an' wash." 

The inhabitants of the car came slowly to life, squirmed 
up out of the blankets, writhed into their clothes. Ma sliced 
salt pork into her second frying pan. "Git out an' wash," she 
commanded. 

A light sprang up in the other end of the car. And there 
came the sound of the breaking of twigs from the Wain- 
wright end. "Mis' Joad," came the call. "We're gettin' ready. 
We'll be ready." 

Al grumbled, "What we got to be up so early for?" 

"It's on'y twenty acres," Ma said. "Got to get there. Ain't 
much cotton lef. Got to be there 'fore she's picked." Ma 
rushed them dressed, rushed the breakfast into them. "Come 
on, drink your coffee," she said. "Got to start." 

"We can't pick no cotton in the dark, Ma." 

"We can be there when it gets light." 



582 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Maybe it's wet." 

"Didn* rain enough. Come on now, drink your coffee. Al, 
soon's you're through, better get the engine runnin'." 

She called, "You near ready, Mis' Wainwright?" 

"Jus' eatin'. Be ready in a minute." 

Outside, the camp had come to life. Fires burned in front 
of the tents. The stovepipes from the boxcars spurted smoke. 

Al tipped up his coffee and got a mouthful of grounds. He 
went down the cat-walk spitting them out. 

"We're awready, Mis' Wainwright," Ma called. She 
turned to Rose of Sharon. She said, "You got to stay." 

The girl set her jaw. "I'm a-goin'," she said. "Ma, I got to 

go-" 
"Well, you got no cotton sack. You can't pull no sack." 

"I'll pick into your sack." 

"I wisht you wouldn'." 

"I'm a-goin'." 

Ma sighed. "I'll keep my eye on you. Wisht we could have 
a doctor." Rose of Sharon moved nervously about the car. 
She put on a light coat and took it off. "Take a blanket," Ma 
said. "Then if you wanta res', you can keep warm." They 
heard the truck motor roar up behind the boxcar. "We 
gonna be first out," Ma said exultantly. "Awright, get your 
sacks. Ruthie, don' you forget them shirts I fixed for you to 
pick in." 

Wainwrights and Joads climbed into the truck in the dark. 
The dawn was coming, but it was slow and pale. 

"Turn lef," Ma told Al. "They'll be a sign out where 
we're goin'." They drove along the dark road. And other 
cars followed them, and behind, in the camp, the cars were 
being started, the families piling in; and the cars pulled out 
on the highway and turned left. 



The Grapes of Wrath 583 

A piece of cardboard was tied to a mailbox on the right- 
hand side of the road, and on it, printed with blue crayon, 
"Cotton Pickers Wanted." Al turned into the entrance arid 
drove out to the barnyard. And the barnyard was full of 
cars already. An electric globe on the end of the white barn 
lighted a group of men and women standing near the scales, 
their bags rolled under their arms. Some of the women wore 
the bags over their shoulders and crossed in front. 

"We ain't so early as we thought," said Al. He pulled the 
truck against a fence and parked. The families climbed down 
and went to join the waiting group, and more cars came in 
from the road and parked, and more families joined the 
group. Under the light on the barn end, the owner signed 
them in. 

"Hawley?" he said. "H-a-w-1-e-y? How many?" 

"Four. Will " 

"Will." 

"Benton " 

"Benton." 

"Amelia " 

"Amelia." 

"Claire " 

"Claire. Who's next? Carpenter? How many?" 

"Six." 

He wrote them in the book, with a space left for the 
weights. "Got your bags? I got a few. Cost you a dollar." 
And the cars poured into the yard. The owner pulled his 
sheep-lined leather jacket up around his throat. He looked at 
the driveway apprehensively. "This twenty isn't gonna take 
long to pick with all these people," he said. 

Children were climbing into the big cotton trailer, digging 
their toes into the chicken-wire sides. "Git off there," the 



584 The Grapes of Wrath 

owner cried. "Come on down. You'll tear that wire loose." 
And the children climbed slowly down, embarrassed and 
silent. The gray dawn came. "I'll have to take a tare for 
dew," the owner said. "Change it when the sun comes out. 
All right, go out when you want. Light enough to see." 

The people moved quickly out into the cotton field and 
took their rows. They tied the bags to their waists and they 
slapped their hands together to warm stiff fingers that had to 
be nimble. The dawn colored over the eastern hills, and the 
wide line moved over the rows. And from the highway the 
cars still moved in and parked in the barnyard until it was 
full, and they parked along the road on both sides. The wind 
blew briskly across the field. "I don't know how you all 
found out," the owner said. "There must be a hell of a grape- 
vine. The twenty won't last till noon. What name? Hume? 
How many?" 

The line of people moved out across the field, and the 
strong steady west wind blew their clothes. Their fingers 
flew to the spilling bolls, and flew to the long sacks growing 
heavy behind them. 

Pa spoke to the man in the row to his right. "Back home 
we might get rain out of a wind like this. Seems a little mite 
frosty for rain. How long you been out here?" He kept his 
eyes down on his work as he spoke. 

His neighbor didn't look up. "I been here nearly a year." 

"Would you say it was gonna rain?" 

"Can't tell, an* that ain't no insult, neither. Folks that lived 
here all their life can't tell. If the rain can git in the way of a 
crop, it'll rain. Tha's what they say out here." 

Pa looked quickly at the western hills. Big gray clouds 
were coasting over the ridge, riding the wind swiftly. "Them 
looks like rain-heads," he said. 



The Grapes of Wrath 585 

His neighbor stole a squinting look. "Can't tell," he said. 
And all down the line of rows the people looked back at the 
clouds. And then they bent lower to their work, and their 
hands flew to the cotton. They raced at the picking, raced 
against time and cotton weight, raced against the rain and 
against each other only so much cotton to pick, only so 
much money to be made. They came to the other side of the 
field and ran to get a new row. And now they faced into the 
wind, and they could see the high gray clouds moving over 
the sky toward the rising sun. And more cars parked along 
the roadside, and new pickers came to be checked in. The 
line of people moved frantically across the field, weighed at 
the end, marked their cotton, checked the weights into their 
own books, and ran for new rows. 

At eleven o'clock the field was picked and the work was 
done. The wire-sided trailers were hooked on behind wire- 
sided trucks, and they moved out to the highway and drove 
away to the gin. The cotton fluffed out through the chicken 
wire and little clouds of cotton blew through the air, and 
rags of cotton caught and waved on the weeds beside the 
road. The pickers clustered disconsolately back to the barn- 
yard and stood in line to be paid off. 

"Hume, James. Twenty-two cents. Ralph, thirty cents. 
Joad, Thomas, ninety cents. Winfield, fifteen cents." The 
money lay in rolls, silver and nickels and pennies. And each 
man looked in his own book as he was being paid. "Wain- 
wright, Agnes, thirty-four cents. Tobin, sixty-three cents." 
The line moved past slowly. The families went back to their 
cars, silently. And they drove slowly away. 

Joads and Wainwrights waited in the truck for the drive- 
way to clear. And as they waited, the first drops of rain be- 
gan to fall. Al put his hand out of the cab to feel them. Rose 



586 The Grapes of Wrath 

of Sharon sat in the middle, and Ma on the outside. The girl's 

eyes were lusterless again. 

"You shouldn' of came," Ma said. "You didn' pick more'n 
ten-fifteen pounds." Rose of Sharon looked down at her 
great bulging belly, and she didn't reply. She shivered sud- 
denly and held her head high. Ma, watching her closely, un- 
rolled her cotton bag, spread it over Rose of Sharon's shoul- 
ders, and drew her close. 

At last the way was clear. Al started his motor and drove 
out into the highway. The big infrequent drops of rain 
lanced down and splashed on the road, and as the truck 
moved along, the drops became smaller and closer. Rain 
pounded on the cab of the truck so loudly that it could be 
heard over the pounding of the old worn motor. On the 
truck bed the Wainwrights and Joads spread their cotton 
bags over their heads and shoulders. 

Rose of Sharon shivered violently against Ma's arm, and 
Ma cried, "Go faster, Al. Rosasharn got a chill. Gotta get 
her feet in hot water." 

Al speeded the pounding motor, and when he came to the 
boxcar camp, he drove down close to the red cars. Ma was 
spouting orders before they were well stopped. "Al," she 
commanded, "you an' John an' Pa go into the willows an' 
c'lect all the dead stuff you can. We got to keep warm." 

"Wonder if the roof leaks." 

"No, I don' think so. Be nice an' dry, but we got to have 
wood. Got to keep warm. Take Ruthie an' Winfiel' too. 
They can get twigs. This here girl ain't well." Ma got out, 
and Rose of Sharon tried to follow, but her knees buckled 
and she sat down heavily on the running board. 

Fat Mrs. Wainwright saw her. "What's a matter? Her time 
come?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 587 

"No, I don' think so," said Ma. "Got a chill. Maybe took 
col'. Gimme a han', will you?" The two women supported 
Rose of Sharon. After a few steps her strength came back 
her legs took her weight. 

"I'm awright, Ma," she said. "It was jus' a minute there." 

The older women kept hands on her elbows. "Feet in hot 
water," Ma said wisely. They helped her up the cat-walk and 
into the boxcar. 

"You rub her," Mrs. Wainwright said. "I'll get a far' 
goin'." She used the last of the twigs and built up a blaze in 
the stove. The rain poured now, scoured at the roof of the 
car. 

Ma looked up at it. "Thank God we got a tight roof," she 
said. "Them tents leaks, no matter how good. Jus' put on a 
little water, Mis' Wainwright." 

Rose of Sharon lay still on a mattress. She let them take off 
her shoes and rub her feet. Mrs. Wainwright bent over her. 
"You got pain?" she demanded. 

"No. Jus' don' feel good. Jus' feel bad." 

"I got pain killer an' salts," Mrs. Wainwright said. "You're 
welcome to 'em if you want 'em. Perfec'ly welcome." 

The girl shivered violently. "Cover me up, Ma. I'm col'." 
Ma brought all the blankets and piled them on top of her. 
The rain roared down on the roof. 

Now the wood-gatherers returned, their arms piled high 
with sticks and their hats and coats dripping. "Jesus, she's 
wet," Pa said. "Soaks you in a minute." 

Ma said, "Better go back an' get more. Burns up awful 
quick. Be dark purty soon." Ruthie and Winfield dripped in 
and threw their sticks on the pile. They turned to go again. 
"You stay," Ma ordered. "Stan' up close to the fire an' get 
dry." 



588 The Grapes of Wrath 

The afternoon was silver with rain, the roads glittered with 
water. Hour by hour the cotton plants seemed to blacken and 
shrivel. Pa and Al and Uncle John made trip after trip into 
the thickets and brought back loads of dead wood. They 
piled it near the door, until the heap of it nearly reached the 
ceiling, and at last they stopped and walked toward the stove. 
Streams of water ran from their hats to their shoulders. The 
edges of their coats dripped and their shoes squished as they 
walked. 

"Awright, now, get off them clothes," Ma said. "I got 
some nice coffee for you fellas. An' you got dry overhalls to 
put on. Don' stan' there." 

The evening came early. In the boxcars the families hud- 
dled together, listening to the pouring water on the roofs. 



Chapter Twenty-Nine 

OVER the high coast mountains and over the valleys 
the gray clouds marched in from the ocean. The 
wind blew fiercely and silently, high in the air, 
and it swished in the brush, and it roared in the forests. The 
clouds came in brokenly, in puffs, in folds, in gray crags; and 
they piled in together and settled low over the west. And 
then the wind stopped and left the clouds deep and solid. 
The rain began with gusty showers, pauses and downpours; 
and then gradually it settled to a single tempo, small drops 
and a steady beat, rain that was gray to see through, rain that 
cut midday light to evening. And at first the dry earth sucked 
the moisture down and blackened. For two days the earth 
drank the rain, until the earth was full. Then puddles formed, 
and in the low places little lakes formed in the fields. The 
muddy lakes rose higher, and the steady rain whipped the 
shining water. At last the mountains were full, and the hill- 
sides spilled into the streams, built them to freshets, and sent 
them roaring down the canyons into the valleys. The rain 
beat on steadily. And the streams and the little rivers edged 
up to the bank sides and worked at willows and tree roots, 
bent the willows deep in the current, cut out the roots of 
cottonwoods and brought down the trees. The muddy water 
whirled along the bank sides and crept up the banks until at 
last it spilled over, into the fields, into the orchards, into the 
cotton patches where the black stems stood. Level fields be- 

589 



590 The Grapes of Wrath 

came lakes, broad and gray, and the rain whipped up the sur- 
faces. Then the water poured over the highways, and cars 
moved slowly, cutting the water ahead, and leaving a boiling 
muddy wake behind. The earth whispered under the beat of 
the rain, and the streams thundered under the churning 
freshets. 

When the first rain started, the migrant people huddled in 
their tents, saying, It'll soon be over, and asking, How long's 
it likely to go on? 

And when the puddles formed, the men went out in the 
rain with shovels and built little dikes around the tents. The 
beating rain worked at the canvas until it penetrated and sent 
streams down. And then the little dikes washed out and the 
water came inside, and the streams wet the beds and the blan- 
kets. The people sat in wet clothes. They set up boxes and 
put planks on the boxes. Then, day and night, they sat on the 
planks. 

Beside the tents the old cars stood, and water fouled the 
ignition wires and water fouled the carburetors. The little 
gray tents stood in lakes. And at last the people had to move. 
Then the cars wouldn't start because the wires were shorted; 
and if the engines would run, deep mud engulfed the wheels. 
And the people waded away, carrying their wet blankets in 
their arms. They splashed along, carrying the children, car- 
rying the very old, in their arms. And if a barn stood on high 
ground, it was filled with people, shivering and hopeless. 

Then some went to the relief offices, and they came sadly 
back to their own people. 

They's rulesyou got to be here a year before you can git 
relief. They say the gov'ment is gonna help. They don' know 
when. 

And gradually the greatest terror of all came along. 



The Grapes of Wrath 591 

They ain't gonna be no kinda work for three months. 

In the barns, the people sat huddled together; and the ter- 
ror came over them, and their faces were gray with terror. 
The children cried with hunger, and there was no food. 

Then the sickness came, pneumonia, and measles that went 
to the eyes and to the mastoids. 

And the rain fell steadily, and the water flowed over the 
highways, for the culverts could not carry the water. 

Then from the tents, from the crowded barns, groups of 
sodden men went out, their clothes slopping rags, their shoes 
muddy pulp. They splashed out through the water, to the 
towns, to the country stores, to the relief offices, to beg for 
food, to cringe and beg for food, to beg for relief, to try to 
steal, to lie. And under the begging, and under the cringing, 
a hopeless anger began to smolder. And in the little towns 
pity for the sodden men changed to anger, and anger at the 
hungry people changed to fear of them. Then sheriffs swore 
in deputies in droves, and orders were rushed for rifles, for 
tear gas, for ammunition. Then the hungry men crowded the 
alleys behind the stores to beg for bread, to beg for rotting 
vegetables, to steal when they could. 

Frantic men pounded on the doors of the doctors; and the 
doctors were busy. And sad men left word at country stores 
for the coroner to send a car. The coroners were not too 
busy. The coroners' wagons backed up through the mud and 
took out the dead. 

And the rain pattered relentlessly down, and the streams 
broke their banks and spread out over the country. 

Huddled under sheds, lying in wet hay, the hunger and the 
fear bred anger. Then boys went out, not to beg, but to steal; 
and men went out weakly, to try to steal. 

The sheriffs swore in new deputies and ordered new rifles; 



592 The Grapes of Wrath 

and the comfortable people in tight houses felt pity at first, 

and then distaste, and finally hatrecf for the migrant people. 

In the wet hay of leaking barns babies were born to 
women who panted with pneumonia. And old people curled 
up in corners and died that way, so that the coroners could 
not straighten them. At night the frantic men walked boldly 
to hen roosts and carried off the squawking chickens. If they 
were shot at, they did not run, but splashed sullenly away; 
and if they were hit, they sank tiredly in the mud. 

The rain stopped. On the fields the water stood, reflecting 
the gray sky, and the land whispered with moving water. 
And the men came out of the barns, out of the sheds. They 
squatted on their hams and looked out over the flooded land. 
And they were silent. And sometimes they talked very 
quietly. 

No work till spring. No work. 

And if no work no money, no food. 

Fella had a team of horses, had to use 'em to plow an' cul- 
tivate an' mow, wouldn' think a turnin' 'em out to starve 
when they wasn't workin'. 

Them's horses we're men. 

The women watched the men, watched to see whether the 
break had come at last. The women stood silently and 
watched. And where a number of men gathered together, 
the fear went from their faces, and anger took its place. And 
the women sighed with relief, for they knew it was all right 
the break had not come; and the break would never come as 
long as fear could turn to wrath. 

Tiny points of grass came through the earth, and in a few 
days the hills were pale green with the beginning year. 



Chapter Thirty 



IN THE boxcar camp the water stood in puddles, and the 
rain splashed in the mud. Gradually the little stream crept 
up the bank toward the low flat where the boxcars 
stood. 

On the second day of the rain Al took the tarpaulin down 
from the middle of the car. He carried it out and spread it on 
the nose of the truck, and he came back into the car and sat 
down on his mattress. Now, without the separation, the two 
families in the car were one. The men sat together, and their 
spirits were damp. Ma kept a little fire going in the stove, 
kept a few twigs burning, and she conserved her wood. The 
rain poured down on the nearly flat roof of the boxcar. 

On the third day the Wainwrights grew restless. "Maybe 
we better go 'long," Mrs. Wainwright said. 

And Ma tried to keep them. "Where'd you go an' be sure 
of a tight roof?" 

"I dunno, but I got a feelin' we oughta go along." They 
argued together, and Ma watched Al. 

Ruthie and Winfield tried to play for a while, and then 
they too relapsed into sullen inactivity, and the rain drummed 
down on the roof. 

On the third day the sound of the stream could be heard 
above the drumming rain. Pa and Uncle John stood in the 
open door and looked out on the rising stream. At both ends 
of the camp the water ran near to the highway, but at the 

593 



594 The Grapes of Wrath 

camp it looped away so that the highway embankment sur- 
rounded the camp at the back and the stream closed it in on 
the front. And Pa said, "How's it look to you, John? Seems 
to me if that crick comes up, she'll flood us." 

Uncle John opened his mouth and rubbed his bristling 
chin. "Yeah," he said. "Might at that." 

Rose of Sharon was down with a heavy cold, her face 
flushed and her eyes shining with fever. Ma sat beside her 
with a cup of hot milk. "Here," she said. "Take this here. 
Got bacon grease in it for strength. Here, drink it!" 

Rose of Sharon shook her head weakly. "I ain't hungry." 

Pa drew a curved line in the air with his finger. "If we was 
all to get our shovels an' throw up a bank, I bet we could 
keep her out. On'y have to go from up there down to there." 

"Yeah," Uncle John agreed. "Might. Dunno if them other 
fellas'd wanta. They'd maybe ruther move somewheres else." 

"But these here cars is dry," Pa insisted. "Couldn' find no 
dry place as good as this. You wait." From the pile of brush 
in the car he picked a twig. He ran down the cat-walk, 
splashed through the mud to the stream and he set his twig 
upright on the edge of the swirling water. In a moment he 
was back in the car. "Jesus, ya get wet through," he said. 

Both men kept their eyes on the little twig on the water's 
edge. They saw the water move slowly up around it and 
creep up the bank. Pa squatted down in the doorway. 
"Comin' up fast," he said. "I think we oughta go talk to the 
other fellas. See if they'll help ditch up. Got to git outa here 
if they won't." Pa looked down the long car to the Wain- 
wright end. Al was with them, sitting beside Aggie. Pa 
walked into their precinct. "Water's risin'," he said. "How 
about if we throwed up a bank? We could do her if ever'- 
body helped." 



The Grapes of Wrath 595 

Wainwright said, "We was jes' talkin'. Seems like we 
oughta be gettin' outa here." 

Pa said, "You been aroun'. You know what chancet we 
got a gettin' a dry place to stay." 

"I know. But jes' the same " 

Al said, "Pa, if they go, I'm a-goin' too." 

Pa looked startled. "You can't, Al. The truck We ain't fit 
to drive that truck." 

"I don' care. Me an' Aggie got to stick together." 

"Now you wait," Pa said. "Come on over here." Wain- 
wright and Al got to their feet and approached the door. 
"See?" Pa said, pointing. "Jus' a bank from there an' down 
to there." He looked at his stick. The water swirled about 
it now, and crept up the bank. 

"Be a lot a work, an' then she might come over anyways," 
Wainwright protested. 

"Well, we ain't doin' nothin', might's well be workin*. We 
ain't gonna find us no nice place to live like this. Come on, 
now. Le's go talk to the other fellas. We can do her if ever'- 
body helps." 

Al said, "If Aggie goes, I'm a-goin' too." 

Pa said, "Look, Al, if them fellas won't dig, then we'll all 
hafta go. Come on, le's go talk to 'em." They hunched their 
shoulders and ran down the cat-walk to the next car and up 
the walk into its open door. 

Ma was at the stove, feeding a few sticks to the feeble 
flame. Ruthie crowded close beside her. "I'm hungry," 
Ruthie whined. 

"No, you ain't," Ma said. "You had good mush." 
"Wisht I had a box a Cracker Jack. There ain't nothin' to 
do. Ain't no fun." 



59^ The Grapes of Wrath 

"They'll be fun," Ma said. "You jus* wait. Be fun purty 
soon. Git a house an' a place, purty soon." 

"Wisht we had a dog," Ruthie said. 

"We'll have a dog; have a cat, too." 

"Yella cat?" 

"Don't bother me," Ma begged. "Don't go plaguin' me 
now, Ruthie. Rosasharn's sick. Jus' you be a good girl a little 
while. They'll be fun." Ruthie wandered, complaining, away. 

From the mattress where Rose of Sharon lay covered up 
there came a quick sharp cry, cut off in the middle. Ma 
whirled and went to her. Rose of Sharon was holding her 
breath and her eyes were filled with terror. 

"What is it?" Ma cried. The girl expelled her breath and 
caught it again. Suddenly Ma put her hand under the covers. 
Then she stood up. "Mis' Wainwright," she called. "Oh, Mis' 
Wainwright!" 

The fat little woman came down the car. "Want me?" 

"Look!" Ma pointed at Rose of Sharon's face. Her teeth 
were clamped on her lower lip and her forehead was wet 
with perspiration, and the shining terror was in her eyes. 

"I think it's come," Ma said. "It's early." 

The girl heaved a great sigh and relaxed. She released her 
lip and closed her eyes. Mrs. Wainwright bent over her. 

"Did it kinda grab you all over quick? Open up an' an- 
swer me." Rose of Sharon nodded weakly. Mrs. Wainwright 
turned to Ma. "Yep," she said. "It's come. Early, ya say?" 

"Maybe the fever brang it." 

"Well, she oughta be up on her feet. Oughta be walkin' 



aroun'." 



"She can't," Ma said. "She ain't got the strength." 
"Well, she oughta." Mrs. Wainwright grew quiet and 
stern with efficiency. "I he'ped with lots," she said. "Come 



The Grapes of Wrath 597 

on, le's close that door, nearly. Keep out the draf V The two 
women pushed on the heavy sliding door, boosted it along 
until only a foot was open. "I'll git our lamp, too," Mrs. 
Wainwright said. Her face was purple with excitement. 
"Aggie," she called. "You take care of these here little 
fellas." 

Ma nodded, "Tha's right. Ruthie! You an' Winfiel' go 
down with Aggie. Go on now." 

"Why?" they demanded. 

" 'Cause you got to. Rosasharn gonna have her baby." 

"I wanta watch, Ma. Please let me." 

"Ruthie! You git now. You git quick." There was no argu- 
ment against such a tone. Ruthie and Winfield went reluc- 
tantly down the car. Ma lighted the lantern. Mrs. Wain- 
wright brought her Rochester lamp down and set it on the 
floor, and its big circular flame lighted the boxcar brightly. 

Ruthie and Winfield stood behind the brush pile and 
peered over. "Gonna have a baby, an' we're a-gonna see," 
Ruthie said softly. "Don't you make no noise now. Ma won't 
let us watch. If she looks this-a-way, you scrunch down 
behin' the brush. Then we'll see." 

"There ain't many kids seen it," Winfield said. 

"There ain't no kids seen it," Ruthie insisted proudly. 
"On'y us." 

Down by the mattress, in the bright light of the lamp, Ma 
and Mrs. Wainwright held conference. Their voices were 
raised a little over the hollow beating of the rain. Mrs. Wain- 
wright took a paring knife from her apron pocket and 
slipped it under the mattress. "Maybe it don't do no good," 
she said apologetically. "Our folks always done it. Don't do 
no harm, anyways." 

Ma nodded. "We used a plow point. I guess anything 



598 The Grapes of Wrath 

sharp'll work, long as it can cut birth pains. I hope it ain't 

gonna be a long one." 

"You feelin' awright now?" 

Rose of Sharon nodded nervously. "Is it a-comin'?" 

"Sure," Ma said. "Gonna have a nice baby. You jus' got to 
help us. Feel like you could get up an' walk?" 

"I can try." 

"That's a good girl," Mrs. Wainwright said. "That is a 
good girl. We'll he'p you, honey. We'll walk with ya." They 
helped her to her feet and pinned a blanket over her shoul- 
ders. Then Ma held her arm from one side, and Mrs. Wain- 
wright from the other. They walked her to the brush pile 
and turned slowly and walked her back, over and over; and 
the rain drummed deeply on the roof. 

Ruthie and Winfield watched anxiously. "When's she 
goin' to have it?" he demanded. 

"Sh! Don't draw 'em. We won't be let to look." 

Aggie joined them behind the brush pile. Aggie's lean face 
and yellow hair showed in the lamplight, and her nose was 
long and sharp in the shadow of her head on the wall. 

Ruthie whispered, "You ever saw a baby bore?" 

"Sure," said Aggie. 

"Well, when's she gonna have it?" 

"Oh, not for a long, long time." 

"Well, how long?" 

"Maybe not 'fore tomorrow mornin'." 

"Shucks!" said Ruthie. "Ain't no good watchin' now, then. 
Oh! Look!" 

The walking women had stopped. Rose of Sharon had 
stiffened, and she whined with pain. They laid her down on 
the mattress and wiped her forehead while she grunted and 
clenched her fists. And Ma talked softly to her. "Easy," Ma 



The Grapes of Wrath 599 

said. "Gonna be all rightall right. Jus' grip ya han's. Now, 
then, take your lip inta your teeth. Tha's good tha's good." 
The pain passed on. They let her rest awhile, and then 
helped her up again, and the three walked back and forth, 
back and forth between the pains. 

Pa stuck his head in through the narrow opening. His hat 
dripped with water. "What ya shut the door for?" he asked. 
And then he saw the walking women. 

Ma said, "Her time's come." 

"Then then we couldn' go 'f we wanted to." 

"No." 

"Then we got to buil' that bank." 

"You got to." 

Pa sloshed through the mud to the stream. His marking 
stick was four inches down. Twenty men stood in the rain. 
Pa cried, "We got to build her. My girl got her pains." The 
men gathered about him. 

"Baby?" 

"Yeah. We can't go now." 

A tall man said, "It ain't our baby. We kin go." 

"Sure," Pa said. "You can go. Go on. Nobody's stoppin' 
you. They's only eight shovels." He hurried to the lowest 
part of the bank and drove his shovel into the mud. The 
shovelful lifted with a sucking sound. He drove it again, and 
threw the mud into the low place on the stream bank. And 
beside him the other men ranged themselves. They heaped 
the mud up in a long embankment, and those who had no 
shovels cut live willow whips and wove them in a mat and 
kicked them into the bank. Over the men came a fury of 
work, a fury of battle. When one man dropped his shovel, 
another took it up. They had shed their coats and hats. Their 
shirts and trousers clung tightly to their bodies, their shoes 



600 The Grapes of Wrath 

were shapeless blobs of mud. A shrill scream came from the 
Joad car. The men stopped, listened uneasily, and then 
plunged to work again. And the little levee of earth extended 
until it connected with the highway embankment on either 
end. They were tired now, and the shovels moved more 
slowly. And the stream rose slowly. It edged above the place 
where the first dirt had been thrown. 

Pa laughed in triumph. "She'd come over if we hadn' a 
built up!" he cried. 

The stream rose slowly up the side of the new wall, and 
tore at the willow mat. "Higher!" Pa cried. "We got to git 
her higher!" 

The evening came, and the work went on. And now the 
men were beyond weariness. Their faces were set and dead. 
They worked jerkily, like machines. When it was dark the 
women set lanterns in the car doors, and kept pots of coffee 
handy. And the women ran one by one to the Joad car and 
wedged themselves inside. 

The pains were coming close now, twenty minutes apart. 
And Rose of Sharon had lost her restraint. She screamed 
fiercely under the fierce pains. And the neighbor women 
looked at her and patted her gently and went back to their 
own cars. 

Ma had a good fire going now, and all her utensils, filled 
with water, sat on the stove to heat. Every little while Pa 
looked in the car door. "All right?" he asked. 

"Yeah! I think so," Ma assured him. 

As it grew dark, someone brought put a flashlight to work 
by. Uncle John plunged on, throwing mud on top of the 
wall. 

"You take it easy," Pa said. "You'll kill yaself." 



The Grapes of Wrath 60 1 

"I can't he'p it. I can't stan' that yellin'. It's like it's like 
w hen " 

"I know," Pa said. "But jus' take it easy." 

Uncle John blubbered, "I'll run away. By God, I got to 
work or I'll run away." 

Pa turned from him. "How's she stan' on the last marker?" 

The man with the flashlight threw the beam on the stick. 
The rain cut whitely through the light. "Comin' up." 

"She'll come up slower now," Pa said. "Got to flood purty 
far on the other side." 

"She's comin' up, though." 

The women filled the coffee pots and set them out again. 
And as the night went on, the men moved slower and slower, 
and they lifted their heavy feet like draft horses. More mud 
on the levee, more willows interlaced. The rain fell steadily. 
When the flashlight turned on faces, the eyes showed staring, 
and the muscles on the cheeks were welted out. 

For a long time the screams continued from the car, and 
at last they were still. 

Pa said, "Ma'd call me if it was bore." He went on shovel- 
ing the mud sullenly. 

The stream eddied and boiled against the bank. Then, 
from up the stream there came a ripping crash. The beam of 
the flashlight showed a great cottonwood toppling. The men 
stopped to watch. The branches of the tree sank into the 
water and edged around with the current while the stream 
dug out the little roots. Slowly the tree was freed, and slowly 
it edged down the stream. The weary men watched, their 
mouths hanging open. The tree moved slowly down. Then a 
branch caught on a stump, snagged and held. And very 
slowly the roots swung around and hooked themselves on 



602 The Grapes of Wrath 

the new embankment. The water piled up behind. The tree 
moved and tore the bank. A little stream slipped through. Pa 
threw himself forward and jammed mud in the break. The 
water piled against the tree. And then the bank washed 
quickly down, washed around ankles, around knees. The 
men broke and ran, and the current worked smoothly into 
the flat, under the cars, under the automobiles. 

Uncle John saw the water break through. In the murk he 
could see it. Uncontrollably his weight pulled him down. He 
went to his knees, and the tugging water swirled about his 
chest. 

Pa saw him go. "Hey! What's the matter?" He lifted him 
to his feet. "You sick? Come on, the cars is high." 

Uncle John gathered his strength. "I dunno," he said 
apologetically. "Legs give out. Jus' give out." Pa helped him 
along toward the cars. 

When the dike swept out, Al turned and ran. His feet 
moved heavily. The water was about his calves when he 
reached the truck. He flung the tarpaulin off the nose and 
jumped into the car. He stepped on the starter. The engine 
turned over and over, and there was no bark of the motor. 
He choked the engine deeply. The battery turned the sodden 
motor more and more slowly, and there was no cough. Over 
and over, slower and slower. Al set the spark high. He felt 
under the seat for the crank and jumped out. The water was 
higher than the running board. He ran to the front end. 
Crank case was under water now. Frantically he fitted the 
crank and twisted around and around, and his clenched hand 
on the crank splashed in the slowly flowing water at each 
turn. At last his frenzy gave out. The motor was full of 
water, the battery fouled by now. On slightly higher ground 
two cars were started and their lights on. They floundered in 



The Grapes of Wrath 603 

the mud and dug their wheels down until finally the drivers 
cut off the motors and sat still, looking into the headlight 
beams. And the rain whipped white streaks through the 
lights. Al went slowly around the truck, reached in, and 
turned off the ignition. 

When Pa reached the cat-walk, he found the lower end 
floating. He stepped it down into the mud, under water. 
"Think ya can make it awright, John?" he asked. 

"I'll be awright. Jus' go on." 

Pa cautiously climbed the cat-walk and squeezed himself 
in the narrow opening. The two lamps were turned low. Ma 
sat on the mattress beside Rose of Sharon, and Ma fanned her 
still face with a piece of cardboard. Mrs. Wainwright poked 
dry brush into the stove, and a dank smoke edged out around 
the lids and filled the car with a smell of burning tissue. Ma 
looked up at Pa when he entered, and then quickly down. 

"How-is she? "Pa asked. 

Ma did not look up at him again. "Awright, I think. 
Sleepin'." 

The air was fetid and close with the smell of the birth. 
Uncle John clambered in and held himself upright against 
the side of the car. Mrs. Wainwright left her work and came 
to Pa. She pulled him by the elbow toward the corner of the 
car. She picked up a lantern and held it over an apple box in 
the corner. On a newspaper lay a blue shriveled little 
mummy. 

"Never breathed," said Mrs. Wainwright softly. "Never 
was alive." 

Uncle John turned and shuffled tiredly down the car to 
the dark end. The rain whished softly on the roof now, so 
softly that they could hear Uncle John's tired sniffling from 
the dark. 



604 The Grapes of Wrath 

Pa looked up at Mrs. Wainwright. He took the lantern 
from her hand and put it on the floor. Ruthie and Winfield 
were asleep on their own mattress, their arms over their eyes 
to cut out the light. 

Pa walked slowly to Rose of Sharon's mattress. He tried to 
squat down, but his legs were too tired. He knelt instead. Ma 
fanned her square of cardboard back and forth. She looked 
at Pa for a moment, and her eyes were wide and staring, like 
a sleepwalker's eyes. 

Pa said, "We done what we could." 

"I know." 

"We worked all night. An' a tree cut out the bank." 

"I know." 

"You can hear it under the car." 

"I know. I heard it." 

"Think she's gonna be all right?" 

"I dunno." 

"Well-couldn' we-of did nothin?" 

Ma's lips were stiff and white. "No. They was on'y one 
thing to do ever an' we done it." 

"We worked till we dropped, an' a tree Rain's lettin' up 
some." Ma looked at the ceiling, and then down again. Pa 
went on, compelled to talk. "I dunno how high she'll rise. 
Might flood the car." 

"I know." 

"You know ever'thing." 

She was silent, and the cardboard moved slowly back and 
forth. 

"Did we slip up?" he pleaded. "Is they anything we could 
of did?" 

Ma looked at him strangely. Her white lips smiled in a 



The Grapes of Wrath 605 

dreaming compassion. "Don't take no blame. Hush! It'll be 
awright. They's changes all over." 

"Maybe the watermaybe we'll have to go." 

"When it's time to go we'll go. We'll do what we got to 
do. Now hush. You might wake her." 

Mrs. Wainwright broke twigs and poked them in the 
sodden, smoking fire. 

From outside came the sound of an angry voice. "I'm goin' 
in an' see the son-of-a-bitch myself." 

And then, just outside the door, Al's voice, "Where you 
think you're goin'?" 

"Goin' in to see that bastard Joad." 

"No, you ain't. What's the matter'th you?" 

"If he didn't have that fool idear about the bank, we'd a 
got out. Now our car is dead." 

"You think ours is burnin' up the road?" 

"I'm a-goin' in." 

Al's voice was cold. "You're gonna fight your way 



in." 



Pa got slowly to his feet and went to the door* "Awright, 
Al. I'm comin' out. It's awright, Al." Pa slid down the cat- 
walk. Ma heard him say, "We got sickness. Come on down 
here." 

The rain scattered lightly on the roof now, and a new- 
risen breeze blew it along in sweeps. Mrs. Wainwright came 
from the stove and looked down at Rose of Sharon. "Dawn's 
a-comin' soon, ma'am. Whyn't you git some sleep? I'll set 
with her." 

"No," Ma said. "I ain't tar'd." 

"In a pig's eye," said Mrs. Wainwright. "Come on, you 
lay down awhile." 



606 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma fanned the air slowly with her cardboard. "You been 
frien'ly," she said. "We thank you." 

The stout woman smiled. "No need to thank. Everybody's 
in the same wagon. S'pose we was down. You'd a give us a 
han'." 

"Yes," Ma said, "we would." 

"Or anybody." 

"Or anybody. Use' ta be the fambly was fust. It ain't so 
now. It's anybody. Worse off we get, the more we got 
to do." 

"We couldn' a saved it." 

"I know," said Ma. 

Ruthie sighed deeply and took her arm from over her eyes. 
She looked blindly at the lamp for a moment, and then 
turned her head and looked at Ma. "Is it bore?" she de- 
manded. "Is the baby out?" 

Mrs. Wainwright picked up a sack and spread it over the 
apple box in the corner. 

"Where's the baby?" Ruthie demanded. 

Ma wet her lips. "They ain't no baby. They never was no 
baby. We was wrong." 

"Shucks!" Ruthie yawned. "I wisht it had a been a baby." 

Mrs. Wainwright sat down beside Ma and took the card- 
board from her and fanned the air. Ma folded her hands in 
her lap, and her tired eyes never left the face of Rose of 
Sharon, sleeping in exhaustion. "Come on," Mrs. Wain- 
wright said. "Jus' lay down. You'll be right beside her. Why, 
you'd wake up if she took a deep breath, even." 

"Awright, I will." Ma stretched out oh the mattress beside 
the sleeping girl. And Mrs. Wainwright sat on the floor and 
kept watch. 



The Grapes of Wrath 607 

Pa and Al and Uncle John sat in the car doorway and 
watched the steely dawn come. The rain had stopped, but 
the sky was deep and solid with cloud. As the light came, it 
was reflected on the water. The men could see the current of 
the stream, slipping swiftly down, bearing black branches of 
trees, boxes, boards. The water swirled into the flat where 
the boxcars stood. There was no sign of the embankment 
left. On the flat the current stopped. The edges of the flood 
were lined with yellow foam. Pa leaned out the door and 
placed a twig on the cat- walk, just above the water line. The 
men watched the water slowly climb to it, lift it gently and 
float it away. Pa placed another twig an inch above the water 
and settled back to watch. 

"Think it'll come inside the car?" Al asked. 

"Can't tell. They's a hell of a lot of water got to come 
down from the hills yet. Can't tell. Might start up to rain 
again." 

Al said, "I been a-thinkin'. If she come in, ever'thing'll get 
soaked." 

"Yeah." 

"Well, she won't come up more'n three-four feet in the 
car 'cause she'll go over the highway an' spread out first." 

"How you know?" Pa asked. 

"I took a sight on her, off the end of the car." He held his 
hand. " 'Bout this far up she'll come." 

"Awright," Pa said. "What about it? We won't be here." 

"We got to be here. Truck's here. Take a week to get the 
water out of her when the flood goes down." 

"Well-what's your idear?" 

"We can tear out the side-boards of the truck an' build a 
kinda platform in here to pile our stuff 'an to set up on." 



608 The Grapes of Wrath 

"Yeah? How'll we cook-how'll we eat?" 

"Well, it'll keep our stuff dry." 

The light grew stronger outside, a gray metallic light. The 
second little stick floated away from the cat- walk. Pa placed 
another one higher up. "Sure climbin'," he said. "I guess we 
better do that." 

Ma turned restlessly in her sleep. Her eyes started wide 
open. She cried sharply in warning, "Tom! Oh, Tom! 
Tom!" 

Mrs. Wainwright spoke soothingly. The eyes flicked 
closed again and Ma squirmed under her dream. Mrs. Wain- 
wright got up and walked to the doorway. "Hey!" she said 
softly. "We ain't gonna git out soon." She pointed to the 
corner of the car where the apple box was. "That ain't doin' 
no good. Jus' cause trouble an' sorra. Couldn' you fellas 
kinda take it out an' bury it?" 

The men were silent. Pa said at last, "Guess you're right 
Jus' cause sorra. 'Gainst the law to bury it." 

"They's lots a things 'gainst the law that we can't he'p 
doinV 

"Yeah." 

Al said, "We oughta git them truck sides tore off 'fore the 
water comes up much more." 

Pa turned to Uncle John. "Will you take an' bury it while 
Al an me git that lumber in?" 

Uncle John said sullenly, "Why do I got to do it? Why 
don't you fellas? I don' like it." And then, "Sure. I'll do it. 
Sure, I will. Come on, give it to me." His voice began to rise. 
"Come on! Give it to me." 

"Don' wake 'em up," Mrs. Wainwright said. She brought 



The Grapes of Wrath 609 

the apple box to the doorway and straightened the sack de- 
cently over it. 

"Shovel's standin' right behin' you," Pa said. 

Uncle John took the shovel in one hand. He slipped out 
the doorway into the slowly moving water, and it rose nearly 
to his waist before he struck bottom. He turned and settled 
the apple box under his other arm. 

Pa said, "Come on, Al. Le's git that lumber in." 

In the gray dawn light Uncle John waded around the end 
of the car, past the Joad truck; and he climbed the slippery 
bank to the highway. He walked down the highway, past the 
boxcar flat, until he came to a place where the boiling stream 
ran close to the road, where the willows grew along the road 
side. He put his shovel down, and holding the box in front 
of him, he edged through the brush until he came to the edge 
of the swift stream. For a time he stood watching it swirl by, 
leaving its yellow foam among the willow stems. He held the 
apple box against his chest. And then he leaned over and set 
the box in the stream and steadied it with his hand. He said 
fiercely, "Go down an' tell 'em. Go down in the street an' rot 
an' tell 'em that way. That's the way you can talk. Don' even 
know if you was a boy or a girl. Ain't gonna find out. Go on 
down now, an' lay in the street. Maybe they'll know then." 
He guided the box gently out into the current and let it go. 
It settled low in the water, edged sideways, whirled around, 
and turned slowly over. The sack floated away, and the box, 
caught in the swift water, floated quickly away, out of sight, 
behind the brush. Uncle John grabbed the shovel and went 
rapidly back to the boxcars. He sloshed down into the water 
and waded to the truck, where Pa and Al were working, 
taking down the one-by-six planks. 



6io The Grapes of Wrath 

Pa looked over at him. "Get it done?" 

"Yeah." 

"Well, look," Pa said. "If you'll he'p Al, I'll go down the 
store an' get some stuff to eat." 

"Get some bacon," Al said. "I need some meat." 

"I will," Pa said. He jumped down from the truck and 
Uncle John took his place. 

When they pushed the planks into the car door, Ma awak- 
ened and sat up. "What you doin'?" 

"Gonna build up a place to keep outa the wet." 

"Why?" Ma asked. "It's dry in here." 

"Ain't gonna be. Water's comin' up." 

Ma struggled up to her feet and went to the door. "We 
got to git outa here." 

"Can't," Al said. "All our stuff's here. Truck's here. 
Ever'thing we got." 

"Where's Pa?" 

"Gone to get stuff for breakfas'." 

Ma looked down at the water. It was only six inches down 
from the floor by now. She went back to the mattress and 
looked at Rose of Sharon. The girl stared back at her. 

"How you feel?" Ma asked. 

"Tar'd. Jus' tar'd out." 

"Gonna get some breakfas' into you." 

"I ain't hungry." 

Mrs. Wainwright moved beside Ma. "She looks all right. 
Come through it fine." 

Rose of Sharon's eyes questioned Ma, and Ma tried to 
avoid the question. Mrs. Wainwright walked to the stove. 

"Ma." 

"Yeah? What you want?" 

"Is-it-all right?" 



The Grapes of Wrath 611 

Ma gave up the attempt. She kneeled down on the mat- 
tress. "You can have more," she said. "We done ever'thing 
we knowed." 

Rose of Sharon struggled and pushed herself up. "Ma!" 

"You couldn' he'p it." 

The girl lay back again, and covered her eyes with her 
arms. Ruthie crept close and looked down in awe. She whis- 
pered harshly, "She sick, Ma? She gonna die?" 

" 'Course not. She's gonna be awright. Awright." 

Pa came in with his armload of packages. "How is she?" 

"Awright," Ma said. "She's gonna be awright." 

Ruthie reported to Winfield. "She ain't gonna die. Ma 
says so." 

And Winfield, picking his teeth with a splinter in a very 
adult manner, said, "I knowed it all the time." 

"How'd you know?" 

"I won't tell," said Winfield, and he spat out a piece of the 
splinter. 

Ma built the fire up with the last twigs and cooked the 
bacon and made gravy. Pa had brought store bread. Ma 
scowled when she saw it. "We got any money lef?" 

"Nope," said Pa. "But we was so hungry." 

"An' you got store bread," Ma Said accusingly. 

"Well, we was awful hungry. Worked all night long." 

Ma sighed. "Now what we gonna do?" 

As they ate, the water crept up and up. Al gulped his food 
and he and Pa built the platform. Five feet wide, six feet 
long, four feet above the floor. And the water crept to the 
edge of the doorway, seemed to hesitate a long time, and then 
moved slowly inward over the floor. And outside, the rain 
began again, as it had before, big heavy drops splashing on 
the water, pounding hollowly on the roof. 



612 The Grapes of Wrath 

Al said, "Come on now, let's get the mattresses up. Let's 
put the blankets up, so they don't git wet." They piled their 
possessions up on the platform, and the water crept over the 
floor. Pa and Ma, Al and Uncle John, each at a corner, lifted 
Rose of Sharon's mattress, with the girl on it, and put it on 
top of the pile. 

And the girl protested, "I can walk. I'm awright." And the 
water crept over the floor, a thin film of it. Rose of Sharon 
whispered to Ma, and Ma put her hand under the blanket 
and felt her breast and nodded. 

In the other end of the boxcar, the Wainwrights were 
pounding, building a platform for themselves. The rain 
thickened, and then passed away. 

Ma looked down at her feet. The water was half an inch 
deep on the car floor by now. "You, Ruthie Winfiel'!" she 
called distractedly. "Come get on top of the pile. You'll get 
cold." She saw them safely up, sitting awkwardly beside 
Rose of Sharon. Ma said suddenly, "We got to git out." 

"We can't," Pa said. "Like Al says, all our stuff's here. 
We'll pull off the boxcar door an' make more room to 
set on." 

The family huddled on the platforms, silent and fretful. 
The water was six inches deep in the car before the flood 
spread evenly over the embankment and moved into the 
cotton field on the other side. During that day and night 
the men slept soddenly, side by side on the boxcar door. 
And Ma lay close to Rose of Sharon. Sometimes Ma whis- 
pered to her and sometimes sat up quietly, her face brood- 
ing. Under the blanket she hoarded the remains of the store 
bread. 

The rain had become intermittent now little wet squalls 



The Grapes of Wrath 613 

and quiet times. On the morning of the second day Pa 
splashed through the camp and came back with ten pota- 
toes in his pockets. Ma watched him sullenly while he 
chopped out part of the inner wall of the car, built a fire, 
and scooped water into a pan. The family ate the steaming 
boiled potatoes with their fingers. And when this last food 
was gone, they stared at the gray water; and in the night 
they did not lie down for a long time. 

When the morning came they awakened nervously. Rose 
of Sharon whispered to Ma. 

Ma nodded her head. "Yes," she said. "It's time for it." 
And then she turned to the car door, where the men lay. 
"We're a-gettin' outa here," she said savagely, "gettin' to 
higher groun'. An' you're comin' or you ain't comin', but 
I'm takin' Rosasharn an' the little fellas outa here." 

"We can't!" Pa said weakly. 

"Awright, then. Maybe you'll pack Rosasharn to the 
highway, anyways, an' then come back. It ain't rainin' now, 
an' we're a-goin'." 

"Awright, we'll go," Pa said. 

Al said, "Ma, I ain't goinV 

"Why not?" 

"Well Aggie why, her an' me " 

Ma smiled. " 'Course," she said. "You stay here, Al. Take 
care of the stuff. When the water goes down why, we'll 
come back. Come quick, 'fore it rains again," she told Pa. 
"Come on, Rosasharn. We're goin' to a dry place." 

"I can walk." 

"Maybe a little, on the road. Git your back bent, Pa." 

Pa slipped into the water and stood waiting. Ma helped 
Rose of Sharon down from the platform and steadied her 
across the car. Pa took her in his arms, held her as high as he 



6 14 The Grapes of Wrath 

could, and pushed his way carefully through the deep water, 
around the car, and to the highway. He set her down on her 
feet and held onto her. Uncle John carried Ruthie and fol- 
lowed. Ma slid down into the water, and for a moment her 
skirts billowed out around her. 

"Winfier, set on my shoulder. Al we'll come back soon's 
the water's down. Al " She paused. "Ifif Tom comes tell 
him we'll be back. Tell him be careful. Winfiel'! Climb on 
my shoulder there! Now, keep your feet still." She stag- 
gered off through the breast-high water. At the highway 
embankment they helped her up and lifted Winfield from 
her shoulder. 

They stood on the highway and looked back over the 
sheet of water, the dark red blocks of the cars, the trucks 
and automobiles deep in the slowly moving water. And as 
they stood, a little misting rain began to fall. 

"We got to git along," Ma said. "Rosasharn, you feel 
like you could walk?" 

"Kinda dizzy," the girl said. "Feel like I been beat." 

Pa complained, "Now we're a-goin', where' we goin'?" 

"I dunno. Come on, give your han' to Rosasharn." Ma 
took the girl's right arm to steady her, and Pa her left. 
"Coin' someplace where it's dry. Got to. You fellas ain't 
had dry clothes on for two days." They moved slowly along 
the highway. They could hear the rushing of the water in 
the stream beside the road. Ruthie and Winfield marched 
together, splashing their feet against the road. They went 
slowly along the road. The sky grew, darker and the rain 
thickened. No traffic moved along the highway. 

"We got to hurry," Ma said. "If this here girl gits good 
an* wet I don't know what'll happen to her." 



The Grapes of Wrath 6 1 5 

"You ain't said where-at we're a-hurryin' to," Pa re- 
minded her sarcastically. 

The road curved along beside the stream. Ma searched the 
land and the flooded fields. Far off the road, on the left, on a 
slight rolling hill a rain-blackened barn stood. "Look!" Ma 
said. "Look there! I bet it's dry in that barn. Le's go there till 
the rain stops." 

Pa sighed. "Prob'ly get run out by the fella owns it." 

Ahead, beside the road, Ruthie saw a spot of red. She 
raced to it. A scraggly geranium gone wild, and there was 
one rain-beaten blossom on it. She picked the flower. She 
took a petal carefully off and stuck it on her nose. Winfield 
ran up to see. 

"Lemme have one?" he said. 

"No, sir! It's all mine. I foun' it." She stuck another red 
petal on her forehead, a little bright-red heart. 

"Come on, Ruthie! Lemme have one. Come on, now." He 
grabbed at the flower in her hand and missed it, and Ruthie 
banged him in the face with her open hand. He stood for a 
moment, surprised, and then his lips shook and his eyes 
welled. 

The others caught up. "Now what you done?" Ma asked. 
"Now what you done?" 

"He tried to grab my fl'ar." 

Winfield sobbed, "Ion'y wanted one tostick on my 
nose." 

"Give him one, Ruthie." 

"Leave him find his own. This here's mine." 

"Ruthie! You give him one." 

Ruthie heard the threat in Ma's tone, and changed her 
tactics. "Here," she said with elaborate kindness. "I'll stick 



616 The Grapes of Wrath 

on one for you." The older people walked on. Winfield held 
his nose near to her. She wet a petal with her tongue and 
jabbed it cruelly on his nose. "You little son-of-a-bitch," she 
said softly. Winfield felt for the petal with his fingers, and 
pressed it down on his nose. They walked quickly after the 
others. Ruthie felt how the fun was gone. "Here," she said. 
"Here's some more. Stick some on your forehead." 

From the right of the road there came a sharp swishing. 
Ma cried, "Hurry up. They's a big rain. Le's go through the 
fence here. It's shorter. Come on, now! Bear on, Rosasharn." 
They half dragged the girl across the ditch, helped her 
through the fence. And then the storm struck them. Sheets 
of rain fell on them. They plowed through the mud and up 
the little incline. The black barn was nearly obscured by the 
rain. It hissed and splashed, and the growing wind drove it 
along. Rose of Sharon's feet slipped and she dragged between 
her supporters. 

"Pa! Can you carry her?" 

Pa leaned over and picked her up. "We're wet through 
anyways," he said. "Hurry up. Winfiel' Ruthie! Run on 
ahead." 

They came panting up to the rain-soaked barn and stag- 
gered into the open end. There was no door in this end. A 
few rusty farm tools lay about, a disk plow and a broken 
cultivator, an iron wheel. The rain hammered on the roof 
and curtained the entrance. Pa gently set Rose of Sharon 
down on an oily box. "God Awmighty!" he said. 

Ma said, "Maybe they's hay inside. Look, there's a door." 
She swung the door on its rusty hinges. "They is hay," she 
cried. "Come on in, you." 

It was dark inside. A little light came in through the cracks 
between the boards. 



The Grapes of Wrath 617 

"Lay down, Rosasharn," Ma said. "Lay down an' res'. I'll 
try to figger some way to dry you off." 

Winfield said, "Ma!" and the rain roaring on the roof 
drowned his voice. "Ma!" 

"What is it? What you want?" 

"Look! In the corner." 

Ma looked. There were two figures in the gloom; a man 
who lay on his back, and a boy sitting beside him, his eyes 
wide, staring at the newcomers. As she looked, the boy got 
slowly up to his feet and came toward her. His voice 
croaked. "You own this here?" 

"No," Ma said. "Jus* come in outa the wet. We got a sick 
girl. You got a dry blanket we could use an' get her wet 
clothes off?" 

The boy went back to the corner and brought a dirty 
comfort and held it out to Ma. 

"Thank ya," she said. "What's the matter'th that fella?" 

The boy spoke in a croaking monotone. "Fust he was sick 
but now he's starvin'." 

"What?" 

"Starvin'. Got sick in the cotton. He ain't et for six days." 

Ma walked to the corner and looked down at the man. He 
was about fifty, his whiskery face gaunt, and his open eyes 
were vague and staring. The boy stood beside her. "Your 
pa?" Ma asked. 

"Yeah! Says he wasn' hungry, or he jus' et. Give me the 
food. Now he's too weak. Can't hardly move." 

The pounding of the rain decreased to a soothing swish on 
the roof. The gaunt man moved his lips. Ma knelt beside him 
and put her ear close. His lips moved again. 

"Sure," Ma said. "You jus' be easy. He'll be awright. You 
jus' wait'll I get them wet clo'es off'n my girl." 



618 The Grapes of Wrath 

Ma went back to the girl. "Now slip 'em off," she said. She 
held the comfort up to screen her from view. And when 
she was naked, Ma folded the comfort about her. 

The boy was at her side again explaining, "I didn' know. 
He said he et, or he wasn' hungry. Las' night I went an' bust 
a winda an' stoled some bread. Made 'im chew 'er down. But 
he puked it all up, an' then he was weaker. Got to have soup 
or milk. You folks got money to git milk?" 

Ma said, "Hush. Don' worry. We'll figger somepin out." 

Suddenly the boy cried, "He's dyin', I tell you! He's 
starvin' to death, I tell you." 

"Hush," said Ma. She looked at Pa and Uncle John stand- 
ing helplessly gazing at the sick man. She looked at Rose of 
Sharon huddled in the comfort. Ma's eyes passed Rose of 
Sharon's eyes, and then came back to them. And the two 
women looked deep into each other. The girl's breath came 
short and gasping. 

She said "Yes." 

Ma smiled. "I knowed you would. I knowed!" She looked 
down at her hands, tight-locked in her lap. 

Rose of Sharon whispered, "Will will you all go out?" 
The rain whisked lightly on the roof. 

Ma leaned forward and with her palm she brushed the 
tousled hair back from her daughter's forehead, and she 
kissed her on the forehead. Ma got up quickly. "Corne on, 
you fellas," she called. "You come out in the tool shed." 

Ruthie opened her mouth to speak. "Hush," Ma said. 
"Hush and git." She herded them through the door, drew 
the boy with her; and she closed the squeaking door. 

For a minute Rose of Sharon sat still in the whispering 
barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the com- 
fort about her. She moved slowly to the corner and stood 



The Grapes of Wrath 619 

looking down at the wasted face, into the wide, frightened 
eyes. Then slowly she lay down beside him. He shook his 
head slowly from side to side. Rose of Sharon loosened one 
side of the blanket and bared her breast. "You got to," she 
said. She squirmed closer and pulled his head close. "There!" 
she said. "There." Her hand moved behind his head and sup- 
ported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked 
up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled 
mysteriously.