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The Analysis of Moral Found in John Steinbeck‟s Novel The Grapes of Wrath


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Title of Paper : The Analysis of Moral Found in John Steinbeck‟s Novel

The Grapes of Wrath

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The title of this paper is The Analysis of Moral Found in John Steinbeck‟sNovel



First, I would like to thank ALLAH SWT for the blessing and mercy, so that I can finish my paper, which is titled The Analysis of Moral Found in John Steinbeck‟sNovel The Grapes of Wrath.

By this chance, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Syahron Lubis, M.A, the dean of faculty of letters North Sumatera University. Then to Dr. Matius C.A. Sembiring, M.A, the head of english study program. Thanks for all because you had given me knowledge, especially in English. Special great thank to my supervisor, Drs. Parlindungan Purba, M.Hum who always gives me support, suggestion and knowledge in completing my paper.

Thanks for your kindness, careness and his personality that motivate me in writing this paper. Then, I would like to thank to my reader who helped me to read and check my paper. And I also would like to thank to my lecturers who taught me English at Department Diploma III.

My very special thanks to my beloved parent, Alm. Ridwan Ardhy Siregar and Sri Dina Pane. Daddy thanks for being my inspiration and thanks to my beloved mom who always pray, give me support and your love for me since I was child untill this time. Thank you because you are always beside me whatever your condition there will be. You always support me and give me solution in my life.


support me when I am down. Thanks for being kindness and I love you all. I will never forget whatever you do and every moments in me.

And I would like to say thank to my best friend Sos2Attack, Siska Amelia Simatupang, Amd., Rena Andari, Natassa Febrini and Rizy Khairuni Yulianda. And I also would like to say thank to the latest person from class A, my freedom fighter, Rizky Alvionita Sari, Muhammad Rizki and Nelly Octaviana. Thanks for all your love, attention and make me see what the meaning of friendship, I really love you. And to thank too for all my classmate class A that I can not mention one by one, who pass time since three years ago, we know how the happiness and sadness when we were in our class, till the time we will separate, of course I will miss you all.

After all a lot of thanks to my relatives and friends around me but also have much contributions for me in finishing my study. May Allah SWT bless you all.

Medan, 21st October 2014 The writer




1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 The Background of the Study

There are two kinds of narrative fictions that is imaginative fiction and non-imaginative fiction or scientific fiction. Imaginative fictions include short story, novel, myths, folk tales and others. Non-imaginative fiction includes essay, articles, book reports, editorials, text book, parables. Imaginative fiction is better known as literature besides drama and poetry. It is said imaginative works because subjectivity is more dominant than objectivity. That is why fiction is simply defined as a fictitious kind of writing.

This paper provides an analysis of moral through characters as reflected in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath. This novel tells emigration group of people who are represented by the Joad family farmer from Oklahoma to California. The emigration happened because of economic fall called depresion era in 1920s. At this time American economy was fatally bankrupt and all American people got its effect such as unemployment, criminals, homeless, hunger, digest and so on. This kind of social matter in clearly potrayed in the novel. And this is the first reson why this paper discusses about moral through this novel.


actions is good or bad has been denied. This is the second reason why this paper written.

It is just the moral words more often used to demonstrate the behavior and habits of individual or community. However a difference is sometimes made between morals and ethic. The difference between moral and ethic is moral shows our action directly while the ethic is science. The term moral is taken to refer to generally acepted standards of right and wrong in a societyand the term ethics taken to refer more principles which might appear by the group or individual belongs. This could be cultural ethic, social ethic, beliefs ethic or personal ethic.

Moral is the standard of human behavior based on what is considered ethically good or bad the deeds they do to show that they are being pressured. But first of all we have know the reason. Every deeds are not separated from a filling of hearts and thoughts where they have feel their lives are threatened and show through by the act. Then to discuss about two moral values in novel, the writer find the greedeness and patience to analyze the good or bad a character.

1.2 The Problem of the Study

(1) How is greediness reflected in the novel ? (2) How is patience reflected in the novel ?

1.3 The Scope of the Study


1.4 The Purpose of the Study

(1) To decribe the greediness on power in the novel (2) To describe the patience on suffering in the novel.

1.5 The Method of the Study



The word "novel" is derived from Italian word "novella" that used to describe a short, compact, broadly realistic tale popular during the medieval period. Novel had got something like its present meaning which tells us a characters and actions that represent of real life whose are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity'. In other word a novel, as we understand it is a story longer, more realistic and more complicated. The novel is now the most widely read all of kinds of literature and the new form of such kind of prose was then called „novel' novel means „new'.

Taylor (1981:460) says that a novel is a form of literary work. Novel is normally a prose work of quite some length and complexity, which attempts to reflect and express something of the quality or value of human experience or conduct. Novel creates by authors to represent their life experience that they put in written form. The novel deals with a human character in a social situation, man as a social being.

2.2 Character


learn and be the better for the experience or may miss the point and be unchanged. Generally, characters are divided into two, major character and minor character.

Roberts (1985:131) says that in fiction, a character may be defined as a verbal representation of a human being. Through action, speech, description and commentary, authors portray characters who are worth caring about, rooting for and even loving, although there are also characters people may laugh at, dislike, or even hate.

In reading a literary work, we often feel sympathy for a character, on the other hand we may feel no sympathy for another. A character's honesty, boldness or suffering may create a moving story that stirs our emotion and feeling. On the contrary, a character who is wicked, cruel, dishonest, etc, may give rise to our dislike. The ability of an author to describe his characters makes a reader feel that he is watching the reality of human life, and, consequently, the literary work becomes more interesting.

E.M. Foster (1970:75) says that there are two major types of character "round" and "flat". The basic trait of round character is that they recognize, change with, or adjust to circumstances. The round character profits from experience and undergoes a change or alteration, which may be shown in an action or actions the realization of new strength and therefore the affirmation of previous decisions, the acceptance of a new condition or the discovery of unrecognized truths. Round characters usually play a major role in a story.


with particular moral, intellectual, and emotional qualities by interference from what the persons say and their distinctive ways of saying it the dialogue and from what they do the action. The grounds in the characters' temperament, desires, and moral nature for their speech and actions are called their motivation.

A character may remain essentially stable or unchanged in outlook and disposition, from beginning to end of a work or may undergo a radical change either through a gradual process of development or as the result of a crisis. Whether a character remains stable or changes, the reader of a traditional and realistic work expects "consistency" the character should not suddenly break off and act in a way not plausibly grounded in his or her temperament as we have already come to know it.

2.3 Moral

Moral refers to manner, character and proper behavior. It is about doing of good and it sets some standard of virtuous conduct. When asked about moral, many people respond like this is not important. But if you look at the way in which moral values actually work in our everyday lives, you'll see that this is not the case.


what is the right thing to do in any situation, we can see that in fact, various values are shared to a greater or lesser extent. On some values there will be nearly unanimous agreement or may be considerable disagreement.

The word moral itself derives from Latin word “mores” the plural of “mos” means manners, custom, conduct, and the way of life. Goode (1977:4)

standards that group members share. These standards are used to judge whether something is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, right or wrong, moral or immoral. In other word, moral value is standard of attitude that based on the determination of right and wrong which regarded by those who make the standard of moral.

Salam (2000:2) says that moral has the same meaning with ethics, which contains the lesson about the good and bad of our conduct. So, conduct is evaluated as the good conduct or the bad conduct. The evaluation concerns the action, which is done expressly. Ethics is science, which talks about of human action or behavior, which can be evaluated as good and bad conduct.

A person is said moral if he or she is good in character or conduct, based on standards of right and wrong. A person gets a moral from what they do, think, and say. Moral used a terms such as good and bad, right and wrong to express preferences, decisions and choices or to criticizes. In other word, moral norms are standards to decide whether human conduct is right or wrong and bad or good.


has any objective justification, and how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is.

The distinction between moral and ethics is moral shows our action directly while ethics is a science. When this distinction is made, the term morals is taken to refer to generally accepted standards of right and wrong in a society and the term ethics is taken to refer to more abstract principles which might appear in a code of professional ethics or in ethical theory.

However, the terms moral philosophy or moral theory would refer to a set of abstract moral principles as appropriately as the term ethics, so it may be more practical to use the words interchange. Both of the terms refer to standards of right conduct and the judgments of particular actions as right or wrong by those standards. Moral define personal character while ethics stress a social system in which those moral are applied. In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics.


3. ANALYSIS 3.1 Greediness on Power

The great depression has implied one of the most horrible events in the history of America. The effect of great depressions has made millions of its citizen suffered from economic pressure. The great depression has been caused by some factors. First, it has an impact to the crash of the stock market prices. It is often identified as major cause of the great depression. Second, depression has resulted high cost problem economically. This has made imbalances between demand and supply.

Before the great depression, the condition of the American life had been stable. They fulfilled their needs, foods, nice house and absolutely they had a good car. But because the effect of economic matters, the people had to go out from their land. They had no job. The factories ware closed and the industries reduce their production. The companies also reduce the workers too.

The Grapes of Wrath summarizes man's life problem especially about the owners of land that borrows some money from the bank. Bank is accepted as the semi-god like institution for those who are lucky, but it is like monster for those who are the victim of the high rate. Thus, the contrast of bank use has been regarded as a source of problem. The picture of bank has been understood as trouble maker in the era of depression. A cynical comment from the land owner goes as follows :


The notion of the word monster is symbolical of selfish power. A monster is a fearful animal that eat its victim without any sense of pity. It is greedy for thinking its own benefit only. The monster is a huge animal that makes anything so small for its own target. Thus, the landowners have become the powerless target of the monster. Whatever the consequence is the monster is still the monster that fears the men in general.

It is factual that man who is powerless will be the victim of those who are strong. This is like nature law when animals survive based on their strength. The picture of such reality is clearly reflected in the novel. The existence of bank has become the root matter of people during the depression era. Everyone has been tied to the borrowing of money because of wanting to survive. Those who are lack of money will be target of hunger, disease, and life- frustrated situation available.

Human beings are humanly created for they have feelings to fell other's suffering. Human beings have also minds to look everything transparently and logically. Above all, human beings have spirit to go on living without any doubts to face challenges available on earth. The unity of feeling, mind and spirit has mad man as man who thinks others as they way men have their own natures or characters. Yet, the face of bank that is corrupted is not so far different from an animal that has no minds, feelings on others' way of living.


The bank has been the object of anger for its own benefit alone. The bank order to make the bank alive. The contrast happens in metaphor that man has no breath to breathe while the bank has the breath to breathe by taking people‟s money. The statement goes as the following expression:

“But-you see, a bank or a company can‟t do that, because those creatures don‟t breath air, don‟t eat side-meat. They breathe the profit; 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.” (3)

The quotations explain that the banks would die if they have no profits. Just the way men would do if they had no food. They have been aware that they are depriving poor men of their only source of food. It means that they have known to push them to death to save their banks.


“The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was part of the monster, a robot in the seat” (4)

The economic collapse has made people blind to see the truth. Power has become the instrument to exploit people in their weakness. The weak are the target of the strong. Moral value has been swept away by greediness just for simple reason that is survival. No touch of humanity is echoed anymore. Everyone has been blinded by material greediness. This happens so because there is no corridor of morality to be understood. The gap between good and bad is blurred out. What needs to be expected is material success that is to enrich individual in wrong way.

It is true when power is advanced the law is like natural or forest law. One who is strong becomes king over the weak. This picture is the essence of depression era in America during 1920‟s historically. Man has been trapped into

chaotic moment which leads them into living in selfishness. Greediness is the symbol of wealth by treating people wrongly or unjustly. Everybody becomes precarious on what they want and need. Moral shows the breakdown of people when they are forced to against themselves. The general feeling here is that when big business comes in worked the land. To them the land just another thing to make money. It did not care about the people it would effect because it only care about profit.


long as it was producing and providing money for the companies. If it wasn‟t,

then the bank would dump the property and move to another area of land and get rid of all the people there.

This was the beginning of the end for the small time farmer. Nowadays, people had no respect for the food they ate because they usually had no part in growing it or killing it.

“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” (5)

This quotation explain that the farmer lost in touch with the benefts of providing for themselves and not relying on somebody else to provide food for them. They think that doing this work for against their own people. The owner do not grow their own food or make their own clothes. They rely on big business to provide it all. People do not get the feeling as with farming does. Farmers work the land all year, getting it ready for the next season, because they know if they do that, they will be rewarded. The statement goes as the following expression: “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” (6)

This is explaining that the tenants paid for three dollars a day. But for another families, three dollars a day can‟t eat all. A hundred people have to go out

and wander the roads for just three dollars a day.


They cannot eat with only three dollars. Three dollars can‟t make a living

on the land. The economic crisis makes everyone as a victim. All are caught in something larger than themselves. This is a larger monster that has created the divides between the victims and made the upper lining against the lower.

The owner will change the human power (the tenants) with the machines (tractor). For the owner, this change is more efficient because of economical crisis. The owner should not pay the tenants. The work by tractor machines are more faster than human power. But the tenants had to work at the job to provide for their families. The way of man justifies his job, if he didn‟t do it, somebody else would.

The owner of the land cannot allow the tenants to work on their land anymore. The small unpainted house was mashed at one corner and it had been pushed off its foundations. They cannot give the advantages or profit whereas that the owner looking is profit. The farmers have nothing to do but stare dazedly at their dying corps, wondering how their families will survive. Their wife and kids watched them with fearful.

The monster unable to make high profits from tenant farming, evict the farmers from the land. Tenant farming is an agricultural system in which farmers rent farmland from a land owner. Some of the property owners are cruel, some are kind, but they are all the same. The farmer must leave their farm. They cannot complaining, protest, and they have nowhere to go.


in their paths, including the farm house. The statement goes as the following expression:

“We all got to figure. There‟s some way to stop this. It‟s not like lightning or earthquakes. We‟ve got a bad thing made by men, and by God that‟s something we can change” (8)

God create something to human, so human maintain and take care of what God‟s create. But sometimes every human just use their power to crushed and

destroyed what was God‟s create, depriving others and grab their independence.

The entire families that lives in the house has gone to work picking cotton to earn more money to buy a car and make a journey to California. The man who works the tractor knows what he is doing is destroying many lives but it is not his fault. He was not the one who took away their house, land and poverty. The owner, the banks, big business and the companies were the ones behind it all. The only thing they saw was dollar signs. The mentality of people show when they went in survival mode. When people are put into these types of situations their true colors are showed.

3.2 Patience on Suffering


The tenant farmers are the people who cultivate someone else‟s land, giving the land owner a share of the crops, that in the end they have been forced off of the land by the land owner or the banks or the monster. The drought has made the land dry up and the dust storm has made farming impossible. There is no money to be had in the farming business. The condition of American before economic crisis are stabile then the condition pictured as :

“I remembered. I sure did pick a nice time to get paroled. I othing I was gonna lay aroun‟ an‟ get up late an‟ ate 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” (9)

This quotation proves that before the great depression, the most American are in prosperity. They can fulfill their needs, have enough food, nice house and a good cars. Their lives are sufficient.

Nowadays, the economy is a mess, the land owner have realized that one tractor can doing the work of an entire family and requires less money to operate and maintain. Then they have to forced the tenant farmers off of the land. Families have collected all of their belongings and they have clear off their home. The home was several generation that have been in some of families on it. Then they had begun to move to California.


brochure that is brought by the people who get a job as grape or orange pickers. And the Joad‟s decides go to get a job as grape or orange pickers in a new land, California. They have the good view in California. They hope California will give them the prosperity and wealthy. They have a good view that in California everything is well.

“Well, I am, kinda. But I ain‟t othing 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.” (10)

But after they are all in California, they are all rejected from Californian‟s people.

“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” (11)

California is not as beautiful as they think. California does not give what they want. They afraid of lower paid and lose their job. They people who had come back from California also suggest the Joad‟s family to going back to their land. Because even they get the work, they are will paid with the very low salary. And they have no other choice, except receive the situation.

“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 our 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!” (12)


increased. Then next quotation bellow reflected how difficult for the people to get food in California :

“My wife an‟ the kids an‟ her brother all took an‟ went to California. They wasn‟t othing‟ to eat. They wasn‟t as mad as me, so they went. Bought an ol‟ Chevy an‟ took what they could. Fella came a-passin‟ out han‟bills say good wages in California. So they went. They wasn‟t othing‟to eat here” (13)

Quotation above explain that the they are starving. There‟s nothing food to

eat, they cannot bought what they want to eat. If there is food, the amount is little, and must be distributed among the other family members. Some of them also eat the unusual food, like frogs, prairie dogs, etc. They must eat these kinds of “food” or will die starving.

“For a while I eat 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 rabbits, an‟ sometimes a prairie chicken. Skunks get caught, an‟ coons, too” (14)

To survive in their bad situation and do not have enough money to buy a food, the people ate the food that should not good to be eat. They ate everything for keep on survive and alive.

They people who had come back from California even suggest Joad‟s family going back to their land. Because they get the work, but they are paid with the very low salary. And they have no other choice, except receive the situation.


“In California they got high wages. I got han‟bill here tells about it. Horeshit! I seen folks comin‟ back. Somebody‟s kiddin‟ you” (15)

But the Joad‟s family does not give up because of the information. They keep the journey to the California because they do not have any other choice. They believe in California they will get the guaranteed life.

In their trip to California, they have to face the chain of investigation from the polices who check their stuff. One officer put down the license number and raised the hood. The police knew that they are immigrants. The people in California actually do not want these immigrants because they hate them.

“They were hungry, and they were fierce. And they had hoped to find a home, and they found only hatred” (16)

Californian‟s hated them because they were soft and the Okies strong. They were fed and the Okies hungry, and they had heard from their grandfathers how easy it is to steal land from the soft man if you are fierce and hungry and armed.


“Our kids ain‟t happy in 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 every day. Done good too.” (17)

The great depression cannot be separated from big business, companies, or every people who have power to get what they want. They take everything from poor people. Their home, their land, their propserity and their freedom to get a better life in their own land. For people who have power, they just care about how much money and profit that can be made.

The great depression resulting many problem. But there are some of people must be survive even if in their bad situation. And most of them moved to California. But actually, California is not a hope land. Most of people are rejected from there. Californian‟s are afraid Okies people get their job and Californian‟s

will be paid lower.

These owner or big companies are also made to create a very advantageous condition for the industrial sector in America. They also give a recommend to a goverment to made monopoly in factories business in domestic market. The land was just another thing to help them make money. They do not care about the effect and people‟s feeling, because they only cared about profits. When machines come in and take over a man‟s job, all the personal care and personal touch is gone as long as the land was producing and providing money. If it wasn‟t, then the bank would dump the property and move into another area of land and get rid of all the people there.




4.1 Conclusion

John Steinbeck‟s The Grapes of Wrath is both social and historical novel. It is said to be social because it deals with social matters such as jobless, homeless and violence or even criminals that happens in the United States during 1920‟s. The 1920‟s has been widely known as the economic tragic event because the country has failed to balance the economic matter. The hit is supposed to be great that brings people in depression. This picture of historical record is clearly portrayed in the novel. That is why it is called historical novel as well.

Economic depression has direct effects on people when bank as standard institution to control monetary fail to do its main duty. Men will get angry when they are starving; and men will be blind in jealousy when they have nothing to eat; and men will forget what goodness can be found in man when they have no homes to stay, and let alone having no money to buy things they need. In short, criminal act is supposed to be natural when people are unable to survive.


Men have minds to handle all the life matters they have. Patience is a gift to overcome any kind of the hit when someone is in real trouble. Patience is a mature respond to handle obstacle for not all problems are solvable; but they have way outs how heavy the problem is. The Grapes of Wrath is a portrait of life history that pictures how man‟s patience on shouldering suffering may result a sense of toughness and braver to go on living. Survival is the key answer that makes people to feel patient on their suffering.

4.2 Suggestion

Novel is a portrait of life that needs reading. It gives insight and understanding of men and their life problems. Novel is above all a summary of man‟s history recorded in life by writing. The novel The Grapes of Wrath is a good example for understanding American‟s life history especially great depression in 1920‟s. The economic failure has resulted some kinds of social problem such as violence, killing, theft, jobless, poverty, that are portrayed in it. So, those who read this novel may get understanding about life in particular and American history of depression in general.



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Foster, E.M. 1970. Aspects of Novel. Harmondswort : Penguin Book.

Goode, Wiliam J. 1977. Principle of Sociology. New York : McGraw. Hill Book Company.

Runes, Dagobert D. 1963. Treasure of World Philosophy. Paterson, New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams & Co.

Salam, Burhanuddin. 2000. Pola Dasar Filsafat Moral. Jakarta.Rineka Cipta. Sembiring, Matius, C.A. 2014. Buku Pedoman Program D-3. Medan : Faculty of

culture Study, English Departmen, USU.

Steinbeck, John. 1939. The Grapes of Wrath. New York. Penguin Book.

Steinbeck, John. 1996. The Grapes of Wrath & Other Writing 1936-1941. New York : Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.

Steinbeck, John. 1999. Amarah I (Pengantar dan Penerjemah Sapardi Djoko Damono). Jakarta : Yayasan Obor Indonesia.



A.Quotation of Data

(1) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath 1939 : 34 (2) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath 1939 : 36 (3) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 35 (4) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 37

(5) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 38 (6) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 38 (7) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath 1939 : 38 (8) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 39 (9) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 396 (10) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 297 (11) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 397 (12) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 413 (13) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 260 (14) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939: 260 (15) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 336 (16) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 458 (17) John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939 : 57 B. Summary of The Novel


prison. As he approaches his homeland, he comes across Reverend Jim Casy, his childhood preacher. Casy is not a preacher anymore and tells Tom about all of the lecherous things he did when he was a reverend.

The two men make their way to the old Joad farm, only to discover that it's completely abandoned. We're talking not a doily in sight. Muley Graves, an old family friend, stops by. He's a little creepy and looks like a man who has lived all by himself on a desert island for ten years. Muley shares his rabbit, and the three dine famously.

Muley gives Tom and Casy the lowdown. The tenant farmers (people who cultivate someone else's land, giving the landowner a share of the crops) have been forced off of the land by the landowners (the banks). The drought has made the land dry up, and the dust storm has made farming nearly impossible. There's no money to be had in the farming business. The economy is a mess (thanks to the stock market crash of 1929) and the landowners have realized that one tractor can do the work of an entire family and requires less money to operate and maintain. So the landowners have forced tenant farmers off of the land and out of their homes. Families have gathered all of their belongings, have vacated their homes (homes that have been in their families for generations) and have begun to move west to California. It is rumored that there is lots of space and plenty of jobs out west.


the idea of letting the landowners win. So, he lives the life of a vagrant, sleeping in abandoned homes and in riverbeds, making it his life's work to annoy the landowners and their minions. Tom, Casy, and Muley dive into the cornfields when they see a car approach their campfire. The landowner-minions have arrived to see who is trespassing. They search the house and flood the corn rows with light, but to no avail.

The next morning, Tom and Casy walk to Uncle John Joad's house. Lots of hootin' and hollerin' occur when the Joad's realize that their boy has come home at last. Tom is reunited with his mother (Ma Joad), his father (Pa Joad), his grandfather (Grampa), his grandmother (Granma), his brother Noah, his brother Al, his sister Rose of Sharon, his sister's husband Connie, his little brother Winfield, and his little sister Ruthie. Ma Joad is especially moved. She cooks up a delicious breakfast for everyone.

The Joads get ready for their trip. They pack up their car, a Jalopy, with their most essential possessions, and they sell the rest for $18 in town. When everything is packed a ready to go, Grampa realizes he wants to stay behind. He tells everyone he won't leave his home, and so they put four doses of sleepytime cough medicine in his coffee, and then they carry him to the car. It's not pleasant going. The only people protected from the sun are the three people in the driver and shotgun seats. Everyone else has to ride on top of the car, fully exposed to the sun. On the first day, one of their dogs gets run over by a car. It's pretty sad.


acting strangely. Grampa dies soon after of a stroke, and the men bury him in a really deep grave. Touched by each other's kindness, the Wilsons and Joads join forces, and the two families decide to caravan their way to California.

On the third day, the Wilsons' car breaks down. Tom and Al are master mechanics and realize that they need a new part in order to fix the car. Tom suggests that the families go on ahead without him and the preacher, and that they will stay behind and get the car fixed. Ma Joad refuses to leave anyone behind. And so the Joads go find a campsite down the road where they can chill (because Granma is not well) while Tom, Al, and the preacher stay and fix the broken car.

It doesn't take long for Tom and Al to fix the car, and they catch up with their family at a campsite whose owner charges people 50 cents a day to camp there. That's a lot of money when you only have $40 bucks to get you to California. A bunch of men are hanging out on the steps of the campsite owner's house. One man tells everyone that he's on his way back from California. He says that it's miserable out west, and that there aren't any jobs. Tom and Pa Joad are freaked out, but they decide not to worry about it too much.


The men go swimming in the cool river, and encounter a father and son who are on their way back from California. The father and son tell the Joads that life is bitter in California – there are no jobs to be had, and the Californians hate the migrant workers. Tom settles down for a nap, and his brother, Noah, tells him that he's not going with the family any further, that he's going to live by the Colorado River. Noah disappears.

Ma Joad looks after Granma. Granma is really sick, and a strange woman (a Jehovite) barges into the Joad tent and tells Ma Joad that Granma's going to die and she would like to assemble a prayer circle around her. Ma Joad says get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of our tent, and she sends the woman packing. A policeman stops by the tent to tell Ma that they have to leave, or else. Ma chases him out of the tent, too, with a skillet. Sairy Wilson is nearing death herself, and Ivy Wilson tells the Joads to push on without them. The Joads leave at 4pm, making their way across the Mojave Desert.

Later that night they arrive at a border patrol station, and the guard wants to inspect their truck to make sure they aren't smuggling fruit. Ma pleads with the border patrol to let them go quickly. She says that Granma is really sick. Unbeknownst to the rest of the family, Granma died a few miles back. Ma Joad doesn't want the family to get in trouble for have an dead old lady in their truck.


families living in tattered tents and makeshift shacks. Tom and Al make friends with one of the men there who is getting ready to go north to look for jobs. The man, Floyd Knowles, warns them that there are no jobs to be had here and the entire farming system is corrupt. Landowners are paying workers practically nothing, and the law is on their side, too.

A man posing as a contractor arrives at the Hooverville in a shiny car, and he tells the men he has work for them. Floyd demands to see his contracting license and to know how much the man intends to pay the workers. The contractor sets a policeman on Floyd, and Floyd runs away. Tom trips the policeman, the policeman tries to shoot Floyd (but shoots a woman's knuckles off instead), and then Casy kicks the policeman unconscious. More police arrive, and Casy turns himself in, saying goodbye to the Joads. Around the same time, everyone realizes that Connie Rivers (Rose of Sharon's husband) has run away for good – the pregnant Rose of Sharon is a mess, and Uncle John gets drunk.


Tom encounters Reverend Casy in tent not far down the road. The two exchange stories, and Casy tells Tom he and his buddies have been picketing low wages, trying to get landowners to treat workers fairly. The men hear footsteps and realize that they are being pursued. Casy and Tom escape along the creek, but they are soon caught by the authorities. Someone drives a pick axe into Casy's head. Tom's nose gets broken and his cheek is torn. He takes the pick axe from Casy's head and drives it into the man who killed Casy. Tom sneaks back to the peach camp and must hide throughout the next day.

The Joads sneak Tom out of the peach camp nestled between two mattresses. Tom decides to separate from his family and to live in the bushes while they look for work picking cotton. The Joad family sets up camp near an abandoned boxcar. Not much later, twelve-year-old Ruthie Joad gets into a fight and tells her bully that her brother has killed two men already and could kill the bully's brother, too. Ma finds Tom to tell him that the word is out and that he is in danger. Ma and Tom say goodbye to one another.

The winter rains come, and the creek near the abandoned boxcars starts to rise. Rose of Sharon goes into labor. Pa convinces a bunch of men to help him build troughs to keep the creek water from rising too quickly, but they are no match for the flood. Rose of Sharon's baby is still-born. The waters continue to rise until they flood the boxcars. The Joads build a platform to keep themselves dry.



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