The Grapes of Wrath


Word Count: 1247

The Grapes of Wrath was written by John
Steinbeck, in 1929. Steinbeck was born on
February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California.
Steinbeck did not like to narrate any of his
novels in which he had no background
information in. That is why he would often
live the life of his characters before he
wrote his novels or short stories. So in
preparation for The Grapes of Wrath he went
to Oklahoma, joined some migrants and rode
with them to California.

The Grapes of Wrath starts with Tom Joad, the
main character, hitchhiking a ride home after
being paroled from the state prison. The
reason he was in jail is because four years
ago he got into a bar fight and killed a man
out of self defense. That is why he only got
a seven-year sentence. He gets a ride from a
trucker who drops him off in front of the
road that leads to his house. Tom starts
walking toward his house when he comes along
a man named Jim Casy, who used to be a
preacher. Casy tells Tom that he doesn’t
preach anymore because he has lost the call.
He says that all things are holy, so why
should he preach when the people are holy and
he can just be with the holy people. Then
Casy joins Tom on the way to his house. When
they get to the house, they find that it is
deserted. They can’t imagine why, when they
see something. They see Muley Graves, an old
crazy neighbor of the Joad family. Muley
tells them that his family went to their
Uncle John’s house. So Tom and Casy sleep in
the fields for the night and then walk to
Uncle John’s in the morning.

When they get there, they notice everyone
getting ready to leave. The family explains
to Tom that the banks and large companies
closed out all the farms and most of the
farmers are heading out to California to find
work. The family sold all their belongings
and got a total of eighteen dollars for them.
Casy then joins them because he says he has
to be where the people are. Then when they
are ready to leave, Grandpa Joad has a fit
and the family has to drug him to calm him
down. So they leave Uncle John’s for
California. On the first night of the
journey, Grandpa has a stroke and dies. They
bury him and help a family named the Wilsons
fix their broken-down car. The Joads and
Wilsons travel to California together and
when they get to California, Mrs. Wilson gets
sick and has to stop the trip. The Joads give
the Wilsons some money and then leaves them.

En route to California, Grama Joad had gotten
sicker and sicker. When they get to the great
desert at night, Ma Joad notices that Grama
is dying. Ma tells Grama that the family
won’t survive if they have to stop in the
desert, and that they have to make it across.
Then Grama dies. When they get to a guard
station, Grama is already dead, but Ma tells
the guards that Grama needs to get to a
doctor quickly, and the guards let them go.
Once across the desert Ma tells everyone that
Grama died, and they leave her to be buried,
because they have no money.

Then the family gets to a camp for migrants.
All the men here are unable to find work.
Then a contractor comes into the camp and is
looking for workers. One of Tom’s friends
asks what the man is paying, and gets accused
of being a "red." Then the man is arrested,
and a fight starts. The sheriff tells
everyone that the camp will be burned. So the
Joads leave, with the exception of Casy who
got mixed up in the run-in with the sheriff,
and they find another government camp that is
clean, fair, and protected from the police.
Here Rose of Sharon’s husband deserts her and
the family. Although Rose of Sharon, who is
Tom’s sister, is pregnant. Then when the
family is out of money, they leave in search
of work. They hear of work in a peach
orchard, and head out for that. When they get
there, they are escorted into the orchard by
police. Outside the front of the orchard
there are many men yelling and screaming to
the workers. Once inside they begin picking
immediately so that they can have enough pay
for dinner that night. After dinner, Tom sets
out to see what all the men in front of the
orchard were yelling about. He finds Jim
Casy, who just got out of prison. Jim tells
Tom that they are striking against the owners
of the orchard who cut the