Chapters 21 – 25
Finally the Joad family comes across a decent Government-run camp where
there are no cops, and the farmers are able to establish their own rules. There are good facilities on the camp and Tom is eventually able to get a job, but not Pa.
Ma Joad meets with the Women’s Committee that has been formed in the camp
and has a conflict with a Mrs. Sandry who is a religious fanatic. She tells Rose of Sharon that the babies of sinners are born black and withered.
The local landowners are concerned about this camp and they incite the
police to try and break the camp up. There is to be a dance on Saturday night and men will infiltrate this event with a view to causing trouble.
men at the camp are ready for them and quickly squelch any problems.
That night a few men get together and tell tales, one of the usual pastimes.
of them tells a story about how a group of mountain people who joined
a union was mistreated by the local townspeople. They decided
to stage a ‘turkey shoot’ where they marched through the center
of town carrying guns as a show of force. After that the townspeople
left them to get on with their lives. He suggests that the
migrant farmers should do the same in California and that this could
dramatically improve their working conditions.
Work runs out in the vicinity of the
camp so the Joad's have to move on.
The Government Camp is a model for all such communities showing what can be
done when the migrant farmers are allowed some freedom to run their own lives. Being all in the same boat of no work, money and food, they pull together and support one another.
This makes them stronger and has a positive effect on their morale despite
the seriousness of their situation.
The dance is a release from their day-to-day drudgery and the well-organized
Camp Committee thwarts the threat of disruption.
In order to break the vice-like grip that the landowners have on the Okies
they need to organize a labor force that will resist the poor pay.
The landowners appreciate that such an organization could come from this
Government-run Camp and that is why they wish to destroy it, so keeping the power they have over the workers.
There is a stark contrast between the greedy landowners descended from
squatters and the Okies who themselves are peaceful and moral.
There are also problems between the local small farmers and the large
landowners who oppress them.
They monopolize the fruit and canning industry and are able to force prices low, so much so that the small farmers cannot afford even to harvest their own crops. In the hearts of many people, anger swells and surges – the grapes of wrath grow heavy and ripe.
At the beginning of the story, Tom’s main priority was getting back to his
family and trying to help them with their troubles. Now he is concerned about the bigger picture and the general plight of all the migrant community.
Ma maintains her position as the foundation on which the Joad family is
On the other hand, Pa has shown a general decline, so much so that he has
lost his position as head of the family, as Ma makes all the major decisions. If he could only obtain work this would improve his own self-esteem.
Rose of Sharon seems to be reverting to her childhood, the closer she comes to giving birth the worse she
gets, talking with a perpetual whine.