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Free Study Guide: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - Free BookNotes

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THE GRAPES OF WRATH: FREE BOOKNOTES

CHAPTER 13

Summary

Al drives the truck and talks with Ma. They are overcrowded, and Al questions the wisdom of having Casy along. Ma insists that before the journey is over they will be happy that they have a preacher with them. Al asks her whether life will be really pleasant in California. Adopting Tomís philosophy, Ma says that it is pointless to worry about things that will come in the future. They stop near a clump of bushes since Granma needs to answer nature's call. They also have their lunch while stopped. As thirst sets in, they realize that they have forgotten to bring water with them. When they start panicking, Al calms them down by saying that they will stop at the next gas station to get gas and water.

When they stop at a rundown gas station, the attendant asks them whether they have any money. This angers Al, but the man explains that people come begging for a gallon of gas to move on. He starts complaining about people without money. Casy suggests that it is not the people's fault. He grumbles about his trade saying that none of the big new cars stop here and repeatedly asks what the country is coming to. This irritates Tom who reproaches him for dismissing Casy's explanation. Tom sees the run down condition of the gas station and realizes that the man is poor and he will have to move soon. He will not be evicted by the tractors, but by the pretty, new stations in town. Tom feels ashamed and apologizes for shouting at this fellow human being.

Rose of Sharon and Connie live in their own private world. Everything they say is a kind of secret. They dream about the baby, a big new car, and a house. When the Joads' dog is run over by a speeding car, Rose of Sharon is very upset and worries that her emotions may have an adverse impact on the baby. Ma and Connie assure her that it will not harm the baby in any way.

As they drive throughout the afternoon, Ma is worried about the fact that Tom is on parole and should not cross the state line of Oklahoma. Tom assures her that he will be safe if he avoids trouble. They look for a place to stop before the dark. They pull alongside some folks camping and ask them if they would object to some company. The couple introduce themselves as the Wilsons from Kansas. Their car has broken down, and Mr. Wilson does not know how to repair it. His wife, Sairy Wilson, welcomes the Joads.

When they help Grampa down from the truck, Noah observes that he is sick. Sairy Wilson suggests that Grampa lie down in their tent and rest. Grampa starts crying hoarsely without any warning. Casy and Sairy Wilson concur that Grampa is having a stroke. Grampa tries to say something, and although his lips move in an effort to form words, his voice fails him. Granma wants to see him and comes inside the tent. She thinks that Grampa is sulking. Casy tells her that Grampa is sick. She asks Casy to pray for him, but Casy says that he isn't a preacher any longer. Grampa's breathing stops, and he begins to turn purple. Granma insists that Casy pray. As Casy recites the Lord's prayer, Grampa dies from the stroke.


The family becomes a unit again, and they hold a meeting. Since the Joads cannot afford money for Grampa's burial, they must bury him themselves even though it is against the law. Casy tells them, "You got the right to do what you got to do." Ma lays out Grampa and is helped by Granma and Sairy Wilson. The men dig a grave and put in a bottle with a slip of paper stating Grampa's name and the manner of his death. In his funeral service, Casy says that it does not matter whether Grampa was good or bad. What is important is that he lived, and all that lives is holy. Casy says that rather than praying for Grampa, he should pray people who do not know which way to turn.

The Joads and the Wilsons share their supper. Over dinner, Casy remarks that Grampa really died spiritually the moment they left home. The Wilsons say that they have been traveling for three weeks now and have been plagued by constant car trouble. The Joads and the Wilsons have the same handbills advertising for fruit pickers, and Wilson wonders whether there will be enough work for everybody. Al and Tom repair the Wilsons' car and suggest that the two families travel together. The Joads are overcrowded, and the Wilsons do not know how to repair their car. Everybody agrees happily.

Notes

Grampa physically dies from a stroke in this chapter, but his real death occurs earlier. As Casy explains, Grampa died spiritually "the minute you took 'im off that place." The farming land in Oklahoma was an indispensable part of Grampa's life, and when he was forced to leave it, he had no identity and no will to live. It is appropriate and not surprising that he dies on the first day of the journey to California.

Some critics see Grampa's death as symbolizing the rupturing of the family as a unit. While undoubtedly Grampa's death marks the first upheaval of the Joad family unit, it is also the occasion of a positive and affirmative event, the adoption of the Wilsons by the Joads. The creation of the relationship between the Wilsons and the Joads follows the ideas of mutual help as propounded by Casy. Both the families realize the advantages of traveling together and helping each other. Thus, the Joad family diminishes in size only to be assumed into a larger universal family. This also foreshadows the later awakening of the Joads to the need of helping not only themselves but also everybody. The willingness to help expressed by Sairy Wilson, "People needs to help," also contrasts with the selfishness of the Californian fruit growers who want to pay the lowest possible wages and show no compunction of guilt in cheating the migrants.

This chapter deals with the ideas of birth and death. The dog that the Joads brought along with them gets run over by a speeding car and dies. This is technically the first disruption of the Joad family. The dog's ghastly death worries Rose of Sharon, and she fears the event may have an adverse impact on her unborn baby. Her baby, as revealed in a later chapter, is indeed stillborn, due to the motherís condition of starvation and extreme physical exhaustion. The chapter anticipates later events in other ways as well. When Al grumbles about bringing Casy along when they are already overcrowded, Ma prophesies that before long the preacher will prove his usefulness and will help the family in some way. The truth of Ma's statement is borne out very soon when Casy is prevailed upon to say a few words after Pa is buried. Casy also helps the family when he surrenders himself to the deputies so that Tom may escape.

Casy's character shows development in this chapter. He reveals discerning thoughts, which demand the attention of the Joads. He has great insight in his appraisal of the migrants' situation. Although the gas station attendant is too self-absorbed to recognize the validity of Casy's viewpoint, it leaves a lasting impression on Tom. Casy also shows intuitive insight when he says that Grampa died spiritually the moment he was separated from the land. In his funeral speech, Casy exhibits his sympathy and concern for the living rather than the dead. He says that it does not matter whether Grampa was good or bad, but that he truly lived. Casy's philosophy, with its emphasis on the living, shows an Emersonian bent of mind.


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