The Grapes of Wrath


Chapters 26 - 30

Chapter 26 Summary

The Joads have been at the Weedpatch camp for a month. Even though it is the best camp they have found, there is not enough work available to keep the family fed. Ma is particularly worried because Winfield is becoming malnourished, and Rose of Sharon does not look healthy in her pregnancy. Ma demands that Pa figure something out and chastises him sharply for acting discouraged. After Pa storms away in anger, Ma proudly tells Tom, “He’s all right. He ain’t beat.” Ma explains that a man “can get worried... an’ it eats out his liver, an’ purty soon he’ll just lay down and die with his heart et out. But if you can take and make ’im mad, why, he’ll be awright.”

The Joads decide to leave Weedpatch in search of work. Stopping on the road to change a tire, they receive word of peach-picking work nearby. At the large peach farm, angry workers on strike shout at the incoming cars. The Joads are directed to a campsite—a dirty shack that has obviously been recently vacated—and put to work picking peaches for five cents a box. They are not paid at all for a box of peaches if any of the fruit is bruised, as Tom discovers to his chagrin. The work is therefore time-consuming and must be done with care. After working all day, the family comes up with just enough money to buy food for dinner at the overpriced camp store. When Ma protests over the high prices, the grocery store employee tells her that she can drive into town for fair prices—but they will only lose more money in paying for the gas to get there. In a sudden gesture of kindness, the shop assistant agrees to pay for Ma’s sugar on credit.

After dinner, Tom decides to look around and figure out what is going on with the striking workers. Guards prevent him from leaving through the front gate, and he is forced to crawl under a fence to get out. He soon walks by a tent with a couple of men inside, one of whom is Jim Casy. Casy explains that, during his stint in prison, he decided that he...

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