Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck2

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck2 - Grapes of Wrath by...

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Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Chapters 1–3 Summary: Chapter 1 The cornfields of Oklahoma shrivel and fade in a long summer drought. Thick clouds of dust fill the skies, and the farmers tie handkerchiefs over their noses and mouths. At night, the dust blocks out the stars and creeps in through cracks in the farmhouses. During the day the farmers have nothing to do but stare dazedly at their dying crops, wondering how their families will survive. Their wives and children watch them in turn, fearful that the disaster will break the men and leave the families destitute. They know that no misfortune will be too great to bear as long as their men remain “whole.” Summary: Chapter 2 Into this desolate country enters Tom Joad, newly released from the McAlester State Penitentiary, where he served four years on a manslaughter conviction. Dressed in a cheap new suit, Tom hitches a ride with a trucker he meets at a roadside restaurant. The trucker’s vehicle carries a “No Riders” sign, but Tom asks the trucker to be a “good guy” even if “some rich bastard makes him carry a sticker.” As they travel down the road, the driver asks Tom about himself, and Tom explains that he is returning to his father’s farm. The driver is surprised that the Joads have not been driven off their property by a “cat,” a large tractor sent by landowners and bankers to force poor farmers off the land. The driver reports that much has changed during Tom’s absence: great numbers of families have been “tractored out” of their small farms. The driver fears that Tom has taken offense at his questions and assures him that he’s not a man to stick his nose in other folks’ business. The loneliness of life on the road, he confides in Tom, can wear a man down. Tom senses the man looking him over, noticing his clothes, and admits that he has just been released from prison. The driver assures Tom that such news does not bother him. Tom laughs, telling the driver that he now has a story to tell “in every joint from here to Texola.” The truck comes to a stop at the road leading to the Joads’ farm, and Tom gets out. Summary: Chapter 3 In the summer heat, a turtle plods across the baking highway. A woman careens her car aside to avoid hitting the turtle, but a young man veers his truck straight at the turtle, trying to run it over. He nicks the edge of the turtle’s shell, flipping it off the highway and onto its back. Legs jerking in the air, the turtle struggles to flip itself back over. Eventually it succeeds and continues trudging on its way. Analysis: Chapters 1–3 The Grapes of Wrath derives its epic scope from the way that Steinbeck uses the story of the Joad family to portray the plight of thousands of Dust Bowl farmers. The structure of the novel reflects this dual commitment: Steinbeck tracks the Joad family with long narrative chapters but alternates these sections with short, lyrical vignettes, capturing the westward movement of migrant farmers in the
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2010 for the course LIT 93840 taught by Professor Unknown during the Spring '10 term at UCSC.

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Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck2 - Grapes of Wrath by...

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