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The Grapes of Wrath | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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The Grapes of Wrath | Quotes


Women ... knew ... no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole.

Narrator, Chapter 1

The narrator addresses the theme of individual versus community by emphasizing the mutual dependence of family members. Despite the difficulties, the men are not broken. Women draw reassurance in seeing that the men who lead their families are strong and ready to face the challenges that come.


But for your three dollars a day fifteen or twenty families can't eat at all.

Tenant farmer, Chapter 5

The tenant farmer says these words in protest against one of the tractor drivers, the son of another tenant farmer, who explained that he's plowing the land because he is paid three dollars a day, every day, meaning he can feed his family. The statement brings into focus the theme of the individual versus community. The driver may be saving his own family, but looking out just for them harms many other people. Throughout the novel, the narrator shows how people are interrelated and how selfishness can harm others.


Fella gets use' to a place, it's hard to go.

Jim Casy, Chapter 6

Casy emphasizes how difficult it is for the tenant farmers to leave their land because they have formed a strong bond with it. The statement contrasts with the detachment that the bankers and even the tractor drivers have toward the land, established in the previous chapter. It also suggests the difficulties, the rootlessness, the farmers will experience when they are separated from the land.


Somepin's happening ... the houses is all empty, an' the lan' is empty.

Jim Casy, Chapter 10

Casy, speaking for the author, suggests that the large movement of people is significant, something that must be paid attention to, something that cannot be ignored. The simplicity and directness of the statements gives it force.


"'Damn right," said Tom. "I'm bolshevisky."

Tom Joad, Chapter 16

This quotation shows Tom's rebellious nature and his willingness to be viewed as different from the establishment. The term "bolshevisky" refers to a person who practices communism, a doctrine that is hated by the landowners.


The twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all.

Narrator, Chapter 17

The narrator depicts how families can bond together to form one family. During the story, people who are not related by blood help each other when in need, thereby forming a community of humanity.


We're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out ... we go on.

Ma Joad, Chapter 20

Ma Joad uses these words hoping to encourage Tom, emphasizing the strength, fortitude, and unity of common people. She speaks of resilience and toughness. The Joads and the other families like them will endure. Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath to reveal the plight of these people to help them endure.


In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy.

Narrator, Chapter 25

The narrator explains how the suffering that the migrants are dealing with is causing anger to grow within them. This anger will result in strong consequences. The quotation also refers to the novel's title.


Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there.

Tom Joad, Chapter 28

Tom explains how each person is connected to the community of humanity. As a result, one person takes part in the experience of all people.


Use' ta be the fambly was fust. It ain't so now. It's anybody.

Ma Joad, Chapter 30

Ma Joad's first sentence is "It used to be the family was first," spoken in dialect. By that, she means that in the past, people would put their families above all other concerns. "Now," though, "it's anybody." She realizes that when circumstances get very bad for people, they have to help others outside of family to survive. The statement reflects the novel's theme of individual versus community.

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