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The Grapes of Wrath | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Summer day

    Tom Joad and Jim Casy arrive at Uncle John's house

    Chapter 8
  • Next day

    The Joads and Casy leave Oklahoma for California.

    Chapter 10
  • Later same day

    Grampa dies.

    Chapter 13
  • Some time later

    Tom and Casy assault deputy to defend other migrants; Casy takes blame, is arrested.

    Chapter 20
  • A few days later

    The Joads reach Weedpatch camp in California and begin to look for work.

    Chapter 22
  • A month later

    The Joads leave Weedpatch and find work at ranch. Casy is killed. Tom kills officer.

    Chapter 26
  • Two days later

    The Joads leave ranch to work at a cotton farm. Tom hides out.

    Chapter 26
  • Weeks later

    The Joads pick cotton. Tom leaves the family.

    Chapter 28
  • Days later

    Rainstorm floods the camp. Rose of Sharon gives birth to stillborn. The Joads leave camp.

    Chapter 30

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 In this chapter, the narrator describes the erosion of the land that led to the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. This process begi... Read More
Chapter 2 In Chapter 2, Steinbeck introduces the main character. Tom Joad walks to a roadside restaurant and notices a "No Riders"... Read More
Chapter 3 Chapter 3 begins by describing how seeds are waiting in dry land to be attached to something moving, such as a man's tro... Read More
Chapter 4 In Chapter 4, Steinbeck introduces a major supporting character: the ex-preacher Jim Casy. As Tom walks down a dusty roa... Read More
Chapter 5 Steinbeck describes the landowners driving in their cars onto the tenants' farms. Tenant families, such as the Joads, wa... Read More
Chapter 6 Tom and Casy stand on a hill and look down at the Joad house. It shows many signs of being abandoned, such as the house ... Read More
Chapter 7 Steinbeck describes how used-car dealers sell cars through the point of view of a head salesman. The salesman wants his ... Read More
Chapter 8 Tom and Casy walk down a dusty road in the early morning light toward Uncle John's home. Tom discusses a tragic event th... Read More
Chapter 9 The tenant families, such as the Joads, look through their belongings to find things to sell and get money for the journ... Read More
Chapter 10 In Uncle John's kitchen, Tom talks with Ma about California. Ma doubts California is a land of plenty, saying she fears ... Read More
Chapter 11 After families like the Joads leave, their houses and land are left vacant. Tractors work the land, and the machines are... Read More
Chapter 12 "Highway 66 is the main migrant road," the narrator begins, elaborating that "66 is the mother road, the road of flight.... Read More
Chapter 13 The Joads ride in their truck through Oklahoma from Sallisaw to Castle. As Al drives, he almost becomes one with truck a... Read More
Chapter 14 The West is apprehensive of change. The wealthy landowners are concerned because they sense this change. However, the ow... Read More
Chapter 15 Along Highway 66, plenty of eateries are found filled with nickel phonographs, flashy ads, pies, oranges, and cold cerea... Read More
Chapter 16 The Joad and Wilson families travel across the Texas Panhandle and into New Mexico, where "the land rolled like great st... Read More
Chapter 17 The cars of the migrant people, such as the Joads, drive along the main highway. During the night, the cars cluster toge... Read More
Chapter 18 The Joad and Wilson families move westward through the mountains of New Mexico and the dry, rocky country of Arizona. Th... Read More
Chapter 19 When California belonged to Mexico, Americans wanted land in the region and stole it from the Mexicans. Now the descenda... Read More
Chapter 20 The Joads arrange with a coroner to have Granma buried. They are ashamed about not being able to have a proper funeral, ... Read More
Chapter 21 The main highways are flooded with migrants like the Joads. Once simple agrarian folk, these people change when they bec... Read More
Chapter 22 During the night, Tom drives the Joad truck into the government camp, which is called the Weedpatch. The watchman tells ... Read More
Chapter 23 The migrant people hunger for amusement. In the camps along the road, they gather around storytellers, who weave heartfe... Read More
Chapter 24 On Saturday morning at the Weedpatch, the community prepares for the party. Everyone bathes and puts on their best cloth... Read More
Chapter 25 The spring in California is beautiful and fruitful. "Petals drops from fruit trees. ... The centers of the blossoms swel... Read More
Chapter 26 At the Weedpatch camp, Ma leads a family meeting in which family members talk about the lack of work and running out of ... Read More
Chapter 27 Placards and handbills advertise for cotton pickers. Workers like the Joads must buy a bag for a dollar to put the picke... Read More
Chapter 28 Some cotton pickers in California live in boxcars, with two families in each car. The Joads live in one end of a boxcar.... Read More
Chapter 29 The gray clouds march in and settle low, and then the rain comes. At first, the dry earth absorbs the moisture, but then... Read More
Chapter 30 A rainstorm hits the boxcar camp and continues for three days. The Joads and Wainwrights argue about whether to move awa... Read More
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