Even though Grampa appears only briefly in the book, he leaves a lasting impression. He's a spirited old warhorse with a foul mouth, a fiery temper, and a mischievous glint in his eyes. He does nothing in moderation: he drinks too much, eats too much, and talks all the time.
Some of what he says is nonsense, but some makes a great deal of sense. He's proud to be a Joad and overjoyed to see his favorite grandchild Tom out of prison. "They ain't a gonna keep no Joad in jail," he says.
Grampa, as the oldest Joad, is considered the head of the family, even though everyone recognizes that his mind goes haywire sometimes. At family councils, it's his privilege to speak first.
He has boundless enthusiasm for going west: "Jus' let me get out to California where I can pick me an orange when I want it. Or grapes... I'm gonna squash 'em on my face an' let 'em run offen my chin," he says on the day before the journey begins.
But the next morning he states, "I ain't a-goin'." He demands to be left behind in the country where he feels at home. Although he doesn't say it in words, he is tied to the land of his fathers, and to be wrenched away would break him.
The family must take him anyway. They overpower him by spiking his coffee with medicine. But Grampa never recovers from his stupor. He dies the next day and is buried in a roadside grave. After the makeshift funeral, Casy tells the others, "Grampa didn' die tonight. He died the minute you took 'im off the old place."
Grampa and the land were one and the same. Because the Joads have been transformed from farmers to migrants, Grampa had to die. He had no place in a family that settled in a new place every night.
© Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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