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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

THE STORY CHAPTER 4

Out of the truck, Tom removes his shoes. What a joy it is to feel the land under his feet again! As he walks barefoot toward home, he spies a land turtle in the dust and wraps it up in his jacket- a gift for his kid brother. Possibly this is the same turtle we met in the previous chapter.

Later, after Tom meets Jim Casy, the turtle tries to escape. Casy's comment reveals still another quality of turtles: they can't be penned in; they always run off.

Casy compares himself to a turtle. He, too, has "escaped," for he has given up being a preacher. The spirit and "the heart ain't in it," he tells Tom. In former days he howled out the name of Jesus and delighted in baptizing and bringing God to the people. His sermons aroused folks against sin. He aroused himself, too, but in another way. For after his preaching he would grab any willing girl and lay her down in the grass. Is it any wonder he began to feel like a hypocrite? Taking stock of his life, he finally decided that the old-time religion no longer suited him.

Does Casy sound like a philosopher? Although his language is crude, his ideas show that he is a thinker. He's been thinking particularly about his own faith. To Casy, the "Holy Sperit" now means love. Not love of God, however, but love of people. "Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus?" he asks, "maybe it's all men an' all women..., maybe all men got one big soul everbody's a part of."


What can we make of Casy's words? Tom is a bit embarrassed by them. He's not used to such naked truth. We might conclude that Casy, like Tom, has been released from prison, a prison of fundamentalist religion. But what of that? Again, we probably have to wait until we've read more of the book to understand fully what Casy means.

In contrast, Tom is more interested in down-to-earth matters. He wants to go home to his family, whom he hasn't seen for four years since he was imprisoned for killing a man in a drunken brawl at a dance. As the two men walk along, Tom tells Casy (and the reader, too) a little about his Pa and Ma and other members of the Joad family. When they reach the crest of the hill overlooking the Joad's farm, Tom stops in disbelief. His home has been abandoned.  

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