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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

THE STORY CHAPTER 11

What happens to land when it is left vacant? What happens to empty houses? What happens to the vitality of a place when the people leave and machines take over?

This interchapter draws an analogy between abandoned farmland and death. When people occupy the land and the day's work is done, the heat and smell of life remain. When the tractor driver turns off his machine and goes home to town, a corpse is left behind.


Forsaken houses fall prey to the wind and wild things. Little boys hurl stones through the windows. Paint flakes off, and wind tears away the shingles. Bats and mice take up residency. Weeds spring up where they had never grown before.

NOTE: This grim portrait of the dead land brings us to a juncture in the novel. We've seen the conditions that forced the farmers out of their homes. Now we'll see what these new migrants face along the road.  

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