Earlier in the day, Al pulls the Hudson into a filling station. The owner is hostile to the Joads. They aren't welcome unless they can buy gas. "Think we're beggin'?" says Al, pulling out his money. The fat owner quickly changes his attitude and nervously explains his suspicions. People "come in, use water, dirty up the toilet, an' then, by God, they'll steal stuff an' don't buy nothin'." The sweat-soaked fat man has no sympathy for the hordes of people going west. They puzzle him. "What they gonna do?" he asks. "I don't know what the country's comin' to."
Casy, ever willing to extend himself, tries to explain what, in fact, the country's comin' to: "People moving... 'cause they want somepin better'n what they got. An' that's the on'y way they'll ever git it." The man doesn't listen. He takes up his lament again: "I don't know what the country's comin' to."
Irritated, Tom tells off the fat man. "You ain't askin' nothin'; you're jus' singin' a kinda song." He scolds the man for doing nothing to improve his own lot. "Country's movin' aroun', goin' places. They's folks dyin' all aroun'. Maybe you'll die pretty soon, but you won't know nothin'."
Neither Tom nor Casy has anything to gain from trying to set the fat man straight. Why do they bother, then? Maybe each believes that life can be better, but only if you make it so. If you don't keep trying, you're licked. What bestows meaning on life is the effort you put into it. In short, Tom and Casy are trying to save the fat man from himself. They're crusaders, especially Casy, who says, "Here's me that used to give all my fight against the devil.... But they's sompin' worse'n the devil got hold a the country, an' it ain't gonna let go till it's chopped loose." Exactly what Casy thinks has snared the country is hard to tell at this point, but he gives the impression that he's going after it with the same fervor he once used to chase sinners.
Before he can devote himself entirely to his new cause, however, Casy has one more duty to perform in the old way. Realizing that her husband is dying, Granma insists that Casy say a proper prayer. Casy recites the Twenty-third Psalm. It seems that Casy won't be free to pursue his new religion of the people until the old generation is dead and buried.
Grampa's burial becomes a practical problem. What should be done with the body? The law says report the death and pay the undertaker forty dollars. But if your entire family fortune is less than two-hundred dollars, you may look for another way. They decide to bury Grampa on their own. In case the authorities find the grave, they will include a note in a bottle explaining the circumstances of the death and burial.
A time of grief often knits people together. As Grampa lays dying in the Wilsons' tent, the Joads and Wilsons, strangers that morning, become neighbors in the afternoon, and friends in the evening. Before the night is over, the two families will unite, for each can gain from being with the other. Al will fix the Wilsons' car. Some of the Joads will ride in it, lightening the load on the Hudson.
© Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc. Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
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