As he says to Ma, "I'll be all aroun' in the dark, I'll be ever'where- wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there.... I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'- I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build- why I'll be there. See?" Although he admits to sounding much like Casy, Tom is too strong an individual to be a carbon copy of his mentor. We can be sure that Tom will carry on his fight for the people in his own way.
If you've puzzled over Casy's belief that no one has a soul of his own, but that everybody's got a piece of a great big soul, you're not alone. Tom has worked at it, too. And finally, he's come up with a sensible explanation: Casy went into the wilderness to find himself. What he found instead was an understanding that he could not isolate himself from others if his life were to have meaning. In other words, his piece of soul was no good unless it was with the rest and was whole. Casy's- and now Tom's- realization drove him to spend his life being with other people and crusading to bring them together.
Tom has thought deeply about Casy. Ma's response, that Casy "was a good man," suggests his philosophy is all beyond her. "I don' un'erstan'," Ma says. "I don' really know."
Perhaps she doesn't grasp ideas in Tom and Casy's terms, but she certainly does in her own.
In the end, Ma, Tom, and Casy are three of a kind. All give generously of themselves, but each in his or her own way. They embody the novel's main theme and carry Steinbeck's message to his readers.
Soon after Tom takes his leave, the weather changes. Serious storm clouds move in and a damp cold settles on the land. Trying to beat the rain because wet cotton can't be picked, a local cotton farmer puts out a call for as many workers as he can find. The whole family joins in, including Rose of Sharon. In her condition, she shouldn't be out in the fields, but she insists on going. By midday the job is done, but not before brisk winds and rain chill the workers to their bones.
Wet and cold, the Joads retreat to their boxcar and huddle around the wood stove. Rose of Sharon, weak to begin with, has developed a high fever. As the chapter ends, the rain beats steadily on the roof.
© 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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