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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

THE STORY CHAPTER 29

We've come to the last interchapter in the novel. Remember the first one- the coming of the drought? In this chapter we see the gradual inundation of the land. Day after day the rains pour down. The fields turn into lakes. Mud is everywhere. Dampness seeps into your clothes, your tent, into your very pores. It seems as though you'll never be dry again.

As the water rises, migrants flee to the high ground. Some try to build dikes to hold back the water, but the current pushes too hard.

Cars, their wires shorted out, refuse to start. Shivering people with no means of escape crowd into barns. Sickness and disease spread. Babies cry and the old die.

Then comes the worst news of all in this catalog of misery. There won't be any work for three months, till spring. How do you survive for three months?

You can't get relief, for you haven't lived in California for a year. You start to beg for food, even for leftovers and rotting garbage. As a last resort, you steal it.


No wonder the townspeople watch you. They're afraid you'll steal them blind. They hate to see you coming down the street. Soon, fear turns to anger. They call out the sheriff, the deputies, anyone who can smash an Okie with a billy club.

And meanwhile you starve.

Back in Oklahoma when the drought came, the women studied their menfolk hunkering in the dust. Would they break under the strain?

Now the women study their men again. Again, the men hold together. When fearful men gather into groups, fears dissolve and anger takes over. As long as men have the capacity to feel anger, they'll never break.  

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