From Chapter 12-16 of The Grapes of Wrath, when the Wilson's car breaks down again, why doesn't Ma want the truck to go on ahead?I am from Germany, so it is a little bit difficult to understand the...

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

Posted on

John Steinbeck's magnum opus The Grapes of Wrath, chronicles the travails of the Joad family, a family representative of the many dispossessed sharecroppers of Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression.  As they traverse U.S. Route 66, a highway that extends from coast to coast, the Joads stop to buy gas and obtain water.  As sunset begins, Tom suggests that they stop for the evening; when they spot a car on the side of the road, they ask the Wilsons, who own this car, if they may park near them.  Mr. Wilson replies that he and his wife have stopped there only because they cannot go any farther.

After politenesses are exchanged, the Joads discover that Grampa is sick; in fact, he dies of a stroke.  "The family became a unit" and move to quietly stand with Ma as they thank the Wilsons for allowing Grampa lie down in the tent.  Mrs. Wilson, who has wrapped Grampa in her quilt tells the Joads not to worry; she was glad to help them despite the fact that she is in extreme pain herself.  Then, when Tom and Al here that the Wilson's have been delayed in their journey by constant car trouble, they offer to fix the car and suggest that the weight of baggage be distributed evenly between the two vehicles.  When the Wilsons do not want to be "a burden," Ma replies,

"You won't be no burden.  Each'll help each, an' we'll all git to California.  Sairy Wilson he'ped [helped] lay Grampa out [bury him]...."

Steinbeck writes, "The relationship was plain."  Clearly, this episode illustrates John Steinbeck's theme of the independent but cooperative initiative of people.  His philosophy of the brotherhood of man is very apparent in this passage as together the disenfranchised can make life better for each other, offering support and sharing in the burdens.





We’ve answered 327,499 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question