Why is Tom impatient with the fat gas station attendant in Chapter 13 of The Grapes of Wrath? 

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The fat gas station attendant repeatedly asks a question, "What are we coming to?" 

When Casy presents an earnest answer suggesting that people are being pushed west by necessity; away from their homes out of a vague but desperate desire to improve on what they have got and the lives that they have known, the gas station attendant's reponse is to simply repeat his question. "What are we coming to?"

This frustrates Tom, who thinks that the man is challenging the innocent people doing what they feel they must with a question that undermines their dignity but which is also clearly an empty question.