Illustration of the back a man in a hat and overalls looking towards the farmland

The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 12 is a intercalary chapter. What are some shared experiences of all the strangers travelling west?

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Chapter 12 represents another break in the main narrative of the travels of the Joad family, this time focussing on the wider lot of the tenant farmers and describing the queues of traffic on Highway 66 and all the cars that are creeping towards California. The narrator allows us to see the cares and worries of farmers in general: they are concerned about their vehicles and the dangers of the journey. When they stop to buy parts for their cars, they are cheated mercilessly, and they struggle to go from service station to service station. They are met with hostility and suspicion, questioned about their motives for moving, and people state their view that they should go back where they came from. However, Chapter 12 also offers us rare instances of hope, for example with the family who have only a trailer and wait by the road. They make it to California in two jumps, offering a feeble ray of hope in the goodness of humankind that is in sharp contrast with the car salesman that exploit the position of the tenant farmers and the other people who wish that they would go home. This incident of goodness proves that "strange things happen... some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that faith is refired forever."

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