In Chapter 26 of "The Grapes of Wrath"' how is the theme of fellowship extended in the activities of Tom and Al in the car?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Several elements of the theme of fellowship are extended between Tom and Al in this chapter.  Among these are humor, sharing, and empathy.

Al is in a bad mood when the family sets off.  Like the rest, he is frustrated at their lack of financial prospects, and he has also had to leave behind a girl of whom he had become fond.  Tom, using humor, engages in good-natured teasing of his brother, "chuckl(ing)" as he razzes him about letting the battery run down, and "grin(ning)" as he badgers him about his activities with the girl.  Tom is sensitive to Al's feelings in his teasing, however, and is careful not to go too far, and "Al (comes) slowly out of his sullenness".

A large part of the conversation in which Tom and Al engage concerns a sharing of their dreams.  Tom wishes for coffee and perhaps a little tobacco, and Al longs to get a job in a garage and eat in restaurants.  Tom and Al also work together with unthinking synchronization, sharing the job of fixing the tire fairly and efficiently.

Al and Tom have a natural empathy for each other.  When Tom wants to talk about his bad experiences in jail and a gentle man he knew who was driven to suicide, Ma tells him not to think about it.  Al, however, understanding that if Tom "shut(s) it out...it'll whang back at (him)", urges him to "go on...(and) tell about the fella" (Chapter 26).

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The Grapes of Wrath

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