How does the quote "That's a daisy, that's a daisy, 'over an' over. An' her so proud she bust three cups that night" relate to the narrative of The Grapes of Wrath?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quotation is extracted from Chapter Six of The Grapes of Wrath, an expository chapter in which the metaphor of the tenacious turtle who is determined upon a path is reiterated as well as the important them of family.  In this chapter, Muley has yet remained behind on his land, having refused to migrate with the others; even his wife and children have gone.  After hunting for food, he climbs the hill near the Joad place only to be discovered by Tom Joad and the preacher Jim Casy.  Tom is extremely relieved to see Muley as he has been anxious after finding that his family is gone.  Muley explains that the dust storms have come to the land causing the cotton crops to be scanty. So, the landowners have decided that the small margin of profit is not enought for them to continue supporting sharecroppers on their lands.  Consequently, they have sold out to banks and the sharecroppers have loaded their meager belongings into trucks and headed to California where they hope to find work.

Offering to share his game with the other men, Muley welcomes the chance to talk to someone. He speaks of the land on which his father died from being gored to death by a bull; he has gone to the place where his father's blood was spilled into the dirt:

"I put my han' right on the groun' where that blood is still....An' I went in the room where Joe was born....An' all them things is true, an' they're right in the place they happened.  Joe come to life right there....his granma standin' there says, 'That's a daisy...."

Joe's grandmother is "so proud" because there is a male child born to carry the family name. But, now, the bankers have, Muley says, "chopped folks in two for their margin a profit. Place where folks live is them folks."  Each person is a daisy in the ground, as Granma has said.  But, Muley notes. "They ain't whole, out lonely on the road in a piled-up car.  They ain't alive no more...."

Tom obviously concurs with Muley that a part of people's lives are lost along with the land when they must leave it because he tells Muley that he should have gone with his family. "You shouldn't of broke up the family." Throughout Steinbeck's novel, the motif of family prevails.  While Pa Joad loses hope, Ma refuses to break up the family, believing in the strength of their unity. She feels strongly that there is a wholeness that comes from family.

Read the study guide:
The Grapes of Wrath

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