By chapter 18, Ma is just barely keeping the family together. She has never found much support or guidance from either organized religion or from the law—and that is not likely to change anytime soon.
Granma is sick and will most likely pass away very soon. Although the other family members are quite upset, Ma tries to explain that death is just a natural part of life. At this time, a group of woman "Jehovites" (probably Jehovah's witnesses) approach the Joads's tent to offer to pray for Granma and promise that Granma's:
[...] dear soul is gonna join her Jesus.
Ma is not moved by their words or sentiment and asks them to leave. She says that Granma is much too tired for such a fuss, and we suspect that she feels much the same way. Undeterred, the women go to their own tent and begin a worship meeting there, loudly chanting and praying for Granma's soul.
Once Ma and the others have finally gotten...
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