Steinbeck's seminal work set against the bleakest of social landscapes leaves his readers with many a lasting image. In Chapter Nineteen, Steinbeck presents a history of his beloved California, explaining that the Mexicans were "weak and fed" and could not resist the power of the American squatters who took their land. In contrast to the ravaged land of Oklahoma which the Joads have left, California is the Biblical "land of plenty" a cornucopia of crops: lettuce, cauliflower, artichokes, potatoes, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes,tomatoes, beans, and more. Images of the the unrelenting puissance of water are used to describe the migration to California:
And the dispossessed the migrants,flowed into California....And new waves were on the way....
Further in the narrative, set against the fecundity of a rich earth, the Okies drive their old cars into a "rag town" where they live in houses that are
...tents, and weed-thatched enclosures, paper houses, a great junk pile....And when the rain came, the house melted and washed away.
But as the word comes that there was work, the dilapidated cars load again and there would be "a gold rush for work" along the roads where "fields could bear food." While they stay in camps, the migrants plant "secret gardens in the weeds": turnips, carrots, and potatoes,(poor food) planted in the hope that they will not seen. But, one day a deputy sheriff comes to evict them for trespassing.
Thus, in Chapter Nineteen, the imagery contributes to the dichotomy of plenty and want, between the bounty of California with its prolific earth and the Californians, who seek "social success, amusement, luxury, and a curious banking security," and the desperately poor, starving migrants, who seek only work, shelter, food, and food.