What are some good themes or main ideas that are developed in chapters 7 through 11 in The Grapes of Wrath?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Several main ideas and one theme for Chapters 7 through 11 are as follows.

In Chapter 7, the concentration is on selling and purchasing cars and trucks. When the Depression hits, many people are unable to keep their vehicles. The salesmen here are interested in selling vehicles as quickly as possible, without regard to their condition. They basically will cheat anyone to sell their stock, knowing that under the circumstances, many people move on to find work, etc., and probably never return.

Chapter 8 is mostly about Tom's return to the family as they are preparing to leave for California. The family is very happy to see him, but concerned that Tom has escaped from jail; however, he explains that he has been paroled.

Chapter 9 describes how the tenant farmers have been forced to sell their belongings in order to make the trip, and how they are cheated into selling most of what they have for next to nothing. When the men share the news with their wives, the women then look through their mementos to see if they can get more cash.

In Chapter 10, Ma has concerns about the future. Tom suggests they take things day-by-day. Pa is upset because he got so little cash for their belongings. Casy wants to join the family when they leave, and the family agrees. Casy helps Ma kill and prepare two pigs for food on the trip. Muley Graves comes to say goodbye and ask the Joads to take news of him to his family. He cannot leave his land. Granpa says he won't leave either, so the family drugs Granpa, loads him into the truck and leaves.

Chapter 11 describes the changes in the land. With the farmers gone, the land is now cared for by machines and people with no connection to the property. The houses are empty and soulless now that the families have gone, and soon they start to disintegrate as the elements have their way with the deserted homesteads.

One theme seen in these chapters is man vs. society. When the tenant farmers try to sell their belongings to get money, they are cheated. All of the farmers experience the same disappointment and hopelessness as the same practice is exercised against each family.

However, when the Joads choose to take Casy with them, it shows their sense of commitment to community; and as Ma says, they never turn anyone away. It is in this way that individuals can survive, by pulling together as one unit.

Make sure to refer to eNotes summaries of the novel.


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The Grapes of Wrath

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