Chapters 22-26 Summary and Analysis
Jim Rawley: the manager of a camp where the migrants govern themselves and living conditions are much better
Ezra Huston: a migrant who heads the Central Committee, the group of people who regulate conduct in the camp
The Joads go to a camp provided for the migrants by the Federal government where there is one vacant spot they can occupy. Tom learns that cops can’t come into this camp unless there is major trouble or they have a warrant, and the migrants elect their own police and make their own laws.
The next morning Tom meets the Wallaces. They invite him to breakfast and offer to take him to a farm where they have found work digging ditches. The farmer, his land mortgaged, has to pay less than he has been paying or be in trouble with the Farmer’s Association and the bank who dictate the wages he pays. Being sympathetic to the Okies, he secretly warns them some people will start trouble at the camp dance on Saturday to give the deputies an excuse to enter and break up the camp. The landowners fear the migrants are getting used to being treated too well in the camp and will be harder to control when they move to other camps run by the owners.
Ma is delighted with the running water and wash tubs, showers, and toilets and is happy to be able to clean up to meet the Ladies Committee for the Joad’s section of the camp. She talks with Jim Rawley, the camp manager, and realizes he and the inhabitants of the camp are her kind of good people. Ma and Rose of Sharon meet the committee and learn the camp’s routines and rules and how the really destitute can get food on credit until work is found.
Pa, Al, and Uncle John go looking for work, but all they find are signs saying, “No Help Wanted. No Trespassing.” Another man from the camp tells them he has searched for a week without finding work. Pa is depressed but Ma is optimistic because Tom found work and says something will turn up if he looks further.
The migrants searched frantically for some kind of work, scraped and scrabbled to live, and found what pleasure they could in humble activities. They created pleasures with what little they had: their remaining sense of humor, tales of earlier days or their ancestors, and musical instruments they had brought along. Some would spend a part of their little money to see a movie and then entertain the others telling about it. With a little money some would seek escape in drink and dreams of pleasant experiences. Others found pleasure in having a preacher tell them they were cleansed of sin, while wishing they knew what sins they could do.
Preparations for the dance start early on Saturday. Ezra Huston, the head of the Central Committee, says he has added extra people to the committee to quietly stop any trouble. The migrants are mystified as to why the landowners want to destroy the camp. Tom is told to stay at the main gate with another man to check arriving guests and keep troublemakers out. Three men who say a Mr. Jackson invited them arouse suspicion. Jackson says he had worked with them at a farm but did not invite them to the dance. The committee watches the three and waits. Things go well until one of the three insists on dancing with someone else’s girl. The committee quietly surrounds and moves the trio off the dance floor. But somewhere someone has blown a whistle and a carload of deputies drive up and demand entrance because they hear a riot inside. When all they can hear is quiet music they leave but wait nearby.
Huston doesn’t understand why some migrants are turning against their own people. One says “a fella gotta eat” but will say no more about who sent them nor admit to being paid. They are put over the back fence without being harmed and with a warning that anybody attempting such a thing again will be severely beaten.
Later that night, another migrant tells of some mountain people hired as cheap labor who organized when the local townspeople bought guns and...
(The entire section is 2,440 words.)