Illustration of the back a man in a hat and overalls looking towards the farmland

The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

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Chapters 7-11 Summary

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Last Updated May 16, 2023.

Chapter 7
The narrations shifts to that of a used car salesmen, explaining their grift and how they make money. Salesmen were eager to sell used cars and trucks to people who had lost their homes because these vehicles were in high demand and profitable.

The tenant farmers were not knowledgeable about cars, so salesmen took advantage of them by charging them high prices, offering them unfavorable interest rates, and providing them with low-quality vehicles. To cover up the poor condition of the vehicles, salesmen used various tricks and ignored any complaints from the tenants. The salesmen were aware that the tenants would leave the area soon, so they were not concerned about receiving complaints.

Chapter 8
Before sunrise, Muley wakes up Tom and Casy and informs them of his departure. Tom and Casy then set out on foot to Uncle John's residence. While en route, Tom reveals to Casy that Uncle John has been behaving oddly and keeping to himself since the passing of his wife. This was because he disregarded her complaints of agony during the night.

As Tom and his companions approach the house, he notices that the family is preparing to leave as furniture is piled up in the yard. While Pa Joad is busy working on the car, he fails to recognize Tom at first. However, after recognizing him, he inquires whether Tom has escaped from prison. Tom proceeds to inform Pa about his parole.

Pa has informed Tom that they are planning to leave for California and had intended to send him a letter because Ma was worried that she might never see Tom again. However, Pa invites Tom inside for breakfast, but Ma is preoccupied with cooking and initially doesn't notice Tom or Casy. When Ma finally recognizes Tom, she becomes anxious that he might have escaped from prison. After confirming that he hasn't, Ma warmly welcomes him and asks Pa to fetch Grampa and Granma.

Afterwards, she inquires of Tom whether prison had driven him insane. She had encountered the mother of a man named "Purty Boy" Floyd before, and prison had caused him to become exceedingly angry. However, Tom reassures her that he is fine, because "I let stuff run off’n me."

Grampa and Granma engage in a race from the barn to the house, while Noah lags behind as usual. Upon seeing Tom, Grampa and Granma express their delight and suggest that although Tom should have eliminated the man, he should not have been incarcerated for doing so.

During breakfast, Granma asks Casy, who used to be a preacher, to say a prayer. Although he tells her he's not a preacher anymore, she insists. Casy then proceeds to give a lengthy and unfocused speech about how he went out by himself and began contemplating the idea of holiness and how humanity used to be unified.

Pa displays the car to Tom, which was bought with the assistance of Tom's 16-year-old brother, named Al. Al gained knowledge about machinery from a previous job. Pa mentions that Al is absent because he has been busy.

Pa also informs Tom that the two youngest children, Ruthie and Winfield, have left with Uncle John to sell some household equipment. Later on, Al arrives and expresses his pleasure in seeing Tom. Al looks up to Tom and strives to imitate him.

Chapter 9
The farmers who were renting the land went through their belongings in order to identify items that they could possibly sell. They needed to sell their possessions to raise money for their journey, as there was limited space available on the trucks to carry all of their belongings. When potential buyers arrived, they acted uninterested in purchasing the items, causing the tenants to sell their household items and farming tools at a very low price.

Feeling disheartened, they returned home and informed the women about the meager payment they received. The women then searched through their own cherished possessions to identify which ones they too had to let go of. Unfortunately, there was no space on the trucks to accommodate sentimental items either.

Chapter 10
Ma and Tom converse with each other, where Ma expresses her doubts about whether California will be as good as advertised in the handbill that promises employment opportunities. She admits that she has less confidence in the situation now.

On the other hand, Tom shares his experience of surviving in prison by focusing on the present and not worrying about the future. He informs Ma about the poor working and living conditions of farm workers in California, but Ma still believes in the promises mentioned in the handbill. Later, Grampa talks extensively about the tasty grapes that he will get to eat in California.

Jim Casy inquires if he can accompany the Joads, and Ma responds that she thinks he is invited, but the decision ultimately lies with the male members of the family. Casy expresses that he has no intention of preaching anymore and only desires to be in the company of others. He believes that merely being around people holds a sense of sanctity.

Jim Casy asks if he can join the Joads on their journey, and Ma says she thinks he is welcome, but the final decision rests with the male members of the family. Casy explains that he no longer wants to preach and simply wishes to be in the company of others. He feels that being around people is sacred in itself.

During an evening family meeting, Al mentions the positive aspects of the car he picked while Tom inquires about bringing Casy along. Pa raises concerns about having enough space and food for an additional person, but Ma reminds him that they have never refused anyone before and having one more person won't significantly impact them. After some discussion, they agree to invite Casy to join them.

The group came to a decision to slaughter a couple of pigs for their upcoming journey and to work throughout the night to be able to start their journey early the following day. Although Ma objected, Casy insisted that he would preserve the pig meat with salt, as there was too much work to divide it into tasks based on gender. This prompted Ma to sort through her personal belongings, keeping only a few items and setting fire to the rest.

Muley Graves visits to bid farewell and requests the Joads to assure his family that he is safe. Although the Joads offer to take him along, he declines since he cannot abandon the land he is familiar with. Grampa also declines to leave and chooses to stay where he belongs, like Muley. The Joads realize they cannot abandon Grampa, but they fear he will harm himself if they force him to leave. Therefore, they give him a large dose of sedatives, place him in the truck, and depart while he remains soundly asleep. They also give Muley the remaining chickens they have.

Chapter 11
The tenant farmers' former homes were unoccupied, and in the absence of people, the land was also uninhabited. The individuals who had cared for the land were substituted by inanimate machines and synthetic fertilizers. The men who presently plowed and fertilized were strangers to the land, who lacked comprehension of the connection between humans and the land. Desolate, the homes lost their identity as dwellings, and instead were consumed by animals and overgrown with weeds, eventually succumbing to the harsh forces of nature.

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