The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Chapters 7-11 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Pa Joad: one of many dispossessed “Dust Bowl” farmers who dream of a better life in California

Ma Joad: his strong wife who is devoted to preserving her family

Grampa Joad: the elderly, senile patriarch of the family

Granma Joad: his wife who is a religious fanatic

Noah Joad: the eldest son who moves slowly and says little

Al Joad: the Joad’s teenage son who is good at working on cars

Uncle John: Pa Joad’s brother, a widower

Ruthie and Winfield Joad: Pa and Ma’s youngest children

Rose of Sharon: the Joad’s married and pregnant daughter

Connie: Rose of Sharon’s husband

Summary
Chapter 7
Because there was more profit and demand for used cars and trucks, salesmen were selling them to the dispossessed tenants as quickly as possible. The tenants knew little about cars and the salesmen were able to cheat them on price, interest rates, and quality. They disguised the poor condition of the vehicles in many ways and ignored complaints. They knew the tenants would be driving the vehicles away from the area anyway, so they would get no complaints.

Chapter 8
Muley wakes Tom and Casy before dawn and says he is leaving. Tom and Casy start walking to Uncle John’s house. On the way Tom tells Casy that Uncle John has been rather strange and withdrawn since his wife’s death, which occurred when he ignored her complaints of pain in the night.

As they near the house, Tom sees furniture stacked out in the yard and realizes the family is about to leave. Pa Joad is working on the car and doesn’t recognize Tom at first. When he does, he wants to know if Tom has broken out of prison. Tom tells Pa about being paroled.

Pa says they are about to leave for California and were going to send Tom a letter because Ma was afraid she would never see Tom again. He takes them into the house for breakfast where Ma, busy cooking, pays no attention to Tom or Casy. When she recognizes Tom, she too is concerned that he has broken out of prison. Assured that he has not, she welcomes him warmly and sends Pa to get Grampa and Granma.

She then asks Tom if prison made him mad. She had known “Pretty Boy” Floyd and prison made him “mean mad,” but Tom assures her he is all right. Grampa and Granma race each other from the barn to the house. Noah follows slowly, as he does everything. Grampa and Granma are happy to see Tom. They tell him he should have killed the man but should not have gone to jail for doing it.

At breakfast, Granma insists that Casy, the preacher, say grace. He explains he is not a preacher anymore, but she insists on a prayer. Casy gives a long, rambling recitation of how he went out alone and got to thinking “how we was holy when we was one thing, and mankin’ was holy when it was one thing.”

Pa shows Tom the car that 16-year-old Al, who learned about machinery on a job he had, helped them buy to make the trip. He says Al is not there because he has been “tom-cattin’ hisself to death” for some time. He also tells Tom that Ruthie and Winfield, the two youngest children, have gone with Uncle John to sell some household equipment. Then Al appears and is glad to see Tom, whom he admires and tries to emulate.

Chapter 9
The tenant farmers sorted their possessions to find things to sell. They had to sell to get money for the trip and because there was no room on the trucks to take much with them. Buyers pretended they weren’t interested in buying the things at any price, and the tenants had to sell their farm tools and household furnishings for next to nothing. Discouraged, they went home to tell the women how little they got. The women went through their personal keepsakes to see which of them also had to be disposed of. There was no room on the trucks for items of sentimental value either.

Chapter 10
Ma and Tom have a talk. Ma wonders if California will be as nice as the handbill describing the need for workers there promises. She says she has less faith than she had. Tom reflects that the only way he endured prison life was to...

(The entire section is 2,006 words.)