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The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

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How does Tom's line, "I'm still layin' my dogs down one at a time," in chapter 16 reflect the migrants' attitude in The Grapes of Wrath?

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Tom makes this comment to Jim Casy after Casy says, "...s'pose they can't get no jobs out there?"  This is also after the Joad's car breaks down on the road to California and Ma has told Tom emphatically, that the family will stay together, despite Tom's suggestion that some proceed on toward California with the Wilson's while a couple of them stay behind to get the car fixed.  Things aren't going well for the Joads on this trip.  They are seeing that there are so many just like themselves headed in the same direction and that people aren't treating them very nicely along the way.  They are hearing that the situation in California isn't great because of the great number of migrants there and the very low wages. The outlook is not as hopeful and positive as it was when the group began the journey and they lost Grandpa before they even got out of Oklahoma.  Now the car has broken a connecting rod.  Tom's comment says that despite all these setbacks and gloomy forecasts, he's persevering - he's still laying one foot down in front of the other, moving toward a goal.  Steinbeck saw the migrant people as this type of people - not the sort to curl up and quit in the face of adversity, but the sort to keep on going.  They were a hardy bunch who, when things got difficult and the going was rough, just tried harder to keep going.

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