The Grapes of Wrath Essential Quotes by Theme: Hope
by John Steinbeck

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Essential Quotes by Theme: Hope

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 4

The preacher nodded his head slowly. “Every kid got a turtle some time or other. Nobody can’t keep a turtle though. They work at it and work at it, and at last one day they get out and away they go—off somewhere. It’s like me. I wouldn’ take the good ol’ gospel that was just layin’ there to my hand. I got to be pickin’ at it an’ workin’ at it until I got it all tore down. Here I got the sperit sometimes an’ nothin’ to preach about. I got the call to lead the people, an’ no place to lead ‘em.”

“Lead ‘em around and around,” said Joad. “Sling ‘em in the irrigation ditch. Tell ‘em they’ll burn in hell if they don’t think like you. What the hell you want to lead ‘em someplace for? Jus’ lead ‘em.” The straight trunk shade had stretched out along the ground. Joad moved gratefully into it and squatted on his hams and made a new smooth place on which to draw his thoughts with a stick.

While going home after serving time in prison, Tom Joad encounters Casy, the preacher that had ministered to the community during Tom’s youth. The two keep each other company and catch up on the passage of time. Tom shares his liquor with Casy, and the men talk about Casy’s preaching days. Although Casy has decided to give up preaching, that has not stopped him from sermonizing. His mind still works out the great truths of the universe, but he has no way to utilize what he has learned. He feels he still has some kind of spiritual call, but he has no place to lead his followers since he has given up his commitment to organized religion in the form of traditional Christianity. Tom, however, encourages him to just lead the people, which is what they really want after all. They want to be pointed in the direction of hope.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 20

Ma asked timidly, “Where we goin’, Tom?”

“Goin’ south,” he said. “We couldn’ let them bastards push us aroun’. We couldn’. Try to get aroun’ the town ‘thout goin’ through it.”

“Yeah, but where we goin’?” Pa spoke for the first time. “That what I want ta know.”

“Gonna look for that gov’ment camp,” Tom said. “A fella said they don’ let no deputies in there. Ma—I got to get away from ‘em. I’m scairt I’ll kill one.”

“Easy, Tom.” Ma soothed him. “Easy, Tommy. You done good once. You can do it again.”

“Yeah, an’ after a while I won’t have no decency lef’.”

“Easy,” she said. “You got to have patience. Why, Tom—us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we’re the people that live. They ain’t gonna wipe us out. Why, we’re the people—we go on.”

“We take a beatin’ all the time.”

“I know.” Ma chuckled. “May that makes us tough. Rich fellas come up an’ they die, an’ their kids ain’t no good, an’ they die out. But, Tom, we keep a-comin’. Don’ you fret none, Tom. A different time’s comin’."

The Joad family has arrived in California, but Granma dies before she can see the beauty, and they are forced to leave her to be buried in a pauper’s grave. Finally finding a camp for migrants, the Joads take possession of one of the tents and settle in. However, it is clear that the migrants are not welcomed by the local people, and Tom fears for his safety if confronted by a deputy. His anger is such against authority that he is afraid that he will kill a policeman. Ma pleads with him to take it easy. She points out that he had been a good man once, and he can be again. She urges him to have patience, because those in authority cannot wipe them out. She says that they are “the people,” and they will survive no matter what. The constant battle only serves to strengthen them. The rich will die off, too weak to stand the struggle. But the poor are “the people,” and they will survive.

Essential Passage 3: Chapter 30

Suddenly the boy cried, “He’s dyin’, I tell you! He’s starvin’ to death, I tell...

(The entire section is 1,666 words.)