Grapes of Wrath Chapter 13


Jump to: navigation, search

English 11 The Grapes of Wrath Group Project. We had Chapter 13.


Theme Outline

  1. Hittin’ the road
    1. Unknown: The families have been thrown off their land and are heading into the unknown
      1. Ma says that she will deal with life one day at a time. (158)
      2. The families are wondering how much work there will actually be for them in California as they see many other families heading to California and hear stories that some may have been turned away.
  2. At the Gas Station
    1. Mistrust: The gas station attendants and the lunch counter attendants (other chapter) do not trust the families since many of them have run out of money.
    2. Humility: The Joads do not want to take any charity handouts. Also the gas station attendant makes "relief" to be a bad thing.
    3. Uncertainty: The attendant repeatedly asks "What is this country coming to?" (175) Also Rose of Sharron is uncertain about her pregnancy.
  3. Road Kill
    1. Disposability: When the dog dies, the man says "I had three dogs run over in a year" (167). Like the farmers who only have each other to look out for them, no one would care what happens to the farmers.
  4. The Wilsons and Grandpa’s Death
    1. Shared Humanity: The Wilsons and the Joads team up in order to travel hundreds of miles filled with unknowns.
    2. Praying: "I don’t know what to pray for or who to pray to" (Casy 175). This further reflects the uncertainty and desperation in people’s lives as they are starting to questions their faiths.
    3. Shock: Grandpa suddenly dies on the side of the road. The dog also dies in an instant. The uncertainty even extends to living.
    4. Through Death Life Goes On: Life in general goes on, on Route 66 as if no one had died.


The characters seem to fall into 2 broad categories: hardworking people whose livelihoods are behind replaced and the rich money-hungry "monsters" who are taking advantage of the farmers. Both the Gas Station Attendant as well as the Wilsons are honest, hardworking, helpful, very similar to the Joads, and dislike taking charity.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Steinbeck make such a strongly generalize the characters into 2 strong types: hardworking and poor vs money hungry and greedy? Do you think this is accurate?
  2. Why does Steinbeck include the dog dying? How does the reaction to the death differ between the adults and the children?
  3. Were you sad to see Grandpa die?


  1. truculence (noun): a disposition to fight, especially fiercely. Pg 171
  2. derrick (noun): a framework erected over an oil well to allow drill tubes to be raised and lowered Pg 180
  3. culvert (noun): a drain or channel crossing under a road, sidewalk, etc. pg 182
  4. timbre (noun): the characteristic quality of sound produced by a particular instrument or voice. Pg 183
  5. wizened (adjective): withered; shriveled. Pg 183

Multiple Choice

  1. After Al questioned if it was a good idea to take the preacher along, who defended taking the preacher?
    1. Granma
    2. Ma
    3. Pa
    4. Noah
    5. Tom
  2. Where are the Wilsons from?
    1. Massachusetts
    2. Kansas
    3. Oklahoma
    4. Nebraska
    5. Texas
  3. Why did Casy not want to pray?
    1. He is not a preacher
    2. He doesn’t know what to pray for and who to pray to
    3. He doesn’t feel like it
    4. He does not like granpa
    5. He ended up saying a prayer
  4. How did Granpa die?
    1. Stroke
    2. Hit by a Car
    3. Exhaustion
    4. Home Sickness
    5. Wildlife attack

My Analysis: Uncertainty

As the Joads set out West they face many uncertainties. Farming is all that they have ever known; as farmers they never traveled far form the dusty fields of Oklahoma. However, when they are thrown off of their land they have no clue where to go or how they will make a living. The Joads and many of the other displaced farmers choose to try and find work in California. Grandpa states in Chapter 10 that he will fill his mouth with grapes when the family arrives in California. Others plan to live in a white house in the middle of orchard fields. However, they hear contradicting stories from other travelers that the authorities in California were turning people away. In addition, they meet other families who have the same handbill asking for 800 workers. They express uncertainty that California may not be as nice as the handbill promises. However they choose to jump head first into uncertainty.

As they drive along Route 66, the Joads also face uncertainty. They do not how long their money will last them. They also do not know if their car will break, so they listen closely to the noises it makes. Families are uncertain about where and when to buy replacement car parts; many of the service stations are charging extortionate prices for broken parts. The gas station attendant shares his own uncertainties with the future of his store as well as the future of the country. The death of the dog shows that any member of the party may be stuck dead at anytime. Death also strikes again later in the chapter, when Grandpa dies.

Ma deals with the uncertainty, when asked on page 158, by replying that she lives moment by moment. She does not try to plan ahead; instead she reacts to problems when they come up. This is both admirable and problematic. She does not state that she is worrying about her family or their future in California. However, not planning could be problematic if they run into trouble down the road. Ma is also scared for Tom’s future. Under the terms of Tom’s parole, Tom is not allowed to leave the state. However, be following his family to California, Tom is breaking the law. Tom and his family do not what trouble lies ahead for them as they travel into an uncertain world.