The Grapes of Wrath: Chapters 8, 16, 30

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The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 8: Meeting the Joads


Tom and Casy make their way to Uncle John’s and meet Tom’s family. They encounter Pa, Ma, Grampa, Granma, Noah, and Al. At breakfast, Pa tells Tom that his two younger siblings Ruthie and Winfield, his other sister Rose of Sharon, and Connie, Rose of Sharon’s husband, are in town with Uncle John.

“‘But when they’re all working together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang—that’s right, that’s holy’” (Steinbeck 84-85). Casy states this quote as the grace before breakfast. Casy explains that when people work together, it’s the right thing, or in his words, “holy.” This quote develops one of the few themes seen throughout the novel, that the power of family and working together. Chapter eight is the first chapter where the Joad family is together, with some exceptions such as Uncle John, Rose of Sharon, etc. So the quote falls in the idea of the chapter, family. The whole family plans to travel together to California and work as a family.

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Ma Joad: “‘Tommy, don’t you go fightin’ ‘em alone. They’ll hunt you down like a coyote’” (Steinbeck 79). In this quote, she makes sure that no person goes alone and her care for her family shows in this chapter. She worries about Tom when she sees him and worries that he may have gotten hurt. The word “alone” is the opposite of her character and her purpose in the novel. Throughout the novel, Ma Joad is determined about keeping her family together in their journey to California. Even through hard circumstances, such as Granma’s death, she makes sure that her family is strong enough to push through.


Rose of Sharon’s pregnancy is a striking symbol in chapter eight. Even though it is not very explained thoroughly in the chapter or physically shown,

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