Alriiiiight, section 2! Let’s kinda go over what’s happened…
Chapter 12 – Descriptions of all the state routes and stuff was kinda boring… but for real, I cannot even imagine how nervous they must be. I have a good 2002 car, and AAA, and you know, a job, and I still get really worried about breaking down on any drive longer than an hour. So driving like 2000 miles away without all that must SUCK.
Chapter 13 – Grampa croaks.
I was disappointed, instead of sad. Grampa and Granma seemed so feisty and fun, so I was looking forward to seeing more of them on the journey. But nope, Grampa dies right away. And so instead of being sad, I was like “Well hey, that’s probably for the best… old people slow ya down.”
Yeah, I’m a mean person. But losing people along the way KIND of helps, cause less mouths to feed and less weight on the truck, etc. I do think teaming up with the Wilsons was a good idea, though I expected Sairy to pass on next.
Chapter 14 – Sooooo… I actually had to go online and read the Sparknotes and Cliff’s Notes for this chapter, because I wanted to make sure I was understanding stuff right. But basically the government, banks, and/or Cali are getting nervous that these tons of displaced and angry people are going to band together and try to start some sort of uprising, and that’s why the Western states are being assholes to the people migrating West. And when I got to the part about Lenin and Marx and other notables being results of angry, poor people, I looked Steinbeck up again and I didn’t really realize before that he was so communist-y. And while I don’t think capitalism is great, I think communism is stupid. As an ideal it sounds fantastic, but there’s a reason communism has never been successful on a national level, and that’s because there will always be greedy people – people who are lazy, who are out for themselves, who will always try to have more than everyone else. So, I guess I like that Steinbeck is all sympathetic to the poor people, and farmers, and so on, but I don’t think he’s supporting the right solution to those problems. He’s a bit… idealistic? hippie-ish? for my tastes.
Chapter 15 – The diner scene. Ehh. It was a nice change of perspective, but I could have done without this chapter. I’m glad Mae ended up being nice to that guy and his kids though.
Chapter 16 – So, Ma is THE BEST.
I love that she was totally ready to cave in some heads to try to keep the family together. Good for her! Also, the preacher kind of tries to point out that hey, there’s a shit-ton of people heading the same way we are, so what if all the jobs are gone… and he just ignored. Though he raises a very valid point! When you think about it, the Joads are… kind of dumb. I know they’re supposed to be just simple farm folk, but come on, they really didn’t approach this thing with common sense. They took the advice of the same men that kicked them off their land, and headed to California. Why did they not talk this out and maybe head somewhere else, like north or east? Or the several times that they were warned by people just like themselves that California wasn’t a good situation, why didn’t they trust them and head somewhere else?
Also, T.J. was an ass in the chapter. And when him and the preacher were basically talking about how horny they both were and T.J. talked about how he “ran down” a prostitute and then didn’t pay her… was I the only one worried that they were both just sharing stories about raping girls? Or did I completely misunderstand that?
Chapter 17 - It’s nice that all the traveling people are bonding and getting into a routine and all, but this was a little boring.
Chapter 18 – They made it!
Hooooray! Honestly, I thought going into this section that the journey would be a lot harder. When you think about it, they only kind of lost the dead weight – grandparents, that dog no one really seemed to care about, and the weird son. Hardly any trouble with their crappy vehicle too. However they get warned YET AGAIN that the situation here is real crappola but they decide to stick it out and maybe it’ll be different for them. Which is just BOUND to be a terrible idea.
Also, Ma is proving her awesomeness once again. Granma dies and she sits with the dead body for houuuurssss to make sure they get across the border and into Cali all right. I felt bad for her, but once again I wasn’t really sad about the grandparent dying. I think this is one of the slip-ups Steinbeck has made in his writing – once the journey started he basically knocked both the grandparents out senseless and then they died. I didn’t really care that they died, because I didn’t get to see enough of them as characters to care.
Overall, lots of interesting stuff and lots to think about, but these chapters weren’t as strong and impressive at the first section. I’m excited to see what happens next… I’m hoping that Connie IS able to go learn some industrial skill so he can provide for his wife and kid. I’m hoping that Al and T.J. find jobs as mechanics or something, and that MAYBE Ma and Pa will find someway to make some money. But more likely, I see this going pretty badly and them maybe having to leave Cali by the end of the next section. We shall see!