Chapter 19: Basically a long angry rant about big farms taking over, and how much it sucks for all the people that have come to California expecting awesomeness, but are now getting harassed and going hungry. I liked this quote a lot:
“They could not resist, because they wanted nothing in the world as ferociously as the Americans wanted land.”
That one quote basically sums up all of white imperialism.
Chapter 20: Lots of action in this chapter… T.J. is unable to understand human speech, such as when people tell him that there’s no work for them in California. It’s like is brain literally cannot process the idea of too many people, not enough work.
Connie decides, hey, maybe I should have stayed home and taken one of those $3 tractor jobs (duh) and runs off to who knows where. Ma is super awesome and feeds some kids, though she was using up her own family’s resources. Some big-time farmer and cop show up to start trouble, and Casy SAVES THE DAY by knocking out the cop and getting himself arrested. Good job, preacher. Uncle John is a selfish brat who uses up precious money to go attempt to drink himself to death, and personally I think they should have left him. Aaaand the Joads hit the road right before the camp gets burned up.
Chapter 21: Steinbeck hints at more “a revolution is coming”-ness.
Chapter 22: The Joads find a government relief camp and settle down there for a bit. So yay for them for catching a break, even though work is still hard to find. They’re just happy they’re with people like them, and it restores their dignity a bit. There’s a group of super-religious crazy nuts who think that everything is the devil, and one of them (Mrs. Sandry I think her name was?) keeps trying to start trouble. Rosasharn is annoying, and Ma keeps telling her to man the eff up.
Chapter 23: A kind of boring chapter about all the different ways in which the camp people amuse themselves in their down time.
Chapter 24: The camp successfully prevents a planned riot breaking out, which would have allowed the local cops to come in and try to shut it down. So hooray for them! Seriously, these cops and locals are assholes. But then some of the men get together and talk about arming themselves and starting meetings… which on the one hand – good for you for trying to defend yourself, but on the other hand – this will only escalate the fears that you’re trying to start a revolt.
Chapter 25: So small farmers produce so much good food that they can’t afford to harvest it all and it goes bad, or gets destroyed so that the poor people can’t have it. (Don’t understand this… if the wages are driven down because there are so many men looking for work, why can’t the small farmers afford to hire more guys? Or is it the price of the food that’s gone down because they produced so much? I’m kind of confused by this.) And you know, Steinbeck is all angry about the whole thing, of course.
Yay, no one died this time around! Things are still going relatively alright for the Joads.
I think I’m having a hard time sympathizing with the Joads and the people migrating to California. Maybe partly because it’s now 80 years later and hey! things worked out pretty well. (I’m also having trouble focusing on the actual story, partly because things for the Joads are moving pretty slow and partly because Steinbeck is all like “LOOK! LOOOOOK at my politics and opinions! RISE UP PEOPLE.”
Also, I looked into the time period and the whole “Dust Bowl” phenomenon that caused all these farmers to head West, and I feel like Steinbeck’s anger is a bit misplaced. Part of the reason these dust storms happened were just environmental (droughts), and partly it was because of farmers not knowing how to rotate their crops to keep the soil healthy. So, the farmers then went and borrowed money from the banks, but that only put them further in debt because they used the same methods and year after year their crops sucked, so eventually the bank took their land. I get being mad at the bank about this, but from the sounds of just how bad the whole Dust Bowl thing was – they probably would have had to leave anyways. They just weren’t producing enough food, and the environment there was completely screwed up. They would have starved either way. (I also learned that FDR kind of helped fix all this by setting up funding to teach farmers how to farm without screwing up the soil, and by having a shit ton of trees planted to help break the wind and keep the dirt in place. So good for him.)
I get that industry and machines becoming the norm was really tough on most of the farmers, and that sucks. But I don’t think it makes those things inherently evil either. In fact, considering the huge population boom around that time (U.S. population alone went from 106 million to 132 million between 1920 and 1940), the industrialization of farming was kind of a necessity. And here we are, 80 years later and hardly anyone in this country goes hungry – at least not from lack of available food. And for the poorest of the poor, there are soup kitchens, food banks, food stamps, etc. Sure the food now is all full of hormones and chemicals, but at least everyone’s eating. And this trend is still growing, actually – of course it is, because there are 7 BILLION damn people on the planet.
ANYYYYWAYSSS… that was a lot longer than I intended. But as for the actual story – so the Joads numbers have dwindled yet again, but still not necessarily a bad thing. Apparently Steinbeck is one of those authors who won’t risk your emotions by killing off the characters you actually really like. And thank goodness, cause I couldn’t stand it if anything happened to Ma! I’m glad that they’re kind of chilling in the camp and able to rest a bit, and hopefully it leads to them finding some sort of permanent work. Who knows, maybe Connie will ride up like a knight in shining armor and be like “OH I found the best job ever I’m here to save you all.”