Grapes of Wrath Chapter 22
The Joads drive into the government camp, and find that there is one spot open. They find the camp has running water. Tom registers with the watchman while the family unloads. He finds out the camp is governed by committees of campers who are voted in by the community. The camp cost a dollar a week, but campers can work to pay their rent. Tom asks about the police, and is told that they can only enter if they have a warrant. The watchman tells him the camp holds special dance nights as well. Tom can hardly believe their good luck.
The next morning Tom wakes up to the sound of metal clanging. He walks down the line of tents and is invited to join a two men and a woman for breakfast. They tell him they have had twelve solid days of work. They have been eating regularly and just bought themselves new clothes. They are the Wallaces. They offer to help Tom get a job laying pipes with them, and he accepts. When they arrive Thomas, their employer, tells them they have to take a pay cut, from thirty cents to twenty-five cents. He explains angrily that the Association of Farmers, which is run by a large bank, has mandated the pay cut. He hates to pay them less than they deserve, but he has to if he wants to keep his farm. They accept the new rate. Then Thomas tells them that someone is trying to set up a fight at the next Saturday night dance. "The Association don't like government camps. Can't get a deputy in there. The people make their own laws, I hear, and you can't arrest a man without a warrant. Now if there was a big fight and maybe shooting - a bunch of deputies could go in and clean out the camp." Chapter 22, pg. 378 They promise not to tell anyone he warned them. Then they get to work digging a ditch.
Back at the camp, Ruthie and Winfield investigate the toilets. When Winfield flushes one, the sound of rushing water convinces them they have broken it. Later Ma laughs at them and tells them that is the way it is supposed to work. Ma looks around the bathroom and begins washing her face when a man comes in and tells her she is in the men's bathroom. He also tells her a committee is coming to inform her of the way the camp is run. She runs back to her tent and wakes everyone up and tells them to clean up so they can be ready for the committee. While Ma is cooking breakfast, the manager of the camp, Ezra Huston, stops by. Ma is suspicious of him at first, but he befriends her quickly over a cup of her coffee. She says that her family is not ready for the committee because they have been traveling, but he says the committee will understand. Ma is so happy she almost cries after he leaves. "We're Joads. We don't look up to nobody...We was farm people till the debt. And then - them people. They done sompin' to us. Ever' time they come seemed like they was a-whippin' me - all of us...Made me feel ashamed. An' now I ain't ashamed. These folks is our folks." Chapter 22, pg. 393 Al, Pa, and Uncle John leave to find work. Rose of Sharon comes in and tells Ma she has just taken a shower. Ma gets excited and goes in to take one herself. While she is gone, a woman walks by and notices that Rose of Sharon is pregnant. The woman warns her about the sinful "clutch-an'-hug dancin'" Chapter 22, pg. 394 and devilish stage acting that goes on at the Saturday night dances. She tells her to be a good girl, because she knew people whose child was born black because of their sin. Rose of Sharon fears she will loose her baby. The manager comes by and reassures her that what the woman said is nonsense. Ma returns and also comforts her.
The committee arrives and takes Ma and Rose of Sharon on a tour of the camp beginning with the sanitary unit. The three women of the committee explain how everything is used and tell Ma that it must be left clean. They tell her a story about a woman who they found trying to clean her clothes in a toilet. Another woman in the sanitary unit confesses to the committee that her children have diarrhea and are using too much toilet paper. The committee chair suggests that the woman borrow money from the camp to get proper food for her children until her family finds work. The camp has credit at a local store. The woman balks at taking charity, but the committee explains that this isn't charity. One woman tells a story about going to the Salvation Army. She says they made them crawl for their food. They took their dignity.
Meanwhile, Pa, Al, and John have difficulty finding work and decide to come back to camp to ask around for leads. They pick up a man who has been walking all day looking for work.
After the committee leaves, the religious fanatic who scared Rose of Sharon earlier stops by and introduces herself as Mrs. Sandry. She complains that all the people in the camp are sinners, but Ma disagrees with her. Mrs. Sandry insists that everyone in the camp is a black sinner, and Ma gets up and tells her to leave. Mrs. Sandry says the Joads are going to burn in hell, and then she begins howling and salivating. "I can see your black soul a-burnin'. I see that innocent child in that there girl's belly a-burnin'." Chapter 22, pg. 409 Her eyes roll back and she collapses on the floor. Men come and drag her out. The manager comes and explains that Mrs. Sandry is crazy. When Pa arrives he notices that Ma is moping. She explains that now that she feels settled, she cannot stop thinking about all the sad things that have happened on the trip. Pa is also depressed because he could not find work. Ma is optimistic that work will come up because Tom found work so easily.