Grapes of Wrath Chapter 24
Saturday morning, the women washed clothes and others were stringing up wire to light the floor of the dance platform for the evening's festivities. Ezra Huston, the chairman, led a meeting of the Central Committee to discuss the news that someone might try to start a fight that evening. They have posted men to keep unwanted people from coming into the camp. They have increased the entertainment committee from five men to twenty-five men, and instructed them to dance while watching for trouble. The committee members cannot understand why anyone would want to destroy the camp.
Al put on a suit and shined his shoes before he went to the dance. He flirts with a girl. He mother comes out and shoes him away, saying that the girl is spoken for by another man. Rose of Sharon decided she doesn't want to go to the dance because of her condition. She is still mourning Connie's disappearance. Wille Eaton, a member of the Central Committee, tells Tom he is going to help guard the front gate with an Indian named Jule. He is to make sure no troublemakers get in. Tom will also be one of the dancers watching on the dance floor. Ma tells Rose of Sharon to come to the dance with her and just listen to the music. Ma says she will tell anyone who wants to dance with Rose of Sharon that she is sick. She agrees to go.
At the gate, Jule picks out three men who say Mr. Jackson invited them. Tom follows them to the dance floor, and tells Willie about them. They find Mr. Jackon and he says he used to work with them but has not invited them. The dance opens with the "Chicken Reel." After a few dances, one of the suspected men insists on dancing with another man's partner. A whistle sounds and the entertainment committee reaches him and moves him off the platform slowly. Immediately, a carload of cops arrives at the gate to the camp and tells the watchman to open up. They say they hear a riot, but the watchman tells them to listen to the quiet music of the dance. Meanwhile, the three guilty men are escorted to the edge of the camp and questioned. The men are migrants themselves. They do not confess, but they are warned not to try to hurt their own folks again. "We're tryin' to get along, havin' fun an' keepin' order. Don't tear all that down. Jes' think about it. You're jes' harmin' yourself." Chapter 24, pg. 439 They are put out of the camp peacefully, despite Jule's desire to punish them.
Pa talks with a man named Black Hat that evening who tells him about a group of men in Ohio who formed a union and threatened the town they worked in by walking through the town together on a "turkey hunt." After that incident, the town's officials accepted the union and changes were made. Black Hat says, " I been thinkin' maybe we ought to git up a turkey shootin' club an' have meetin's ever' Sunday." Chapter 24, pg. 440 This makes the men uneasy.