Grapes of Wrath Chapter 28
The Joads move into one end of the last boxcar. Two rows of six cars sit next to a stream. They provide watertight, draft-free housing for the first twenty-four families that arrive to pick cotton. Everyday the Joads pick cotton and make enough money to buy meat for dinner. They buy a tin stove, new overalls for all the men, and a new dress for Ma with the money they make. Pa splurges on two boxes of Cracker Jack for Ruthie and Winfield. They go out and play, and Ruthie gets into a fight with a bigger girl. Ruthie tells her she has an older brother who is hiding because he killed a man, and that he is going to kill the girl's older brother. Winfield runs home and tells Ma.
Ma goes to tell Tom immediately. She sets his dinner down in the designated culvert and hides herself while she waits for Tom to appear. When he comes he leads her back to his cave. There she tells him what Ruthie has done. She says he has to leave. He agrees. She offers him seven dollars that she has saved. She suggests that he take a bus to a big city so he cannot be found. He says he has been thinking while hiding in the cave. He has been thinking about Casy, and wants to organize the migrants like Casy tried to do. He quotes some scripture that Casy told him, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lif' up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up." Chapter 28, pg. 533 Tom is less afraid of the risk of leading the people since he is already an outlaw, and he says is he does die it will not matter. "A fella ain't got a soul of his own, but on'y a piece of a big one...then I'll be around in the dark. I'll be ever'where - wherever you look." Chapter 28, pg. 534 He accepts the seven dollars and Ma leaves. On the way back to the boxcar, Ma meets a farmer looking for cotton pickers. They discuss the rumor that wages will drop from ninety to seventy five cents the next year. He says, "Little fella like me can't do anything. The Association sets the rate, and we got to mind. If we don't - we ain't go to farm. The little fella gets crowded all the time." Chapter 28, pg. 536 She tells him her family will be at his farm the next day.
When she gets back, Pa and the head of the family living on the other side of their boxcar, Mr. Wainwright, are discussing his daughter's relationship with Al. She and Al spend every night together. Mr. Wainwright asks Pa to tell Al not to compromise their daughter, Aggie. Pa assents. When Mr. Wainwright leaves, Ma tells the family she has sent Tom away. Pa is depressed. He says, "I ain't no good no more. Spen' all my time thinkin' of home, an' I ain't never gonna see it no more." Chapter 28, pg. 538 Ma encourages him. She says life isn't over, that it keeps coming, and you have to live it one day at a time. Al comes in and announces his intention to marry Aggie. The Wainwrights and Joads celebrate with coffee, pancakes, and syrup. Rose of Sharon walks out of the car during the party and crawls into a thicket and goes to sleep there.
The next morning, Rose of Sharon says she is going to go out and pick cotton. They leave early to get to the new picking field, but so many people arrive that the twenty acres are picked by eleven o'clock. On the way back it begins to rain. Rose of Sharon looks sick. It is pouring rain when they get back and Rose of Sharon is chilled.