Chapter 8 Notes from Grapes of Wrath

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Grapes of Wrath Chapter 8

Tom and Casy start walking to Uncle John's place before dawn. Tom describes Uncle John to Casy as an unpredictable, lonely widower. Once, Uncle John ignored his pregnant wife's complaint of a stomachache, and she died of a burst appendix the next day. After that, Uncle John always was giving things to people to make up for killing his wife. "He'd come to our house in the night sometimes, an' we knowed he come 'cause jus' as sure as he come there'd be a pack of gum in the bed right beside ever' one of us. We thought he was Jesus Christ Awmighty." Chapter 8, pg. 87 Uncle John never went to church though.

As Tom and Casy approach the house they notice a bunch of furniture piled in the yard and guess that the family is getting ready to leave. They sneak up on Tom's dad who is working on a Hudson in the front yard. Old Tom asks them what they want before recognizing his son. He is surprised and asks if Tom has escaped from jail. Tom tells him he is paroled. Old Tom says they are going to California but that his mother is depressed because she thinks she may never see Tom again. Old Tom decided to surprise Ma Joad by introducing Tom and Casy as two strangers looking for breakfast. Tom steps into the kitchen and Ma drops a fork in surprise. She asked him if he was wanted for escaping and he explained. Then she felt his arms and cheeks in shocked joy. She quickly recovered and sent Pa to get Grampa and Granma for breakfast.

While Pa is gone, Ma asks Tom if he has become an angry man in prison, because she knew a boy who turned mean and crazy after being abused in prison. He says he is not mad, but that seeing his house destroyed affected him. She tells him not to fight. As the others return, he says he never knew her to be so complacent. Granma and Grampa race across the yard. Granma is screaming "Pur-raise Gawd fur vittory!" Chapter 8, pg. 97 and Grampa is trying to button his fly while running. Pa and Noah, the eldest son, follow. Noah has the appearance of being misshapen. When he was being born, Pa tried to pull him out before the midwife arrived and the midwife had to reshape his squished skull.

Grampa and Granma congratulate Tom on getting out of jail, and elbow past him to the breakfast table. Noah and Tom exchange a simple "How a' you?" As they sit down to biscuits and gravy, Tom remembers Casy. He brings Casy in from the front yard, and Granma insists that he say grace. In quite an unconventional prayer, Casy explains how he has come to the conclusion that being one with the earth and other humans is holy. His prayer is punctuated by Amens and Hallelujahs from Granma. Breakfast begins when he remembers to add a concluding Amen to his rambling account.

Topic Tracking: Holiness 2

After breakfast, the men go examine the truck. Pa says his son, Al, confirmed that the engine was good before they bought it. Al is good with cars. Grampa tells them what he is going to do when he gets to California. "Gonna get me a whole big bunch of grapes off a bush, or whatever, an' I'm gonna squash 'em on my face an' let 'em run offen my chin." Chapter 8, pg. 105 Pa tells Tom that Uncle Tom went to town to sell some of their things and took Ruthie and Winfield, Tom's youngest sisters, with him. He also tells him that "Rosasharn" (Rose of Sharon), his other sister, has married and is staying with her husband's family.

Pa spots cousin Al ambling up the road and points him out to Tom and Casy. When Al realizes he has been noticed, he changes his walk to a swagger. But when he recognizes Tom, his arrogance falls away and admiration replaces it. Tom has a venerable reputation because he killed a man. Al sees that Tom is not a swagger but a brooding, controlled man. Al adopts his brooding mien. Tom asks about Al's skill with cars. Al downplays his talent. He asks if Tom escaped from jail, and is disappointed by the answer.

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