Notes on Grapes of Wrath Themes

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Grapes of Wrath Topic Tracking: Endurance

Chapter 1

Endurance 1: The tenant farmers' crops are ruined by drought and a windstorm. The survival of the farmers and their families is in jeopardy. The women wonder if this will be the situation that breaks their husbands, but the men recover from their shock and begin planning for the future.

Chapter 3

Endurance 2: A small tortoise drags its heavy shell up a steep embankment and across a perilous highway. It is assaulted by red ant that crawls into its shell, and by a malicious driver, who tries to run it over; however, the tortoise never looses its sense of humor or its resolve to go forward.

Chapter 9

Endurance 3: When the tenants are evicted, they are forced to sell or burn most of their prized possessions. The women wonder how they will be able to go on living without their history. The men say their lives have been junked. Yet, they continue to live.

Chapter 13

Endurance 4: As the Joads begin their trip Al asks his mother if she is scared about the future. She says she cannot afford to be scared of the thousands of things that could happen, but can only worry about the actual events that present themselves moment by moment.

Chapter 16

Endurance 5: Casy expresses doubt that there will be jobs for the hundreds of migrants he has seen on the road west. Tom says he is worrying about the present not the future. When they meet a complaining one-eyed car lot attendant, Tom tells the man to stop feeling sorry for himself and do something about his state, but the man cries himself to sleep that night as Tom predicts he does regularly.

Chapter 18

Endurance 6: Rose of Sharon is concerned that Granma may die. Ma tells her that death is not such a big deal. She says that after one has had many experiences all the tragedies of life blend into one larger stream of experience and they do not hurt so much.

Chapter 19

Endurance 7: Landowners try to cripple the migrant population by mistreating them and threatening them but repression only strengthens the repressed. The migrant people will endure and grow stronger, learning from their experience.

Chapter 20

Endurance 8: Tom endures the insults of a group of blockaders without defending his pride as he would usually do. He says the authorities are chipping away his dignity, and he fights back tears. Ma says that they belong to the people who will go on living in spite of calamity.

Chapter 28

Endurance 9: When Tom leaves the family, Pa says he is depressed. He says he only thinks about home, which he will never see again. Ma tells him not to live in the past. She says life keeps coming.

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