The Grapes of Wrath Highlights

After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, loc. 57-59


And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 11, loc. 732-736


The tenant pondered. "Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it's part of him, and it's like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn't doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he's bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn't successful he's big with his property. That is so." And the tenant pondered more. "But let a man get property he doesn't see, or can't take time to get his fingers in, or can't be there to walk on it-why, then the property is the man. He can't do what he wants, he can't think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big-and he's the servant of his property. That is so, too."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 12, loc. 756-764


"That's so," the tenant said. "Who gave you orders? I'll go after him. He's the one to kill."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 13, loc. 781-781


If on'y they didn't tell me I got to get off, why, I'd prob'y be in California right now a-eatin' grapes an' a-pickin' an orange when I wanted. But them sons-a-bitches says I got to get off-an', Jesus Christ, a man can't, when he's tol' to!"

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 18, loc. 971-974


Had he not been fifty years old, and so one of the natural rulers of the family, Uncle John would have preferred not to sit in the honor place beside the driver. He would have liked Rose of Sharon to sit there. This was impossible, because she was young and a woman.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 51, loc. 2037-2039


Carbon is not a man, nor salt nor water nor calcium. He is all these, but he is much more, much more; and the land is so much more than its analysis. The man who is more than his chemistry, walking on the earth, turning his plow point for a stone, dropping his handles to slide over an outcropping, kneeling in the earth to eat his lunch; that man who is more than his elements knows the land that is more than its analysis.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 65, loc. 2495-2498


But the machine man, driving a dead tractor on land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry; and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself. When the corrugated iron doors are shut, he goes home, and his home is not the land.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 65, loc. 2498-2501


HIGHWAY 66 IS THE main migrant road. 66-the long concrete path across the country, waving gently up and down on the map, from the Mississippi to Bakersfield-over the red lands and the gray lands, twisting up into the mountains, crossing the Divide and down into the bright and terrible desert, and across the desert to the mountains again, and into the rich California valleys.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 66, loc. 2524-2527


[They] reassure themselves that business is noble and not the curious ritualized thievery they know it is; that business men are intelligent in spite of the records of their stupidity; that they are kind and charitable in spite of the principles of sound business; that their lives are rich instead of the thin tiresome routines they know; and that a time is coming when they will not be afraid any more.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 91, loc. 3411-3414


The nickel, which has caused all this mechanism to work, has caused Crosby to sing and an orchestra to play - this nickel drops from between the contact points into the box where the profits go. The nickel, unlike most money, has actually done a job of work, has been physically responsible for a reaction.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 93, loc. 3469-3472


"Well, we all got to make a livin'." "Yeah," Tom said. "On'y I wisht they was some way to make her 'thout takin' her away from somebody else."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 114, loc. 4235-4237


"Look," the young man said. "S'pose you got a job a work, an' there's jus' one fella wants the job. You got to pay 'im what he asts. But s'pose they's a hunderd men." He put down his tool. His eyes hardened and his voice sharpened. "S'pose they's a hunderd men wants that job. S'pose them men got kids, an' them kids is hungry. S'pose a lousy dime'll buy a box a mush for them kids. S'pose a nickel'll buy at leas' somepin for them kids. An' you got a hunderd men. Jus' offer 'em a nickel-why, they'll kill each other fightin' for that nickel. Know what they was payin' las' job I had? Fifteen cents an hour. Ten hours for a dollar an' a half, an' ya can't stay on the place. Got to burn gasoline gettin' there." He was panting with anger, and his eyes blazed with hate. "That's why them han'bills was out. You can print a hell of a lot of han'bills with what ya save payin' fifteen cents an hour for fiel' work."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 155, loc. 5657-5665


Tom said, "Sure. Casy said, 'You got no right to starve people.' An' then this heavy fella called him a red son-of-a-bitch. An' Casy says, 'You don' know what you're a-doin'.' An' then this guy smashed 'im."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 260, loc. 9512-9514


"I know that. An' I don't need no safety razor, neither. Stuff settin' out there, you jus' feel like buyin' it whether you need it or not."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 274, loc. 10015-10017


He was quiet for a long time. "I been thinkin' how it was in that gov'ment camp, how our folks took care a theirselves, an' if they was a fight they fixed it theirself; an' they wasn't no cops wagglin' their guns, but they was better order than them cops ever give. I been a-wonderin' why we can't do that all over. Throw out the cops that ain't our people. All work together for our own thing-all farm our own lan'."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 279, loc. 10223-10227


"I know. I never even see it, thinkin' how the willow's los' its leaves now. Sometimes figgerin' to mend that hole in the south fence. Funny! Woman takin' over the fambly. Woman sayin' we'll do this here, an' we'll go there. An' I don' even care."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 282, loc. 10339-10341


"Woman can change better'n a man," Ma said soothingly. "Woman got all her life in her arms. Man got it all in his head. Don' you mind. Maybe-well, maybe nex' year we can get a place."

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 282, loc. 10341-10343


I noticed that. Man, he lives in jerks - baby born an' a man dies, an' that's a jerk - gets a farm an' loses his farm, an' that's a jerk. Woman, it's all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 283, loc. 10347-10349


The rain began with gusty showers, pauses and downpours; and then gradually it settled to a single tempo, small drops and a steady beat, rain that was gray to see through, rain that cut midday light to evening.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 289, loc. 10567-10568