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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath: Summary - Part II

Picking up where I left off, the Joads are getting very close to the California state line, and at this point, rumors are being heard of a rapidly depleting job market. One fellow migrant tells Pa Joad that for every 800 jobs available, there are about 20,000 people who show up wanting one of them and that his children have starved to death because of his inability to find work. That, right there, is a real shocker. That means twenty thousand people from out of state are in the area of job searching for each eight hundred available jobs. I cannot even imagine what the decision making process would be like for the people hiring the migrants. How could they choose one person from the thousands of possible applicants? The Joads keep pushing forward, but in their first few days of the California life, tragedy strikes the family as Granma Joad dies. The remaining family members wander from camp to miserable camp, looking without luck for jobs, struggling to find food to stay alive, and desperately trying to hold the family together. Noah, the oldest child, soon abandons the family in search of his own line of work, along with Connie, who is married to Tom's pregnant sister, Rose of Sharon. The migrant camps in California are overcrowded and full of hateful people. The California natives are furious about the massive onslaught of newcomers, whom they label as "Okies." Work is nearly impossible to find, or the wages from the jobs are too little to keep a family afloat. Fearing hostile takeover, the wealthy landowners do everything they can to keep the migrants needy and dependent. While staying in the Hooverville, Tom and several other men get into an argument with a sheriff over whether or not the workers should form a union. As the dispute turns violent, Jim Casy knocks out the sheriff and is consequently arrested. Police officers arrive and tell everyone that they are going to burn the Hooverville down.

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