Study Guide

The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 21

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 21

  • Families continue to flood into California from the Dust Bowl, looking for work in the fields and orchards.
  • The migrant workers are starving, and their children are starving.
  • There are not enough jobs for the number of people who need jobs in California. Men are willing to work for practically nothing, just so that they can get work.
  • The price of the fruit, vegetables, and cotton remains the same, but the cost of labor gets smaller and smaller. The landowners grow rich.
  • The towns grow wary of the migrant workers. They think they are sketchy.
  • The Californians are freaked out by the rampant hunger of the migrant worker community.
  • Landowners invest money in spies, guns, gas, and other means of subduing the growing anger and growing desperation of the migrant worker families.
  • Small farmers begin to lose their land to big landowners, who've grown rich on the profit that cheap labor allows. They soon have to compete with the other migrant workers for work.
  • "The great companies did not know that the line between hunger and anger is a thin lineā€¦ And the anger began to ferment" (21.11).