Study Guide

The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 26

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 26

  • The Joads have been at Weedpatch for one month, and they still haven't found work.
  • They've been feasting upon fried dough. Yum.
  • Ma is worried about Winfield and Rose of Sharon—they don't look too hot.
  • The family decides to leave Weedpatch and move north to Tulare, where cotton pickers are needed.
  • The Joads take their time saying goodbye to the camp: Pa and Uncle spend some time on the toilet, Al rolls around with his new girlfriend, Tom smokes a cigarette with Jule and Wilkie, and Winfield punches a kid for calling him an "Okie."
  • At the crack of down the next morning, the Joads leave Weedpatch.
  • Soon after, they run over a nail and pop a tire.
  • As they are fixing the tire, a man pulls over and asks the Joads if they are looking for work. He tells them that the Hooper ranch, forty miles north, is looking for people to pick peaches.
  • As they approach the Hooper ranch, there's some kind of hullabaloo a-brewing.
  • Police stop them behind a line of several other, beat-up cars.
  • Motorcycles escort the cars into the gates of Hooper ranch.
  • Outside of the gates, people are screaming and yelling.
  • The Joads are assigned a little shack to stay in, and it is really dirty and smelly.
  • Pa, Tom, John, and Al head straight for the fields. They are told they can earn five cents per bucket of peaches that they pick.
  • When they've earned a dollar, Ma goes to the little grocery store in the peach camp and buys food.
  • Dinner time! Everyone is starving. They have hamburgers, which is an insane luxury.
  • Tom tries to figure out what all of the hullabaloo with the angry, yelling people was about.
  • A guard at the peach camp gates tells him the angry, yelling people were picketers, and then he tells Tom to walk in the other direction.
  • Tom sneaks under the barbed wire fence that surrounds the peach camp. He's feeling a little Sherlock Holmes-ish; he wants to figure out what is going down, why people were yelling and screaming outside the gates of the peach camp.
  • Down the road a ways from the peach camp, Tom spies a tent with a lit lantern. He pays a visit.
  • Guess who is there? You'll never guess. Reverend Jim Casy.
  • Casy is with his cronies, and he tells Tom stories about the time he spent in jail. He tells Tom that it's powerful when oppressed men get together and fight their oppressors.

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  • The men hear footsteps in the surrounding darkness, so they head for the creek.
  • Tom and Casy try to be all stealthy and quiet as they move along the creek bed, but suddenly they are flooded by flashlights.
  • A man carrying a brand new pick axe recognizes Casy, strikes at his head, and kills him instantly.
  • Something hits Tom's face, and he can feel his cheek torn open.
  • Tom pulls the pick-axe from Casy's head and strikes at the murder. He has very good aim.

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  • Tom runs away from the men with flashlights and pick-axes.
  • Tom sneaks back into the peach camp. His clothes are soaking wet from having swum across a ditch. His face hurts, because he has a broken nose and a torn cheek.
  • Tom goes to bed.
  • The next day, everyone goes to work in the fields except Tom and Rose of Sharon. Tom can't go out for fear he'll be recognized by the guards and taken to jail.
  • Rose of Sharon is going a wee bit batty, and she thinks that the sin of Tom's murders is going to ruin her baby.
  • Winfield gets skitters, or diarrhea, from eating too many peaches. He is really sick.
  • The landowners have stopped paying the workers five cents per bushel of peaches and are now paying a mere two and half cents per bushel.
  • The family decides that they need to get Tom out of harm's way. They leave that night, nestling Tom between their two mattresses in the truck bed.
  • The Joads drive north, and they see signs saying that there is work for cotton pickers.
  • Tom decides to separate himself from the family in order to make them safer. He goes to camp in the bushes. Nearby is a row of old boxcars that serve as makeshift homes for the cotton pickers.
  • That night the Joads sleep in their car. They've decided to look for work in the cotton fields.