Study Guide

The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 30

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 30

  • The rain keeps pounding down on the camp, and the creek out in front of the boxcars begins to swell.
  • Rose of Sharon is feverish and sick.
  • Pa convinces a bunch of men to help him dig troughs to keep the creek's water from rising. They dig tirelessly.
  • Rose of Sharon goes into labor, and Ma and Mrs. Wainwright help her through her contractions.
  • The men outside continue to dig away, but a big cottonwood tree is swept up by the creek-turned-mini-raging-river, and it floats downstream. The tree gets stuck a little ways down, making the water rise even faster.
  • The men are freaked out by the flood, and they are also freaked out by Rose of Sharon's ear-piercing screams.
  • Eventually, the ear-piercing screaming stops. Pa goes inside the boxcar to check out the situation.
  • Mrs. Wainwright shows Pa the blue corpse of a baby.

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  • At this point, the water has climbed up to the boxcars and cars and is inches thick.
  • Al tries to start the Joad truck, but the engine has been killed by the water.
  • Other campers become furious at Pa Joad for convincing them to stay and fight the flood with levy-building tactics. Now, no one's car will start, and everyone is stranded.
  • Pa and Al build a platform in the boxcar to keep the family dry. The water level is now ankle deep in the boxcar.
  • Ma, Pa, John, Rose of Sharon, Ruthie, and Winfield decide to find a drier and safer place.
  • Al decides to stay with the Wainwrights and to look out for the Joad possessions.
  • The Joads stumble across a barn, and they go inside to take shelter from the rain.
  • Inside, they find a little boy sitting next to man who is starving to death. The boy tells them that his father has not eaten anything in six days.
  • Ma and Rose of Sharon exchange a meaningful look, and then Rose of Sharon asks everyone to leave her alone with the man in the barn.
  • Rose of Sharon lies down next to the half-starved man, she puts his mouth to her breast, and she lets him drink her breast milk.
  • A mysterious smile comes across Rose of Sharon's face.

(Click the summary infographic to download.)