Study Guide

The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 4

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 4

  • Tom drinks some whiskey by the side of the road, and he watches the truck driver drive away.
  • Tom spies a turtle, and he picks it up and wraps it in his coat. He can feel it struggling to get free.
  • It's a really hot day today, and Tom has to walk a fair distance. He decides to rest underneath a willow tree.
  • A strange man is resting under the willow and is singing a song.
  • The strange man recognizes Tom, and Tom realizes that he's staring at his childhood preacher.
  • The preacher's name is Reverend Jim Casy, but as it turns out, he's no longer a preacher. Casy left the religious life a while back and decided to leave town.
  • Casy tells Tom about the various sins he committed while he was a preacher, not the least of which was sleeping with the female congregants. A lot.
  • The preacher had a ton of guilt about sleeping with his congregants, but he started to think about the idea of sin. He says, "There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing" (4.35).
  • Casy starts to wax a bit philosophical. He tells Tom that he believes that all men's souls are part of one giant, universal soul. He believes all humans are connected in this way.
  • Tom tells Casy about being sent to jail for killing a man. FYI, Tom is not ashamed of anything.
  • The way Tom describes it, the McAlester State Penitentiary is a pretty sweet deal. You get fed on time every single day, you get clean clothes, and you can take baths all the time.
  • Tom and Casy decide to brave the fierce sun and make their way to the Joad farm, Tom's homeland.
  • As they get closer and closer to the Joad property, Tom begins to walk down memory lane. He remembers how his Uncle John traded his father spools of wire in exchange for a pig. He ate the pig in one night and got really sick.
  • Tom and Casy finally catch sight of the Joad home, but something is amiss. It looks like a ghost town.

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