Study Guide

The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 5

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 5

  • The landowners and their representatives have to kick tenant farmers off the land. (Tenant farmers are sharecropping families that work the land and give a cut of the profit that comes from the crops to the landowner).
  • Because of the drought, the crops have been ruined, and the tenant farmers haven't been able to pay the landowners for the land.
  • The landowners are going to grow cotton, a crop that will bleed the soil dry of any remaining moisture and nutrients. Then the landowners plan to sell the land to unsuspecting East-coasters who are hoping to move west.
  • The farmers are devastated and can't understand why anyone would kick them off of the land they've been farming for generations.
  • The landowners say the bank monster is hungry for money, and that the bank monster can make more money if it replaces an entire farming family with a single tractor. Yikes!
  • Tractors invade the land, plowing the soil in preparation for the cotton crops.
  • A tractor driver can make $3 a day (good money).
  • The farmers recognize the tractor drivers. They are the sons of family friends. They wonder how anyone could betray a community by working for The Man.
  • The tractor drivers say that they have to look out for their own best interests; they have to feed their own families.
  • The landowners suggest that the tenant farmers move west to California, where there are tons of jobs and where it is always sunny.