The Grapes of Wrath: Novel Summary: Chapter 13

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Summary

In their "ancient overloaded Hudson," the Joads begin their trek in earnest. They stop at a service station where the attendant informs them that he has seen family after family moving west, begging to trade personal items and belongings for gasoline. He claims he can't figure out "what the country's comin' to." Casy attempts an explanation-that people are on the move in search of a better life-but the attendant either doesn't listen or doesn't understand. Tom accuses him of "jus' singin' a kinda song," and of not really wanting to know the answers to his questions. He warns the attendant, "Pretty soon you'll be on the road yourself."
Meanwhile, Rose of Sharon and Connie are dreaming of their future once their baby is born, making plans to buy a car and a house after finding "plenty work in California." They witness a car striking one of the Joad dogs, who wasn't tied up; Rose of Sharon wonders if the incident will have any ill effects on her baby. Uncle John blames himself for the dog's death: "I ought ta tied him up."
Tom takes the wheel when the family begins driving again. Ma asks Tom if he will be in trouble for breaking his parole by crossing state lines. Tom tries to reassure her, but her mind is not fully put at ease.
The family stops for the night next to Ivy and Sarah ("Sairy") Wilson, with whom they strike up a friendship. Sarah offers their tent for Grampa, who has become sick, to rest in. Casy, who attends to Grampa, suspects the old man is suffering from a stroke. Granma urges Casy to pray for her husband. Casy refuses, but as Grampa grows worse, Granma grows more insistent. Finally, as Casy haltingly recites the Lord's Prayer, Grampa dies. The event creates a familial bond between the Wilsons and the Joads; the Wilson tent, where Grampa Joad died, becomes, in effect, holy ground. Ma and Sarah work together to prepare Grampa for burial. When Ma promises to "make it up" to the Wilsons, Sarah tells her, "We're proud to help . . . . People needs-to help." Ma agrees.
Another plot of holy ground is the place where the Joads bury Grampa. Even though the law no longer allows family members to bury their own deceased loved ones, Pa insists on burying his father himself. Casy endorses this decision: "Law changes, but 'got to's' go on." Tom copies out a Scripture verse (Psalm 32:1) to include in Grampa's grave. Casy, the unconventional "preacher," delivers an unconventional eulogy over Grampa's grave, stressing the holiness of all that is alive more than the fact that Grampa is now dead. Casy says that, if he were to pray, he would pray, not for the dead, but for the living. Later, he tells the family, "Grampa an' the old place [meaning the Joad land], they was jus' the same thing." He says Grampa never intended to fulfill the indulgent fantasies of California life he spun so vividly: "He died the minute you took 'im off the place."
The Wilsons and Joads make plans to travel together, distributing people and goods between the Joads' truck and the Wilsons' car. As Ma states, "Each'll help each, an' we'll all get to California."
Analysis
This chapter begins the second phase of the novel - the trip to California. The Joads suffer their first family loss when Grampa dies. It seems as if he was unable to accept having to leave his home and did not want to live any longer.
The chapter deals with life and death; the death of Grampa which causes the first disruption of the family unit, the unforeseen death of their dog, and Rose of Sharon's concern that this event could have an adverse effect on the unborn baby.
The experience at the gas station foreshadows the first of many humiliations that the Joads will face throughout their journey of being classified as a vagrant and/or thieves.
Meeting the Wilsons and deciding that they will stay together and help each other along the way is indicative of Steinbeck's socialist beliefs.

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