The Grapes of Wrath: Novel Summary: Chapter 15

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Summary

Route 66 is dotted with diners and gas stations that are trying to lure drivers to stop and enter their establishment. One of them, owned by Mae and Al, has an experience with a migrant family.
A disheveled looking man, accompanied with two little boys, asks to be sold a loaf of bread. Mae is reluctant to sell the diner's hamburger buns; she only relents when the sullen fry cook, Al, tells her to sell the bread. Mae apparently experiences a change of heart, however, when she sells candy to the family's little boys "two for a penny." As Big Bill, a truck driver watching the exchange, states: "Them was nickel apiece candy." The chapter ends as Al plays one of the diner's slot machine, knowing it is about to pay off; he collects the jackpot and deposits it in the cash register. Mae wonders briefly about the fate of the family she has just encountered, before more truck drivers arrive, and she must return to her own business.
Analysis
Although this chapter ostensibly takes place in a specific hamburger stand along Route 66, where specific songs play on the jukebox and a specific waitress, Mae, witnesses the comings-and-goings of truck drivers, tourists, and migrants, Steinbeck clearly offers this chapter as another "big picture" chapter. The details are specific and at the same time universal.

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