The Grapes of Wrath: Novel Summary: Chapter 9

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Summary

The tenants are forced to get rid of many of their belongings as it is impossible to take everything with them. They also realize that much of what they have would be useless to them in California and wouldn't fit into the trucks. The men try to sell whatever they can but they are forced to practically give things away.
The tenants are extremely dejected by all of this.
Analysis
This "big picture" chapter depicts the sad scenes of uprooted families selling their deeply personal belongings, rich in accumulated memories and significance, for whatever money they can. Their family treasures, such as field tools sanctified by years of back-breaking labor, are dismissed as "junk" by those who buy them. The farming families warn the buyers that these goods convey a heavy load of bitterness and sorrow, the bitterness and sorrow of the dispossessed themselves. They utter this prophetic warning: "And some day-the armies of bitterness will all be going the same way. And they'll all walk together, and there'll be a dead terror from it." (Compare Ma Joad's comments to Tom in the previous chapter.) Judgment on a nation and a world in which "the monster" (see Chapter 5) is permitted to so drastically dehumanize people as to rob them of their past-and thereby their identity-may be deferred, but, the text seems to argue, it cannot forever be avoided. Some reckoning must occur.

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