Quotes About Hope in The Grapes of Wrath

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

The Joad family experiences multiple hardships through the Great Depression, but learn that as long as they are unified, there is always hope. In this lesson, we will examine quotes about hope from John Steinbeck's ''The Grapes of Wrath''.

Background Information

Desmond Tutu, a social rights activist in South Africa, once said, 'Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.' Hope is wishing and anticipating that something better will happen. In The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, there are moments when all the Joad family has is hope. They lose their farm during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma and are forced to go to California to find work. When they arrive, they discover that they aren't welcome by their fellow workers because the employers are taking advantage of having too many workers to lower labor costs. Throughout their ordeal, they learn that the best way to endure any hardship is by unifying with others. In this lesson, we will examine quotes about hope from this novel.

The Dust Bowl

After the Dust Bowl destroys the crops, the men stare in silence at their devastating loss and '…the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men--to feel whether this time the men would break. The women studied the men's faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something else remained.' The women realize that as long as there is hope, they can overcome this huge setback. If hope is lost, they have lost everything.

Heading to California

As the family is packing to go to California, they negotiate about what they should bring. At this point, it is unclear who is speaking when it is said, 'Wouldn't go out naked of a rifle. When shoes and clothes and food, when even hope is gone, we'll have the rifle. When Grampa came--did I tell you?--he had pepper and salt and a rifle.' Although the statement suggests that a rifle is more important than hope, it is actually saying that as long as the rifle is there, they have hope. With a rifle, they can find food and keep themselves safe.

Enduring Obstacles

Tom gets frustrated that the corrupt police are forcing them out of their camp. Ma worries that his anger may lead to trouble. She says, 'You got to have patience. Why, Tom--us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on.' When Tom is starting to lose hope, Ma has enough for both of them. She knows that they are survivors.


After the former reverend, Casy, is killed for trying to organize a union, Tom beats the man who killed him. Tom hides out alone as there has been talk of a lynching. When Ma brings him dinner, Tom says, 'I been thinkin' a hell of a lot, thinkin' about our people livin' like pigs, an' the good rich lan' layin' fallow, or maybe one fella with a million acres, while a hunderd thousan' good farmers is starvin'. An' I been wonderin' if all our folks got together an' yelled, like them fellas yelled, only a few of 'em at the Hooper ranch--'

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