The Grapes of Wrath Al Quotes

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in 'The Grapes of Wrath.' As the Joad family makes their incredible journey, we get to know each of them a little better. In this lesson we will take a close look at Al's quotes and explore what they say about him.

The Teenage Years

The teen years are a time of turmoil and raging hormones. Adding to that challenge we all face, try imagine having to go on a long road trip with your family and you can probably imagine how Al in The Grapes of Wrath feels. Despite the difficulties, Al manages to enjoy life, crack jokes, and make an adult decision about his future.

Al and his Brother

The first times we meet Al is when he and Tom see each other for the first time since Tom got out of prison. Tom is Al's older brother and we get the feeling that he looks up to Tom. The narrator reveals this in a lengthy quote we can look at now. The narrator says:

'Al saw the dark brooding eyes of his brother, and the prison calm, the smooth hard face trained to indicate nothing to a prison guard, neither resistance nor slavishness. And instantly Al changed. Unconsciously he became like his brother, and his handsome face brooded, and his shoulders relaxed.'

In other words, when Al sees his brother, he automatically emulates him without even realizing it.

When his brother asks him if he's good with cars, Al doesn't want his brother to think he brags, so he just says 'I don't know nothin' much about it.' The truth is that Al is a fantastic mechanic, so his modesty, which is when someone downplays the quality of their abilities or importance, goes a long way in expressing how much value he places in his brother's opinion of him.

Al and the Car

Al is a talented mechanic and is the one who drives most of the way up to California. He is obsessed with how the car functions. The narrator tells us that Al can hear every squeak and rumble that the car makes. In fact, the narrator comments, 'he had become the soul of the car.' Later, when he thinks about how they may need to climb a mountain in the car, he comments:

'We'll burn right up if we got climbin' to do. Have to throw out some a' this stuff. Maybe, we shouldn' a brang that preacher.'

This comment shows Al's sense of humor. His solution for the car weighing too much is to throw out the preacher. This quote also shows us that he doesn't necessarily respect the ex-preacher.

Al's Bluntness

Similar to his sense of humor is Al's bluntness, which means he's abrupt and to the point with how he expresses himself. When Tom and Al are talking about people climbing a dangerous mountain, Tom says that lots of people have climbed it. Al's response is that 'lots must a died.' This comment shows us that Al is not overly concerned with being polite. He seems to just say what is on his mind. Another example of his bluntness comes after Granma dies. Al sits down near Uncle John and Casy. and then says 'Well, she was ol'. Guess her time was up.' He then adds, 'Ever'body got to die.' Thanks Al, not depressing at all. Quite the downer, right? When Uncle John and Casy don't respond, Al asks 'Well, ain't they?'

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