The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 10 Summary

Instructor: Catherine Smith

Catherine has taught History, Literature, and Latin at the university level and holds a PhD in Education.

Chapter 10 in ''The Grapes of Wrath'' covers the final preparations for the trip to California, including decisions about taking along Casy, whether the animals should come, and which possessions must be left behind.

Conversations about California

Chapter 10 begins with Tom and Ma having a conversation about California. Ma expresses some concern that California might not be as great as everyone has told her it will be; she points out that when something sounds too perfect, there's often something wrong. As the conversation progresses, Ma begins to come around to the idea that their lives might change when they get to California, and starts to daydream about buying a white house. Tom warns her that he met a man from California who told him that there weren't enough jobs for all the people who were looking for them, but Ma thinks this is unlikely, citing the brochure she has seen which advertizes high-paying jobs.

Grampa's Vision of California

Grampa eventually joins the two of them, having overheard their conversation, and shares his fantasy for his life in California: 'I'm gonna pick me a wash tub full of grapes, an' I'm gonna set in 'em, an' scrooge around', an' let the juice run down my pants.' Grampa also talks about his longing to get back to work once they arrive in California.

Casy's Plan for California

Casy is the next to join the conversation; he asks if he can join the Joads on their journey. Ma says she'd be delighted, but that they'll have to discuss it with the men. Casy says that he longs to go to California to learn from people; he talks about listening to children sing and watching people work in the fields, and generally paints a lovely picture of a vibrant society that exists out west.

The Truck Returns

The truck returns from the attempt to sell their belongings, and everyone is disappointed: They only got 18 dollars for all of it. The truck brings back Al, Pa, Ruthie, Winfield, Rose of Sharon (who is pregnant), and her husband, Connie. That night, the family has a meeting beside the truck to go over the details of their trip: they review how much money they have and share concerns about the car.

Debate about Casy

Tom tells them that Casy would like to travel to California with them, and they debate the issue. There is some concern that they haven't the money or food to support someone extra, and Pa is worried that they don't have the space. Ma reframes the issue, pointing out, 'It ain't kin we? It's will we?...As far as 'kin,' we can't do nothin', not go to California or nothin'; but as far as 'will,' why, we'll do what we will.' She goes on to say that it's never been their way to refuse food or shelter to anyone in need. In the end, the family chooses to take Casy with them.

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