The Grapes of Wrath Chapter 13 Summary

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.

Chapter 13 of 'The Grapes of Wrath' has a few really important events - including two deaths and discussions of a birth. In this lesson we will take a look at some of the important highlights from the chapter.

On the Road Again

Chapter 13 finds us back on the road with Al Joad and his family. Al pays attention to the car with every fiber of his being. He has ''become the soul of the car.'' In other words, all of his senses are tuned into the vehicle so that he can be ready if something goes wrong. He takes a break from this obsession just long enough to ask Ma if she is afraid of their new lives. She tells him that she isn't worried. She explains that worrying just forces you to live extra lives that cannot be predicted.

The Service Station

When Granma has to go to the bathroom they pull over and take a break. They decide to much on the remnants of pork bones. As they are eating, the realize they left their water jug behind at the last stop. When they stop at the next service station for gas and water, the worker complains about the migrants and keeps asking what the country's coming to. He asks a total of 10 times, and tells a story about how a migrant had no money and traded his shoes for a gallon of gas. Tom snaps at the gas station owner and tells him that soon enough he will be on the move since there are fancy company-owned stations crowding in. The owner admits that he has been planning to move out West.

A Look to the Future and an Untimely Death

While the men finish up their chat about what the world is coming to, Connie and Rose of Sharon hang out by the gas station's water house and dream about their future together. They talk about how life will be once their baby is born. ''The world had drawn close around them, and they were in the center of it, or rather Rose of Sharon was in the center of it with Connie making a small orbit about her.'' In other words, they are in their own world. Just before everyone gets into the car, tragedy strikes--their dog gets hit by a truck. Al comments that maybe it was for better since he wasn't sure how he was going to feed him.

Camping and Another Loss

When they get back on the road, Ma expresses concern over the fact that Tom broke parole by crossing the state line. Tom tells her not to worry and that as long as he doesn't break the law, no one will bother him. They continue driving until they decided to camp for the night. When they see a man pulled over with his tent, they stop and ask if they camp with him. He agrees and the families introduce themselves: the couple is Ivy and Sairy Wilson.

Sairy invites Grampa to lie down in her tent and rest. Grampa lies down in her tent, but he doesn't seem to be resting. It turns out he is having a stroke, and after a mercifully short struggle, he dies. They don't have the time or money to bury him properly, so they wrap him in a quilt and bury him near the road. They also write a note to explain what happened and put it inside a bottle and bury it with him.

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