The Grapes of Wrath Quotes: Unity & Togetherness

Instructor: Catherine Smith

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

Unity and togetherness are key themes in 'The Grapes of Wrath' both on the level of family and friendship and also on the larger scale of class - there are frequent discussions about the migrants organizing against the landowners. This lesson looks at some of the key quotes about these themes.

Family Unity

While there are several levels of unity and togetherness in The Grapes of Wrath, much of the work is focused on family unity, particularly with respect to the Joads. Although one of the Joads will occasionally suggest that they divide up to find work and be efficient in their efforts, Ma always forbids this. She argues in Chapter 16:

''The money we'd make wouldn't do no good... All we got is the family unbroken. Like a bunch a cows, when the lobos are ranging, stick all together. I ain't scared while we're all here, all that's alive, but I ain't gonna see us bust up.''

She wins this debate, as she wins all similar debates throughout the book. By the end of the book it is clear that Ma is the cornerstone of the Joad family and the glue that binds them together.

Togetherness in Migrant Families

After the immediate family, the next level of togetherness is among the various migrant families. Since the migrants were all more or less in the same boat, having left their homes behind for a new, unknown place, they learn early on that they should stick together. Whether it's in unofficial camps that develop near work sites or at government camps, the families care for each other and often share what little they have. In Chapter 17 we read:

''And because they were lonely and perplexed, because they had all come from a place of sadness and worry and defeat, and because they were all going to a new mysterious place, they huddled together; they talked together; they shared their lives, their food, and the things they hoped for in the new country.''

This quote underscores the value of togetherness in the face of loneliness and the unknown. Although the migrants have very little to share, they understand innately that they are stronger as a group than they would be if they went into their new, uncharted lives on their own.

Unity in Organizing

This concept of unity among the migrants quickly turns into conversations about organizing officially. There are frequent talks throughout The Grapes of Wrath about how much more power the migrant workers would have if they could manage to organize together and attain bargaining power. It is clear to many of the workers that the system is set up to prevent them from doing this; they discuss this in Chapter 22, once the Joads have moved into the government camp, where migrants are able to live in a more civilized fashion. Timothy, a man Tom has met in the camp, tries to explain to Tom why the deputies occasionally pick fights with the workers who live in the camp:

''They're scairt we'll organize, I guess. An' maybe they're right. This here camp is a organization. People there look out for theirselves. Got the nicest strang band in these parts. Got a little charge account in the store for folks that's hungry.... We ain't never had no trouble with the law. I guess the big farmers is scairt of that. Can't throw us in jail - why, it scares 'em. Figger maybe if we can gove'n ourselves, maybe we'll do other things.'~

Timothy sees the connection between the migrants working together organically and the potential to develop real power against the forces that are keeping them down. And he suspects, correctly, that the big farmers do, too - by the end of the book it is clear that they will stop at nothing to prevent the migrants from successfully organizing.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account