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The Grapes of Wrath: Chapters 6-8 May 4, 2007

Posted by Michelle in Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
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How do you feel about Willy (the deputy sheriff) or Joe Davis’s boy (the man plowing the fields) staying and working the law and the land when that means they are pushing their friends and neighbors out? Is it justified? What would you do if you were in their position?

Tom confesses that if in the same situation, he would kill again. Does that cause you to think differently about prison or our reform system? Do you think Tom was justified in killing his friend?

Has anyone ever bought a car and had it NOT feel like it did when you read Chapter 7? πŸ˜‰

Do you have any initial thoughts on the family? Have you noticed any interesting dynamics or personalities already?

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1. Bethany - May 7, 2007

Whew you are flying. I am coming. I am done with chapter 6 and Aaron has band practice tonight so I will get a bunch of reading in. HEE HEE

2. Heather - May 8, 2007

Regarding personalities:

Muley is sort of a sad case to me; initially he comes across as this tough, mad-at-the-corporate-world guy who is going to stay behind and fight for his land: ” I tell ya, me, I’m stayin’. They ain’t gettin’ rid a me. If they throw me off, I’ll come back, an’ if they figger I’ll be quiet underground, why, I’ll take a couple-three of [them] along for company. I ain’t a-goin’.” p. 47 Then we find out he’s really more talk than anything, because he’s not standing his ground at his old home, he’s just wandering around, trying to keep one step ahead of the law, hiding out in caves and dried up corn fields. But, at least he’s aware of the difference: “I was mean like a wolf. Now I’m mean like a weasel. When you’re huntin’ somepin you’re a hunter, an’ you’re strong. Can’t nobody beat a hunter. But when you get hunted — that’s different. Somepin happens to you. You ain’t strong; maybe you’re fierce, but you ain’t strong. I been hunted now for a long time. I ain’t a hunter no more. I’d maybe shoot a fella in the dark, but I don’t maul nobody with a fence stake no more. It don’t do no good to fool you or me. That’s how it is.” p. 57

Grampa and Granma crack me up! I love that mental picture we get of him storming across the yard trying to button up his union suit! πŸ™‚ I laughed out loud at this: “Once, after a meeting, while she was still speaking in tongues, she fired both barrels of a shotgun at her husband, ripping one of his buttocks nearly off, and after that he admired her and did not try to torture her as children torture bugs.” p. 78. I think the most hysterical interaction with them, though, is when Grampa is talking to Tom about how he stood up to Turnbull, the father of the man Tom killed: “An’ ol’ Turnbull, stinkin’ skumk, braggin’ how he’ll shoot ya when ya come out. Says he got Hatfield blood. Well, I sent word to him. I says, ‘Don’t mess around with no Joad. Maybe I got McCoy blood for all I know.’ I says, ‘You lay your sights anywheres near Tommy an’ I’ll take it an’ I’ll ram it up your a**,’ I says. Scairt ‘im, too.’ Granma, not following the conversation, bleated, ‘Pu-raise Gawd fur vittory.’ ” p. 79.

I love Ma. What a strong woman she is. She had a funny story, too, when she beat the tin peddler with the live chicken! As Tom said, “she ain’t nobody you can push aroun’, neither.” p. 48. I love the description of her in Chapter 8: “Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding. She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt and fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials. But better than joy was calm. Imperturbability could be depended upon. And from her great and humble position in the family she had taken dignity and a clean calm beauty. From her position as arbiter she had become as remote and faultless in judgment as a goddess. She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone.” p. 74 What a matriarch! Thinking about her character reminded me of my own Mom. Regardless of the difficult circumstances we might have found ourselves in, she was a rock of faith and trust in God. As a child, I don’t think I ever realized how difficult things were at times, mainly because of her calm in the midst of life’s storms. I can remember one time where I saw her with her guard down — we were away from home without my Dad, and staying with my Grandma. Mom had made the trip back to college with me after the summer. Late that night she’d gotten a phone call from my Dad, and had found out that he’d been unjustly accused and fired from his job. I happened to come upon her sobbing alone out on the porch. For me, it was the first time of ever being the comforter instead of the comfortee with her. At first I thought she was fearful of the future and it shook me, because like Ma, she was the family citadel! I soon discovered, though, that her tears and her emotions had more to do with the fact that she was so far away, and unable to be there to support her husband in that moment. I have always admired my mom for her quiet strength and her trust in God.

3. Heather - May 9, 2007

Michelle,

You are so right about the car-buying chapter! Ugh! πŸ™‚

4. bethany3boys - May 10, 2007

The car buying chapter…hilarious and so true. I didn’t enjoy reading that knowing that I need to go buy another car this month. HEE HEE

Heather you are right on Muley he is all talk. Loved all your summaries of the characters.

I think it must have been so hard for people then. Thinking about the Sheriff and the Man Plowing the fields…I am sure they didn’t want to leave and it must be so hard for them pushing their friends off….I don’t know if I could do that. But I do understand their feeling the need to worry about their own family and ultimately feeling that their responsibility to feed and care for them came above how they treated their neighbors and former friends. I don’t think I could do it though. I don’t think I could ever take a job that was like that….I don’t personally have the personality for it. I would probably be one to move and look for work somewhere else. But desperate times call for desperate measures so I couldn’t fault them and who knows if I was faced with that situation what I would do. I do know I would be pretty mad if a friend were pushing me off of my property and treating me that way though.

Regarding the whole Tom thing. It sounds like it was self defense….did he really mean to kill him or was he just protecting himself??? I know he says he would kill him again….but he was being attacked. I guess in his case he feels like if someone is going to come after him he is justified in his killing. I don’t think killing is right but in self defense…who can blame. I can see hoping one would feel a little remorse though.


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