The story opens with Tom Joad hitchhiking on his way home to his family’s farm after serving a short prison term. He gets a ride from a trucker who sneaks him on even though it is against the rules. The trucker realizes that Tom has just been released from prison and begins to question him. Tom doesnt have a problem telling what he has done and they get into a lengthy conversation. The trucker told Tom that people have been moving away from this area because the developers were moving in. Tom realizes that and thought that his family might have left, but he then figures that they would wait for him.
As Tom gets dropped off, he walks the rest of the way to his familys farm. On the way to the farm he meets Casy. Casy is the preacher who baptized him. Tom convinces Casy to walk with him and they head towards town. As they approach the area they realize that there is no one there. All of the houses are empty and the place looks deserted. They meet Muley, who tells them that the developers came through and kicked everyone off the land. He said that he stayed even though his family left because he can’t imagine living anywhere else. The three men spend the night together.
The next morning they start walking to Tom’s uncle’s house where Muley has told him his family is. When they arrive at Uncle John’s house Tom’s family is very happy to see him. There is hugging and talking before they get back to the seriousness of there problems. They discuss the condition of the used truck that they bought as well as how much money they have. Tom’s grandfather is worried about leaving. He says that he wants to because there are many opportunities out. Tom convinces them that they can afford to bring Casy along with them and they even offer to bring Muley but he says that he will never leave the valley.
Muley tells them that if they see his family to tell them that he is okay. The Joads make some food for the trip and load up the truck. They all get into the truck and wave good-bye to Muley. They are on their way to California. On their way there they stop a few times to find water and food. Finally they find a place where they can stop and camp. At the campsite they meet the Wilsons. Mrs. Wilson is sick but she is very generous. While at the campsite Grandpa dies. Sairy is very helpful and she evens help them to prepare him for burial. This whole incident upsets Grandma who becomes weaker and less alive.
After a while, the Joads and the Wilsons decide to join up and travel to California together. The Wilsons have a car and they decide that by taking some people from the truck they will be able to move faster. During the trip Grandma dies from a broken heart. Eventually Sairy becomes too ill to go on and the Wilsons and the Joads part. Soon the Joads begin to suspect that maybe California is not as great as everyone made it sound. They meet more travelers who tell them of the hard times and little money that they found. They said that the people of California do not want them there and take advantage of them.
While the Joads were at one campsite they meet a depressing group of people. At the same campsite a deputy arrives and begins to give them grief. Tom gets in a fight with the deputy. The Joads meet a woman by the name of Rosasharn and they realize that her husband Connie has left her. Rosasharn is pregnant and cries that Connie shouldn’t have left her after all that he has promised her. The Joads, minus Grandma and Grandpa go along on their adventure. They find another campsite to stay at. The camp had working bathrooms, warm water and their own government. They enjoyed living there.
The people had dances and all helped each other if they could. It only cost a dollar each week to camp there but the Joads had no work and soon were basically starv….. ing to stay there. The Joads set up camp and went out looking for work. They decide that they will have to go north to find work. They regretfully leave the camp with Rosasharon scared that her baby may not survive. They finally find a place to work picking peaches but the pay isn’t good. Before they can earn any money they need to fill a whole box. They also find a cabin in which to live in but it is small and dirty.
The people that used to work at the fruit grove left when the rate of pay dropped from five cents a box to two and a half cents. Soon, all the peaches were picked, and once again the Joads set out. Luckily, they happened get some work picking cotton. While they camped with other migrants in abandoned boxcars along a stream, Tom, still-hunted by the law, stayed a few miles down the road in a clump of trees. At last the Joads were making enough money to eat properly. Then the youngest girl, Ruthie, made a mistake: during a fight with another girl, she threatened to get her big brother, who had “already kil’t two fellas.
” That evening, Ma took Tom his dinner, told him about Ruthie’s words, slipped him seven dollars that she had saved, and urged him to leave – for his own and the family’s sake. Tom hugged Ma and promised he would carry on Casy’s work of improving the worker’s plight. When the cotton picking ended, the Joads remained in the boxcar; winter was approaching, along with the birth of Rosasharons baby. The money was nearly gone and hunger and hopelessness grew. In the middle of the heavy rainfall, Rosasharon finally gave birth to a stillborn son.
As the stream flowed into a thundering river, water began entering the boxcar. The soaked, frantic and disorderly family ran for higher ground. Finally they found shelter in an old barn. Inside they meet a young boy tending his sickly father. The boy begs them to help him find milk for his father. They tell him that they don’t have anything and they can’t think of what to do. Much to their dismay they thought of Rosasharon. Mourning over the loss of her baby, Rosasharon went over to the sick man, bared her breast, and nourished him with her milk. It was all she had.