45 pages 1 hour read

John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1939

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Chapters 1-5Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

The author describes the effects of a dust storm in rural 1930s Oklahoma. Precipitated in part by the absence of rain, strong winds on the open plains lift the dry topsoil from the land and cause it to mix in large quantities with the air. The dust then takes days to settle. The storm makes the sun appear “as red as ripe new blood” (5) in the day and blocks out the stars at night. It causes a film of dust to get on everything, even when houses are tightly sealed. More importantly, for the farmers it uproots and ruins a large amount of the corn crop that had just started growing. After the storm, the men come from their houses and reflect on the devastation. The women come out and observe their men, wondering whether they will be able to keep their strength and composure through this.

Chapter 2 Summary

Tom Joad is the protagonist of The Grapes of Wrath. Dressed in new clothes, he waits beside a truck that is stopped by a roadside café. When the driver returns to his vehicle, Tom asks for a lift. Despite the sign on the windshield that states, “No riders” (9), the truck driver agrees.