45 pages 1 hour read

John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1939

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Chapters 14-17Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 14 Summary

Steinbeck discusses the social impact of the migration of thousands of ex-farmers from places like Oklahoma to California. It causes nervousness on the part of the “great owners” (156). This is because the shared plight of the migrants leads to greater labor unity and, through shared struggle, a collective vision for society’s future. This is what Steinbeck calls the movement “from ‘I’ to ‘we’” (158). It is a sense that the land and the tractors can be held by people in common, not owned by companies or individuals. Yet the private owners, he argues, cannot understand this. These owners keep the workers permanently locked into the individualistic perspective of the “I.”

Chapter 15 Summary

This chapter describes a typical café on the side of Highway 66, “Al and Susy’s Place” (159). Al is the cook, and a woman named Mae takes customer orders. On the road by the café a wealthy couple approach. The woman is artificial. She carries around “a thousand accoutrements” (161), including “pills, powders, jellies, to make their sexual intercourse safe, odorless, and unproductive” (161). Meanwhile, her husband is weary and worried, although he pretends that his life is happy and fulfilling. They stop to buy a bottled soda.