33 pages 1 hour read

John Steinbeck

The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath

Nonfiction | Essay Collection | Adult | Published in 1936

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Article 4Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Article 4 Summary

Steinbeck next dove into discussion of the two official migrant camps that the federal government had established in California, though it planned to build eight more. The government offered basic facilities such as showers, toilets, an administrative office, and a simple recreation center. There was clean water and toilet paper. A resident manager remained on-site. Instead of paying rent, migrant families committed to helping maintain the camp at least two hours a week. A women’s organization known as Good Neighbors sewed clothing and quilts for community members and maintained a children’s nursery so that their mothers could work in the fields while their children were looked after. Members of the Good Neighbors greeted new arrivals to the camp. Steinbeck cited from a manager’s report on a new camp family that arrived with little food and filthy belongings: “The Good Neighbors at once took the family in hand, and by 10 o’clock they were fed, washed, camped, settled and asleep” (42). 


There were no outside police, as the community policed itself by offering punishments—like restricting access to the community dances—for mild infractions and then recommending a camper be removed for more serious violations. None of the campers were receiving government aid, so although the federal government spent approximately $18,000 constructing the camp, it spent comparatively little once the camp was set up.