40 pages 1 hour read

John Steinbeck

Travels With Charley

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1962

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Part 4, Chapters 21-26Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapters 21-26 Summary

Although Steinbeck wants to avoid Texas, he knows that because of its size and his family connections there, he’s obligated to pass through the state. He’s waylaid in Amarillo by a broken windshield and another vet trip for Charley, who this time is kept for a longer time and receives effective medications as part of his treatment. He writes at length about the outsized shadow that Texas casts over the world—how despite being part of the US, it’s largely a nation of its own. He meets up with his wife at a rich friend’s house for Thanksgiving, which he describes as an “orgy.” The visitors drink whiskey, go hunting and fishing, eat multiple turkeys, and discuss their horses. The hosts aren’t particularly conspicuous about their wealth, which Steinbeck sees as a sign that they’re so wealthy they don’t have to be.

Next, Steinbeck heads for Louisiana. At the time, the civil rights movement was in full swing in the South. Although visiting the area makes him uneasy, he wants to see the spectacle surrounding the integration of a New Orleans school: A mob of racists convenes at the school every day to harass its first Black student and her supporters.