Tom Joad: A Story Overview in John Steinbeck’s Novel, The Grapes of Wrath

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Last Updated: 26-Jun-23
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This story opens with Tom Joad returning home after serving time in prison for murder. He "catches" a ride with a trucker who sneaks him on even though it is against the rules. Tom is dressed head to toe in new clothes. The trucker immediately realizes that Tom has just been released from prison and begins to question him. Tom has no problem speaking of what he has done and the driver enters into a lengthy conversation with him about life. He says that people have been moving away from this area in swarms because the developers are moving in. Tom realizes that his family might have left but he then figures that they would wait for him. Tom parts from the trucker and begins the walk to his house. On the way he meets Casy. Casy is the preacher that had always lived around those parts and he was friendly with Tom and his family.

He convinces Casy to walk with him and they head towards the "town". As they approach the area they realize that there is no one there. All of the houses are empty and the place looks generally dead. They meet Muley, an old character who refused to leave his home. He 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 feasting on rabbit. The owners of the land come by but the three men manage to hide. The next morning the start the eight mile walk 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 though because there are many opportunities and they will be able to pick fruit whenever they want to. 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 climb on and wave good-bye to Muley. They are on there way to California.