And now, MA STAYED UP ON THE MATTRESS ALL NIGHT WITH GRANMA'S CORPSE SO THE FAMILY COULD GET TO CALIFORNIA?
"The family looked at Ma with a little terror at her strength."Everyone realises how amazing Ma is to have done that, and respects her so much for it. And also for that time when she threatened to beat everyone up with a bit of metal, which was pretty badass.
*Tries to get a handle on all the rest of the journey* Shall we make a little note of who we've gained and lost? So Granma and Grampa are both dead, which I think is a huge loss because how funny were they?! But it's ok, because "'They was too old... They wouldn't have saw nothin' that's here.'" But I'm still sad.
Anyway. Getting away from the sads, may I give you some anger instead? As I am whenever I read this book, I'm FURIOUS at the way some people can treat other people. It's not just that the rich just keep all their wealth to themselves and couldn't care less about anyone else (capitalism, I'm looking at you) but that the system is such that, if people (and that's 'the majority of' people) tried to change the system and make it better for the majority, they're going to get slapped down by the government, or, you know, the rich. This is something that comes up more and more as the book progresses, but I think it's worth noting now that Steinbeck seems to be fairly hopeful that things could change, which is why he has Casy around, but as we all know, from, you know, the fifties, the people with all the everything (money, power) would do anything to make sure it all stays the same.
And it's still happening today, and that's why this book is still relevant, and why I'm STILL angry.
So there's that, and there's also this attitude about money that's kind of interesting, in that, the Joads have literally none, and they want to make more, but what little they have, they will share with other people (like the Wilsons) because they know that it's people that matter, and not money. This is true of all the people who are travelling to California, and differs only amongst the poor people coming back from California, who also think that people are more important, BUT know that you can't live without money. And then you've got the people with jobs and homes, who aren't rich but don't know what it's like to be that poor, and because they don't want to find out, they develop a hatred and a lack of understanding for those people who have nothing:
"Them goddamn Okies got no sense and no feeling. They ain't human. A human being wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand it to be so dirty and miserable. They ain't a hell of a lot better than gorillas... They're so goddamn dumb they don't know it's dangerous. And, Christ Almighty, they don't know any better than what they got.'"
"'Fella havin' fun, he don't give a damn [about dying]; but a fella mean an' lonely an' old an' disappointed- he's scared of dyin... If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, there ain't no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an' maybe he's disappointed that nothin' he can do'll make him feel rich.'"Which is all very well and good, but there are people dying, and he doesn't give a crap, so I'm not exactly going to feel sorry for his inner poverty. But anyway, this reminds me of two things:
1) This conversation I had with my friend Frances where we both said that, if we were rich, we wouldn't just want to keep all the money we had because it would kind of make us feel like crap and so we'd, you know, redistribute the wealth, and also if I had a company, I'd redistribute the profits around more evenly, improving the workers lives, because, you know, people are more important than profits.
There's probably a reason we're both poor, but anyway, I think this is kind of what Steinbeck's driving at here.
2) There's this bit in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this reminds me of, where the incredibly rich Big Daddy essentially admits that wealth is useless because everyone's got to die and there's kind of nothing you can do about it. I don't really know why this is relevant, except that it's nice having a rich person in literature admitting that money is kind of useless, apart from the things you can do with it. Which can make it the most useful thing (and give you inner wealth. You know.)
I'm going to have to stop before I try and get us to form a gang and start a revolution, but first, a couple of Joad handy household hints:
1) Submitted by Tom: If your hand starts bleeding, you can't go wrong with rubbing a little bit of wee and mud on it. Works a treat!
2) Submitted by Ma: "'Take your breath in when you need it, an' let it go when you need to.'"