The Grapes of Wrath Chapters 22 - 24 Summary

In the middle of the night the Joad family found the Weedpatch camp, this is a government camp for the migrant workers. Luckily there is an opening in the camp for new campers, so they park their truck in Number Four Sanitary Unit. The night watchman is kind to them and tells them that staying at the camp costs a dollar a week, but if a family does not have any money they can work off the dollar. The camp has running hot and cold water, indoor plumbing, and no police are allowed into the camp. These are all very appealing attributes to the Joads, especially the fact the police cannot come in and harass the people living there.

The next morning Tom, who is up before the rest of the family, meets Timothy Wallace and his son Wilkie. They are living in the camp with a woman who has a small baby, but more importantly they have jobs. After allowing Tom to share their breakfast, they offer to help him get hired on at their job. The man who owns the farm is called Mr. Thomas, he is kind to Tim and Wilkie and he pays them thirty cents an hour. Mr. Thomas is in a bad mood this morning, because he went to a Farmers' Association meeting the night before and was told he could only pay his men twenty-five cents an hour. He was told if he paid his men more than the other farmer this would cause unrest, so if he wants to receive any more farm loans he had better pay what the others are paying. This is all because the Farmers' Association is run by The Bank of the West and they do not want the migrant workers to organize for better wages and working conditions.

Mr. Thomas also warns Timothy, who is on the Central Committee at the camp, of the plans of the Farmers' Association to instigate a fight at the camp's Saturday night dance. The Central Committee is the governing body for the camp, they make and enforce the rules. The Farmers' Association doesn't like the rule of no police being allowed on the grounds. They feel if a fight breaks out and the deputies are at the fence of the camp, then the police would have a right to come in and break up the encampment. This way the migrant workers would be forced to live like the people in the Hooverville. The landowners feel this would keep the people down and willing to accept whatever wages they are given; they also hope it would prevent anyone from standing up to them to demand a decent day's wages.

Mr. Thomas does hire Tom on and Tom likes the work he does, which is digging ditches with the two other men. Meanwhile, Ma is visited by the Ladies Committee, who show her around the grounds telling her what the rules are and giving her options for the job she might participate in to help around the camp. Rosasharn is also visited by a woman who tells her the camp is full of sinners. She tells Roasasharn if she is a sinner her baby will be born dead. This terrifies her, so she tells her mother about the encounter. Her mother tells her the lady does not know what she is talking about.

Even though the men try, they cannot find work. They hope the other men at the camp can tell them where to find work.

The people of the camp, to help themselves from becoming too depressed by their circumstance find ways to amuse themselves, they tell jokes and stories, go to the movies, play instruments, dance, and go to revival meetings. These activities help to divert their minds from the daily fear of starvation and the fear of not being able to find work.

It is the Saturday of the dance and the Central Committee is ready for the troublemakers. Since they have been warned, plans have been put in place to keep an eye on any suspected rabble rousers. Sure enough three young men come through the gate, who do not look like the rest of the people coming to the dance. The people who had been asked to attend are excited and happy to be there. These men have a somber air about them, they do not have the appearance of someone who is looking to have a good time dancing. Tom and Jule Vitela are on watch at the main gate, it is Jule who spots the men. Tom informs Willie, who is in charge of the entertainment committee, they think they have spotted the trouble makers. The three men tell the person at the gate that Jackson in Unit 4 has invited them to the dance. Jackson tells Willie he did not invite the men, but he has in the past worked with those guys.

After the first square dance, the men make their move by trying to take other men's dance partners. The men in the camp swarm the three men and move them off the dance floor. A whistle goes off as the men make their move and the police pull up claiming there is a riot in the camp. But the musicians are playing and the square dance is proceeding as usual. So the police have to retreat from the camp gates. The men will not tell Ezra Huston, chairman of the Central Committee, who paid them to cause trouble. For now the trouble has been averted and the camp is still at peace.

The Joads find a temporary home in a government camp and Tom has found some work. Tom and the others in the camp have averted some trouble with the law. This is a time of some peace for the Joad family.

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