The Grapes of Wrath Chapters 25 - 26 Summary

The fruit which has grown all spring and is ready to be picked, cannot be picked because of the low prices being paid to the farmers. The farmers need to earn more for their product if they are going to have a profit, after paying the expenses of growing and picking the fruit. Because they cannot receive a profit from the fruit it is allowed to rot or is thrown away. Unfortunately, for the starving people in California they are not allowed to pick up and feed their families the spoiling fruit and vegetables. Instead they are kept away, because if they can pick the food for free, then what incentive would they have to buy it. This causes a great deal of unrest among the poor, because they need the food to feed their starving families.

The Joads are a part of the families who don't have enough food to eat. Winfield and Rosasharn both need milk and good food. Winfield is starting to suffer the effects of malnutrition and Rosasharn needs milk to drink in order to keep her unborn baby healthy. The family decides it is time to move on from the government camp.

One of the truck tires has a nail puncture, necessitating the family to stop to patch the hole. As they are just about to move on a man in a new car stops alongside the road, he asks them if they have ever picked peaches before. They readily agree to work for the man, so he gives them directions to a peach farm, which is about 42 miles away. Suddenly the family starts to have hope, they look forward to eating some meat, drinking coffee with sugar, and getting some milk for Rosasharn.

As they reach the farm they see the road is blocked with police cars. They think a car wreck has occurred on the farm road, but instead they are approached by a State policeman who asks them where they are going. Once he finds out they are there to work he puts them into a line of other cars waiting to enter the peach farm. On the sides of the road they can see people yelling and shaking their fists at them, which makes the Joads even more curious about what is going on. They are assigned a house and told they can start work right away. The pay is five cents a box, but the fruit must not be bruised or else they will not get paid for it.

At first the men pick quickly and throw the peaches into the box, but after having those boxes turned down for having too many bruised fruit, they pick the peaches slower. The whole family except for Rosasharn helps with the picking, which ensures they are paid for all the boxes they pick, because the children put the fruit into the boxes and make sure they do not bruise the fruit. They manage to make a dollar by supper time. Ma Joad takes the credit slip for a dollar to the farm store, because she is planning to buy some meat, coffee, sugar, potatoes, and bread for the family. She soon learns the store, which is owned by the landowner, has higher prices than the town store, so her dollar does not buy as much meat and other food as she had hoped. The store clerk's constant refrain to her complaints about the high prices, is she can use her gas to go into town and buy the food more cheaply. He knows she cannot afford to use the gas and she, along with the others who live on the farm, have to buy from him.

After supper Tom decides to walk out to the road to see what all the commotion was about. He is turned back by an armed guard as he walks down the main street of the farm camp. He finds a way to slip out underneath the fence that encircles the farm. Once out he sees a tent and approaches it, he is surprised to see Jim Casy inside the tent. Jim tells him that he and a few other men are leading a strike against the farm owner, because he starts out paying five cents a box and then cuts the pay to two and a half cents a box. This is not enough money to feed a family, so the men decide to take a stand against the farm owner. Jim learned from his time in jail that if enough people stand together change can occur.

While they are talking the men hear people moving around outside the tent. They try to escape, but are caught and Casy is bludgeoned to death by one of the strike breakers. Tom is enraged by this and he bludgeons to death the person who attacked Casy. Tom is also beaten up by these men. He sneaks back to the house, but he has to tell the family about what has happened. They decide to work the next day, but Tom stays in the house so no one can see his injuries. Ma and Pa have heard the others talking about a posse looking to lynch the man who killed the strike breaker. They decide to leave the farm that night. They manage to get by the guards and as they drive they see some railroad cars which have been converted for use by cotton pickers. The family is going to try to get jobs there and Tom is going to hide out in the brush until his wounds heal.

The family in their quest to find work stumble upon a strike being led by Casy. He is killed by a strike breaker and Tom in turn kills the strike breaker. The family has to leave the peach farm and try to hide Tom in order to save his life. The situation seems to be going from bad to worse for the Joad family.

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