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The Grapes of Wrath book cover

The Grapes of Wrath Quotes

There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do.
And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.
It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.
...and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.
Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother.
Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes it'll on'y be one.
Muscles aching to work, minds aching to create - this is man.
A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.
If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in 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.
She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build laughter out of inadequate materials....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.
Sure, cried the tenant men,but it’s our land…We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours….That’s what makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it." "We’re sorry. It’s not us. It’s the monster. The bank isn’t like a man." "Yes, but the bank is only made of men." "No, you’re wrong there—quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.
Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor.
I'm jus' pain covered with skin.
Man, he lives in jerks-baby born an’ a man dies, an’ that’s a jerk-gets a farm and looses his farm, an’ that’s a jerk. Woman, its all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that. We ain’t gonna die out. People is goin’ on-changin’ a little, maybe, but goin’ right on.
And this you can know- fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.
This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning—from "I" to "we". If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I", and cuts you off forever from the "we".
Then it don' matter. Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where - wherever you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an' - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build, why, I'll be there.
Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, and emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
The bank - the monster has to have profits all the time. It can't wait. It'll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can't stay one size.
If you're in trouble or hurt or need–go to poor people. They're the only ones that'll help–the only ones.
They's times when how you feel got to be kep' to yourself.
Whenever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Whenever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there . . . . I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'-I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build-why, I'll be there." Tom Joad.
There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success.
Yes, you should talk," he said. "Sometimes a sad man can talk the sadness right out through his mouth. Sometimes a killin' man can talk the murder right out of his mouth.
He drank too much when he could get it, ate too much when it was there, talked too much all the time.
Before I knowed it, I was saying out loud, 'The hell with it! There ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain't nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say.
Why, Tom - us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people - we go on.' 'We take a beatin' all the time.' 'I know.' Ma chuckled. 'Maybe that makes us tough. Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good, an' they die out. But, Tom, we keep a-comin'. Don' you fret none, Tom. A different time's comin'.
This you may say of man - when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back.
I nearly always write just as I nearly always breathe.
But you can't start. Only a baby can start. You and me - why, we're all that's been. The anger of a moment, the thousand pictures, that's us. This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us. We can't start again.
Two are better than one,because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lif' up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up.
You're buying years of work, toil in the sun; you're buying a sorrow that can't talk.
The fields were fruitful, and starving men moved on the roads.
Ain't you thinkin' what's it gonna be like when we get there? Ain't you scared it won't be nice like we thought? No, she said quickly. No, I ain't. You can't do that. I can't do that. It's too much - livin' too many lives. Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes, it'll on'y be one.
Tell 'em to God. Don' go burdenin' other people with your sins. That ain't decent.
The clouds appeared and went away, and in a while they did not try anymore.
The break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath.
Then it don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too. - Tom Joad.
Maybe there ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue, they's just what people does. Some things folks do is nice and some ain't so nice, and that's all any man's got a right to say.
I know, Ma. I'm a-tryin'. But them deputies- Did you ever see a deputy that didn't have a fat ass? An' they waggle their ass an' flop their gun aroun'. Ma", he said, "if it was the law they was workin' with, why we could take it. But it ain't the law. They're a-working away at our spirits. They're a-tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They're tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're working on our decency".
Men who have created new fruits in the world cannot create a system whereby those fruits may be eaten.
The people in flight from the terror behind-strange things happen to them, some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever.
The women watched the men, watched to see whether the break had come at last. The women stood silently and watched. And where a number of men gathered together, the fear went from their faces, and anger took its place. And the women sighed with relief, for they knew it was all right - the break had not come; and the break would never come as long as fear could turn to wrath.
Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there?.
I shall tell them this story against the background of the county I grew up in and along the river I know and do not love very much. For I have discovered that there are other rivers.
And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.
I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.
Our people are good people, our people are kind people. Pray God someday kind people won't all be poor. Pray God someday a kid can eat. And the associations of owners know that some day the praying would stop. And there's the end.
Man, he lives in the jerks-- baby born an' a man dies, an' that's a jerk-- gets a farm an' loses his farm, an' that's a jerk. Woman, it's all one flow, like a stream, little eddies, little waterfalls, but the river, it goes right on. Woman looks at it like that. We ain't gonna die out. People is goin' on-- changin' a little, maybe, but goin' right on.
Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole.
He held the apple box against his chest. And then he leaned over and set the box in the stream and steadied it with his hand. He said fiercely, "Go down an' tell 'em. Go down in the street an' rot an' tell 'em that way. That's the way you can talk. Don' even know if you was a boy or a girl. Ain't gonna find out. Go on down now, an' lay in the street. Maybe they'll know then.
I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.
The last clear definite function of men—muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need—this is man.
Fella says today, 'Depression is over. I seen a jackrabbit, an' they wasn't nobody after him.' An' another fella says, 'That aint the reason. Can't afford to kill jackrabbits no more. Catch 'em and milk 'em an' turn 'em loose. One you seen prob'ly gone dry.