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American Literature books summary

room and stays with her until she dies.

The doctor offers to drive him back to the hotel, but Henry declines.

He goes back into the room and tries to say good-bye to Catherine, but says

that it was like saying good-bye to a statue. He leaves the hospital and

walks back to his hotel in the rain


Frederic Henry - The novel's protagonist. A young American ambulance

driver in the Italian army during the First World War, Henry is disciplined

and courageous, but feels detached from life. When introduced to Catherine

Barkley, Henry discovers a capacity for love he had not known he possessed,

and begins a process of development that culminates with his desertion of

the Italian army. Throughout the novel, the Italian soldiers under Henry's

command call him "Tenente"--the Italian word for "lieutenant."

Catherine Barkley - An English nurse who falls in love with Frederic Henry.

Catherine's fiancee was killed in the battle of the Somme before she met

Henry. Catherine has cast aside conventional social values, and lives

according to her own values, devoting herself wholly to her love for Henry.

Her long, beautiful hair is her most distinctive physical feature.

Rinaldi - Frederic's friend, an Italian surgeon. Mischievous and wry,

Rinaldi is nevertheless a passionate and skilled doctor. Rinaldi makes a

practice of always being in love with a beautiful woman, and at the

beginning of the novel is attracted to Catherine Barkley; Rinaldi's

infatuation causes him to introduce Frederic and Catherine to one another.

Helen Ferguson - A friend of Catherine's. Though she remains fond of the

lovers and helps them, Helen is much more committed to social convention

than Henry and Catherine; she vocally disapproves of their "immoral" love


Miss Gage - An American nurse. Miss Gage becomes a friend to both Catherine

and Henry--in fact, she may be in love with Henry. Unlike Helen Ferguson,

she sets aside conventional social values to support their love affair.

Miss Van Campen - The superintendent of nurses at the American hospital

where Catherine works. Miss Van Campen is strict, cold, and unlikable; she

is obsessed with rules and regulations and has no patience for or interest

in individual feelings.

Dr. Valentini - An Italian surgeon who comes to the American hospital. Self-

assured and confident, Dr. Valentini is also a highly talented surgeon.

Frederic Henry takes an immediate liking to him.

Count Greffi - A spry ninety-four year old nobleman. Henry knows Count

Greffi from his time in Stresa, and the two play billiards together toward

the end of the novel. Despite his advanced age, the count is intelligent,

disciplined, and fully committed to life.

The Grapes of Wrath

Full Summary

Chapter One: Steinbeck begins the novel with a description of the dust bowl

climate of Oklahoma. The dust was so thick that men and women had to remain

in their houses, and when they had to leave they tied handkerchiefs over

their faces and wore goggles to protect their eyes. After the wind had

stopped, an even blanket of dust covered the earth. The corn crop was

ruined. Everybody wondered what they would do. The women and children knew

that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole, but the

men had not yet figured out what to do.

Chapter Two: A man approaches a small diner where a large red transport

truck is parked. The man is under thirty, with dark brown eyes and high

cheekbones. He wore new clothes that don't quite fit. The truck driver

exits from the diner and the man asks him for a ride, despite the "No

Riders" sticker on the truck. The man claims that sometimes a guy will do a

good thing even when a rich bastard makes him carry a sticker, and the

driver, feeling trapped by the statement, lets the man have a ride. While

driving, the truck driver asks questions, and the man finally gives his

name, Tom Joad. The truck driver claims that guys do strange things when

they drive trucks, such as make up poetry, because of the loneliness of the

job. The truck driver claims that his experience driving has trained his

memory and that he can remember everything about a person he passes.

Realizing that the truck driver is pressing for information, Tom finally

admits that he had just been released from McAlester prison for homicide.

He had been sentenced to seven years and was released after only four, for

good behavior.

Chapter Three: At the side of the roadside, a turtle crawled, dragging his

shell over the grass. He came to the embankment at the road and, with great

effort, climbed onto the road. As the turtle attempts to cross the road, it

is nearby hit by a sedan. A truck swerves to hit the turtle, but its wheel

only strikes the edge of its shell and spins it back off the highway. The

turtle lays on its back, but finally pulls itself over.

Chapter Four: After getting out of the truck, Tom Joad begins walking home.

He sees the turtle of the previous chapter and picks it up. He stops in the

shade of a tree to rest and meets a man who sits there, singing "Jesus is

My Savior." The man, Jim Casy, had a long, bony frame and sharp features. A

former minister, he recognizes Tom immediately. He was a "Burning Busher"

who used to "howl out the name of Jesus to glory," but he lost the calling

because he has too many sinful ideas that seem sensible. Tom tells Casy

that he took the turtle for his little brother, and he replies that nobody

can keep a turtle, for they eventually just go off on their own. Casy

claims that he doesn't know where he's going now, and Tom tells him to lead

people, even if he doesn't know where to lead them. Casy tells Tom that

part of the reason he quit preaching was that he too often succumbed to

temptation, having sex with many of the girls he Њsaved.' Finally he

realized that perhaps what he was doing wasn't a sin, and there isn't

really sin or virtue there are simply things people do.

He realized he didn't Њknow Jesus,' he merely knew the stories of the

Bible. Tom tells Casy why he was in jail: he was at a dance drunk, and got

in a fight with a man. The man cut Tom with a knife, so he hit him over the

head with a shovel. Tom tells him that he was treated relatively well in

McAlester. He ate regularly, got clean clothes and bathed. He even tells

about how someone broke his parole to go back. Tom tells how his father

Њstole' their house. There was a family living there that moved away, so

his father, uncle and grandfather cut the house in two and dragged part of

it first, only to find that Wink Manley took the other half. They get to

the boundary fence of their property, and Tom tells him that they didn't

need a fence, but it gave Pa a feeling that their forty acres was forty

acres. Tom and Casy get to the house: something has happened nobody is


Chapter Five: This chapter describes the coming of the bank representatives

to evict the farmers. Some of the men were kind because they knew how cruel

their job was, while some were angry because they hated to be cruel, and

others were merely cold and hardened by their job. They are mostly pawns of

a system that they can merely obey. The tenant system has become untenable

for the banks, for one man on a tractor can take the place of a dozen

families. The farmers raise the possibility of armed insurrection, but what

would they fight against? They will be murderers if they stay, fighting

against the wrong targets.

Steinbeck describes the arrival of the tractors. They crawled over the

ground, cutting the earth like surgery and violating it like rape. The

tractor driver does his job simply out of necessity: he has to feed his

kids, even if it comes at the expense of dozens of families. Steinbeck

dramatizes a conversation between a truck driver and an evicted tenant

farmer. The farmer threatens to kill the driver, but even if he does so, he

will not stop the bank. Another driver will come. Even if the farmer

murders the president of the bank and board of directors, the bank is

controlled by the East. There is no effective target which could prevent

the evictions.

Chapter Six: Casy and Tom approached the Joad home. The house was mashed at

one corner and appeared deserted. Casy says that it looks like the arm of

the Lord had struck. Tom can tell that Ma isn't there, for she would have

never left the gate unhooked. They only see one resident (the cat), but Tom

wonders why the cat didn't go to find another family if his family had

moved, or why the neighbors hadn't taken the rest of the belongings in the

house. Muley Graves approaches, a short, lean old man with the truculent

look of an ornery child. Muley tells Tom that his mother was worrying about

him. His family was evicted, and had to move in with his Uncle John. They

were forced to chop cotton to make enough money to go west. Casy suggests

going west to pick grapes in California. Muley tells Tom and Casy that the

loss of the farm broke up his family his wife and kids went off to

California, while Muley chose to stay. He has been forced to eat wild game.

He muses about how angry he was when he was told he had to get off the

land. First he wanted to kill people, but then his family left and Muley

was left alone and wandering. He realized that he is used to the place,

even if he has to wander the land like a ghost. Tom tells them that he

can't go to California, for it would mean breaking parole. According to

Tom, prison has not changed him significantly. He thinks that if he saw

Herb Turnbull, the man he killed, coming after him with a knife again, he

would still hit him with the shovel. Tom tells them that there was a man in

McAlester that read a great deal about prisons and told him that they

started a long time ago and now cannot be stopped, despite the fact that

they do not actually rehabilitate people. Muley tells them that they have

to hide, for they are trespassing on the land. They have to hide in a cave

for the night.

Chapter Seven: The car dealership owners look at their customers. They

watch for weaknesses, such as a woman who wants an expensive car and can

push her husband into buying one. They attempt to make the customers feel

obliged. The proffts come from selling jalopies, not from new and

dependable cars. There are no guarantees, hidden costs and obvious flaws.

Chapter Eight: Tom and Casy reach Uncle John's farm. They remark that

Muley's lonely and covert lifestyle has obviously driven him insane.

According to Tom, his Uncle John is equally crazy, and wasn't expected to

live long, yet is older than his father. Still, he is tougher and meaner

than even Grampa, hardened by losing his young wife years ago. They see Pa

Joad fixing the truck. When he sees Tom, he assumes that he broke out of

jail. They go in the house and see Ma Joad, a heavy woman thick with child-

bearing and work. Her face was controlled and kindly. She worries that Tom

went mad in prison. This chapter also introduces Grampa and Granma Joad.

She is as tough as he is, once shooting her husband while she was speaking

in tongues. Noah Joad, Tom's older brother, is a strange man, slow and

withdrawn, with little pride and few urges. He may have been brain damaged

at childbirth. The family has dinner, and Casy says grace. He talks about

how Jesus went off into the wilderness alone, and how he did the same. Yet

what Casy concluded was that mankind was holy. Pa tells Tom about Al, his

sixteen-year old brother, who is concerned with little more than girls and

cars. He hasn't been at home at night for a week. His sister Rosasharn has

married Connie Rivers, and is several months pregnant. They have two

hundred dollars for their journey.

Chapter Nine: This chapter describes the process of selling belongings. The

items pile up in the yard, selling for ridiculously low prices. Whatever is

not sold must be burned, even items of sentimental value that simply cannot

be taken on the journey for lack of space.

Chapter Ten: Ma Joad tells Tom that she is concerned about going to

California, worried that it won't turn out well, for the only information

they have is from flyers they read. Casy asks to accompany them to

California. He wants to work in the fields, where he can listen to people

rather than preach to them. Tom says that preaching is a tone of voice and

a style, being good to people when they don't respond to it. Pa and Uncle

John return with the truck, and prepare to leave. The two children, twelve-

year old Ruthie and ten-year old Winfield are there with their older

sister, Rose of Sharon (Rosasharn) and her husband. They discuss how Tom

can't leave the state because of his parole. They have a family conference

that night and discuss a number of issues: they decide to allow Casy to go

with them, since it's the only right thing for them to do. They continue

with preparations, killing the pigs to have food to take with them. While

Casy helps out Ma Joad with food preparation, he remarks to Tom that she

looks tired, as if she is sick. Ma Joad looks through her belongings, going

through old letters and clippings she had saved. She has to place them in

the fire. Before they leave, Muley Graves stops to say goodbye. Noah tells

him that he's going to die out in the field if he stays, but Muley accepts

his fate. Grampa refuses to leave, so they decide to give him medicine that

will knock him out and take him with them.

Chapter Eleven: The houses were left vacant. Only the tractor sheds of

gleaming iron and silver were alive. Yet when the tractors are at rest the

life goes out of them. The work is easy and efficient, so easy that the

wonder goes out of the work and so efficient that the wonder goes out of

the land and the working of it. In the tractor man there grows the contempt

that comes to a stranger who has little understanding and no relation to

the land. The abandoned houses slowly fall apart.

Chapter Twelve: Highway 66 is the main migrant road stretching from the

Mississippi to Bakersfield, California. It is a road of flight for refugees

from the dust and shrinking land. The people streamed out on 66, possibly

breaking down in their undependable cars on the way. Yet the travelers face

obstacles. California is a big state, but not big enough to support all of

the workers who are coming. The border patrol can turn people back. The

high wages that are promised may be false.

Chapter Thirteen: The Joads continue on their travels. Al remarks that they

may have trouble getting over mountains in their car, which can barely

support its weight. Grampa Joad wakes up and insists that he's not going

with them. They stop at a gas station where the owner automatically assumes

they are broke, and tells them that people often stop, begging for gas. The

owner claims that fifty cars per day go west, but wonders what they expect

when they reach their destination. He tells how one family traded their

daughter's doll for some gas. Casy wonders what the nation is coming to,

since people seem unable to make a decent living. Casy says that he used to

use his energy to fight against the devil, believing that the devil was the

enemy. However, now he believes that there's something worse. The Joad's

dog wanders from the car and is run over in the road. They continue on

their journey and begin to worry when they reach the state line. However,

Tom reassures them that he is only in danger if he commits a crime.

Otherwise, nobody will know that he has broken his parole by leaving the

state. On their next stop for the night, the Joads meet the Wilsons, a

family from Kansas that is going to California. Grampa complains of

illness, and weeps. The family thinks that he may suffer a stroke. Granma

tells Casy to pray for Grampa, even if he is no longer a preacher. Suddenly

Grampa starts twitching and slumps. He dies. The Joads face a choice: they

can pay fifty dollars for a proper burial for him or have him buried a

pauper. They decide to bury Grampa themselves and leave a note so that

people don't assume he was murdered. The Wilsons help them bury Grampa.

They write a verse from scripture on the note on his grave. After burying

Grampa, they have Casy say a few words. The reactions to the death are

varied. Rose of Sharon comforts Granma, while Uncle John is curiously

unmoved by the turn of events. Casy admits that he knew Grampa was dying,

but didn't say anything because he couldn't have helped. He blames the

separation from the land for Grampa's death. The Joads and the Sairy Wilson

decide to help each other on the journey by spreading out the load between

their two cars so that both families will make it to California.

Chapter Fourteen: The Western States are nervous about the impending

changes, including the widening government, growing labor unity, and

strikes. However, they do not realize that these are results of change and

not causes of it. The cause is the hunger of the multitude. The danger that

they face is that the people's problems have moved from "I" to "we."

Chapter Fifteen: This chapter begins with a description of the hamburger

stands and diners on Route 66. The typical diner is run by a usually

irritated woman who nevertheless becomes friendly when truck drivers

consistent customers who can always pay enter. The more wealthy travelers

drop names and buy vanity products. The owners of the diners complain about

the migrating workers, who can't pay and often steal. A family comes in,

wanting to buy a loaf of bread. The one owner, Mae, tells them that they're

not a grocery store, but Al, the other, tells them to just sell the bread.

Mae sells the family candy for reduced prices. Mae and Al wonder what such

families will do once they reach California.

Chapter Sixteen: The Joads and the Wilsons continue on their travels. Rose

of Sharon discusses with her mother what they will do when they reach

California. She and Connie want to live in a town, where he can get a job

in a store or a factory. He wants to study at home, possibly taking a radio

correspondence course. There is a rattling in the Wilson's car, so Al is

forced to pull over. There are problems with the motor. Sairy Wilson tells

them that they should go on ahead without them, but Ma Joad refuses,

telling them that they are like family now and they won't desert them. Tom

says that he and Casy will stay with the truck if everyone goes on ahead.

They'll fix the car and then move on. Only Ma objects. She refuses to go,

for the only thing that they have left is each other and she will not break

up the family even momentarily. When everyone else objects to her, she even

picks up a jack handle and threatens them. Tom and Casy try to fix the car,

and Casy remarks about how he has seen so many cars moving west, but no

cars going east. Casy predicts that all of the movement and collection of

people in California will change the country. The two of them stay with the

car while the family goes ahead. Before they leave, Al tells Tom that Ma is

worried that he will do something that might break his parole. Granma has

been going crazy, yelling and talking to herself.

Al asks Tom about what he felt when he killed a man. Tom admits that prison

has a tendency to drive a man insane. Tom and Al find a junkyard where they

find a part to replace the broken con-rod in the Wilson's car. The one-eyed

man working at the junkyard complains about his boss, and says that he

might kill him. Tom tells off the one-eyed man for blaming all of his

problems on his eye, and then criticizes Al for his constant worry that

people will blame him for the car breaking down. Tom, Casy and Al rejoin

the rest of the family at a campground not far away. To stay at the

campground, the three would have to pay an additional charge, for they

would be charged with vagrancy if they slept out in the open. Tom, Casy and

Uncle John eventually decide to go on ahead and meet up with everyone else

in the morning. A ragged man at the camp, when he hears that the Joads are

going to pick oranges in California, laughs. The man, who is returning from

California, tells how the handbills are a fraud. They ask for eight hundred

people, but get several thousand people who want to work. This drives down

wages. The proprietor of the campground suspects that the ragged man is

trying to stir up trouble for labor.

Chapter Seventeen: A strange thing happened for the migrant laborers.

During the day, as they traveled, the cars were separate and lonely, yet in

the evening a strange thing happened: at the campgrounds where they stayed

the twenty or so families became one. Their losses and their concerns

became communal. The families were at first timid, but they gradually built

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