"You and me got sense. Them Okies got no sense and no feelings. They ain’t human. No, human being wouldn’t live the way they do. A human being couldn’t stand to be so miserable."
Description: The words of a gas station attendant referring to the Joad family as they flee in their dilapidated truck from the poverty of the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to the promise of California in the classic motion picture The Grapes of Wrath (1940).
The Joad's are proud farmers who have tilled the soil of Oklahoma for years until hot winds blow away the rich top soil and leave them with nothing by barren land. With few options, the Joad's load up their truck and travel Highway 66 to California to begin again.
|Al Joad:||Ain't you gonna look back, Ma? Give the ol' place a last look?|
|Ma Joad:||We're going' to California, ain't we? All right then let's go to California.|
|Al Joad:||That don't sound like you, Ma. You never was like that before.|
|Ma Joad:||I never had my house pushed over before. Never had my family stuck out on the road. Never had to lose everything I had in life.|
But leaving was not easy and some, like Muley Graves (John Qualen) declares he ain'ta gonna leave, although, in the end, he has no choice but to go.
"There ain't nobody gonna push me of my land! My grandpa took up this land 70 years ago, my pa was born here, we were all born on it. And some of of us was killed on it! ...and some of us died on it. That's what make it our'n, bein' born on it,...and workin' on it,...and and dying' on it! And not no piece of paper with the writin' on it!"
Driven by poverty and need to find a new life, the Okies look for a way to survive. As they arrive in California, they find jobs picking fruit but the wages are low, and these new-comers are treated like slaves. When they object, they are clubbed and killed by strike-busting goons sent by the growers to keep the workers in line.
After Casy (John Carradine), a preacher is killed, Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) now involved in the underground strike movement, decides to battle injustice and seek social reform. Wanted for killing a guard, Tom escapes one camp, but eventually must leave his Ma (Jane Darwell) and family behind. Before he goes, he speaks quietly with his mother:
|Tom Joad:||I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin' fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin'. And I been wonderin' if all our folks got together and yelled...|
|Ma Joad:||Oh, Tommy, they'd drag you out and cut you down just like they done to Casy.|
|Tom Joad:||They'd drag me anyways. Sooner or later they'd get me for one thing if not for another. Until then...|
|Ma Joad:||Tommy, you're not aimin' to kill nobody.|
|Tom Joad:||No, Ma, not that. That ain't it. It's just, well as long as I'm an outlaw anyways... maybe I can do somethin' ... maybe I can just find out somethin', just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that's wrong and see if they ain't somethin' that can be done about it. I ain't thought it out all clear, Ma. I can't. I don't know enough.|
|Ma Joad:||How am I gonna know about ya, Tommy? Why they could kill ya and I'd never know. They could hurt ya. How am I gonna know?|
|Tom Joad:||Well, maybe it's like Casy says. A fellow ain't got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then...|
|Ma Joad:||Then what, Tom?|
|Tom Joad:||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.|
As the film ends, we hear the words of Ma Joad summarize the state of the world:
"Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good an' they die out. But we keep a'comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."
Note: The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is based on the best selling novel of the same name written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939.
The book title phrase "The Grapes of Wrath" appear in the book at the end of Chapter 25 - "In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."
The phrase appears earlier in the song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" - He (the Lord) is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored... His truth is marching on."
The phrase "grapes of wrath" refers to the biblical passage Revelation 14:19–20 - "And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God."