Characters and Main Events
Chapter 24 focuses on the Central Committee and their goal to prevent a riot/fight that from occurring that would allow police entry into the camp. Some of the prominent characters in this chapter are Ezra Huston, Tom Joad, Jule Vitela, and Willie Eaton. Most of the Joad family is mentioned in this chapter but do not play a significant role.
Some themes that were discernable in this chapter were the value of community events and escapism, police corruption, and unions.
What would have happened if local law enforcement had gained entry into the government camp?
Why is law enforcement so concerned about a camp that causes the town no trouble?
"You know better'n that," he said. "You know a vagrant is anybody a cop don't like. An' that's why they hate this here camp. No cops can get in. This here's United States, not California."
"These here dances done funny things. Our people got nothing, but jes' because the can ast their frien's to come here to the dance, sets 'em up an' makes 'em proud. An' the folks respects 'em 'count of these here dances. Fella got a little place where I was a-workin'. He come to a dance here. I ast him myself, an' he come. Says we got the only decent dance in the county, where a man can take his girls an' his wife.
It has become the norm for trouble to be lurking around every corner for the migrants. They have to be on their toes at all times, even when they are just staging a community dance. Nothing is easy for them.
The preparedness of the migrants was much better in the government camp than it was in the hooverville. Leadership and organization also helped them to deal with the attempt from outsiders to start a fight that might lead to the demise of the camp.
Characters and main events
The characters in this chapter are more general than specific with the farmers and the migrants. The main event seems to be the crops coming in, but being discarded due to the inability to turn a profit on them.
Themes in this chapter include wastefulness and inhumanity.
Will this finally push the migrants over the edge and start a revolution?
Why even plant these crops if you are unable to profit from them?
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. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates-died of malnutrition-because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.
The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get dumped oranges, but the kerosine is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quicklime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; 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.
We have consistently viewed the disdain of the locals towards migrants. This chapter epitomizes it. They would rather throw away valuable food than give it to migrants.
This chapter is in direct contrast to almost every chapter in the book. We consistently see the genrosity of the Joads and other migrants throughout the book. These people have very little to give, yet they are more than willing to help others.