Chapters 23 & 24 deal a lot with assimilating into a new community. The migrants have gotten so into the routine of building up a community during the night and leaving in the morning that it's become very easy for them. They very eagerly share their folklore, music, and religious practices with each other.
Now in the Joads' case they have found a more permanent community. It's one that has it's own laws and keeps very good control of themselves and their residents. The cast involves Tom, Pa, Ma, Ruthie, Winfeld, Rose of Sharon, Al, and Floyd Knowles.
The theme of Chapter 23 would have to be finding comfort in a community. Though if asked to break that theme down we would say they were: Comfort, Folklore, Music, and Religion.
What kind of effect does music have on the migrants, specifically on their mental well-being?
What kind of release does alcohol give the migrants in The Grapes of Wrath?
Passages in Chapter 23:
"And always, if he had a little money, a man could get drunk. The hard
edges gone, and the warmth. Then there was no loneliness, for a man
could people his brain with friends, and he could find his enemies and
destroy them. Sitting in a ditch, the earth grew soft under him.
Failures dulled and the future was no threat. And hunger did not skulk
about, but the world was soft and easy, and a man could reach the place
he started for. The stars came down wonderfully close and the sky was
soft. Death was a friend, and sleep was death’s brother. The old times
came back — dear and warm…And the stars down so close, and sadness and
pleasure so close together, really the same thing. Like to stay drunk
all the time. Who says it’s bad? Who dares to say it’s bad?" (Page 447)
"Beside an irrigation ditch a preacher labored and the people cried. And
the preacher paced like a tiger, whipping the people with his voice, and
they groveled and whined on the ground. He calculated them, gauged
them, played on them, and when they were all squirming on the ground he
stooped down and of his great strength he picked each one up in his arms
and shouted, Take 'em, Christ! and threw each one in the water. And
when they were all in, waist deep in the water, and looking with
frightened eyes at the master, he knelt down on the bank and he prayed
for them; and he prayed that all men and women might grovel and whine on
the ground. Men and women, dripping, clothes sticking tight, watched;
then gurgling and sloshing in their shoes they walked back to the camp;
to the tents, and they talked softly in wonder:
We been saved, they said. We’re washed white as snow. We won't never sin again.
And the children, frightened and wet, whispered together:
We been saved. We won’t sin no more.
Wisht I knowed what all the sins was, so I could do 'em." (Page 451)
The theme of chapter 24 is the process of assimilating into a new community and building ties with your neighbors. Or we also thought it could be: Protecting your community, subterfuge, corruption in the law, and organization.
How far would you go for the sake of the bonds between you and your community?
How could this chapter raise cries of Communism?
Passages in Chapter 24:
"Huston's head sank down for a moment, and then he said softly, "O.K. Don't tell. But looka here. Don't knife your own folks. We're tryin' to get along, havin' fun an' keepin' order. Don't tear all that down. Jes' think about it. You're jes' harmin' yourself. " (Page 470)
"Jule said, "These here dances done funny things. Our people got nohing, but jes' because they can ast their frien's to come here to dance, sets 'em up an' makes 'em proud. An' the folks respects 'em 'count of these here dances." (Page 464)
Comparison: They are still in a tough boat. Work is scarce and the pay is barely existant. They are in another community, albeit this one is organized.
Contrast: This community is effective. They share resources and protect their own. In the previous chapters most of the tent communities were temporary. That is not the case with this one, they are self-governed and are able to sustain themselves.