He escapes and returns to the family. Inside the barn is a starving man and his young son. The second is Grampa Joad, who dies of a stroke. The men return from an unsuccessful job hunt. Tom smells alcohol on his breath.
The rest of the family begins to break apart as well. Eastern banks and corporate farmers are repossessing the land, and the Joads have little choice but to look for work in the orchards and fields out west. Tom finds out that the leader of the labor force that is organizing the strike is Jim Casy. As Tom and Casy talk, two men approach. In this image, Steinbeck powerfully dramatizes the desperate plight of Depression-era migrant workers, whom the author felt had been abandoned by society. During this time, a long period of drought and high winds affected large parts of the American Midwest, including much of the state of Oklahoma, creating what was called the Dust Bowl.
A sense of nervousness hangs over the region as the powerless sharecroppers and their families struggle with the loss of their livelihoods. Tom finally locates his family as they are about to pack their belongings on a dilapidated truck and head West, lured by promises of work and high wages in California. The Farmers' Association doesn't like the rule of no police being allowed on the grounds. There had never been anything to indicate that she had the compassion and generosity of spirit that she demonstartes here. Tom settles down for a nap, and his brother, Noah, tells him that he's not going with the family any further, that he's going to live by the Colorado River. Steinbeck ends the novel with Rose of Sharon, barely recovered from the delivery, breastfeeding the dying man to nurse him back to health.
Tom decides to separate from his family and to live in the bushes while they look for work picking cotton. It deals with one family's struggle to survive duting the Great Depression. Dilapidated cars and trucks, loaded down with scrappy possessions, clog Highway 66: it seems the entire country is in flight to the Promised Land of California. They feel if a fight breaks out and the deputies are at the fence of the camp, then the police would have a right to come in and break up the encampment. The Joads keep moving to other parts of the state, looking for work. You don't gather grapes with a sickle, you don't throw the whole vine into a winepress, and why does God have a winepress anyway? Someone drives a pick axe into Casy's head.
George kills Lennie to spare him from a worse death. In the next to the last stanza, Howe penned two lines that might shed some light on the symbolism in Steinbeck's novel: He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat. Her mother tells her the lady does not know what she is talking about. Even though the men try, they cannot find work. While other families evacuate the camp near the rapidly rising creek, the Joads remain and attempt to stop the flood waters.
The family settles in a shack and picks peaches for five cents a box, earning barely enough to feed the family. Rose-of-Sharon miscarries at the conclusion of the novel, and the family is still defeated. The landowner-minions have arrived to see who is trespassing. It is also clear that he is far too weak to consume solid food. Instead of calling the doctor, John gave her some medication, but she died because her appendix burst.
The Wilsons travel with the Joads until the California border, where Sairy becomes too ill to continue. Before they must move on, Tom does retrieve Uncle John, who is still consumed with guilt over his wife's death. Then Rose of Sharon has a miscarriage. However, Rose-of-Sharon commits herself powerfully yet licentiously to help the other members of their community by choosing to breast feed a starving man, therefore doing the only action that isn't futile against the power of society. The storms are severe enough to block out the sunlight, leaving crops destroyed.
Once her own family is fed, Ma leaves the rest of the food for the other children. With Tom now hunted as a murderer, the family steals away under cover of night and finds temporary refuge in a government agricultural camp. As a deputy leads Floyd to a car, Floyd attacks him. They find out that there are not that many jobs for migrant workers. Tom gains a better idea of the prejudices that the migrant workers face within a biased system.