Grapes Of Wrath Synopsis

Grapes Of Wrath Synopsis - A story of families, love, revenge, prostitution, wealth, power and much more!

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Grapes of Wrath Synopsis - Story Overview


The story starts with Tom Joad returning back to his family home in Oklahoma. He's just been released from prison for manslaughter.

What greets him is a set of deserted houses and farms - his own families and all the surrounding farms. He bangs into an old neighbour who exclaims that tractors have replaced the men that work the land and they have all been driven off the land (quite literally). He says that Tom should find the family at his Uncles house.

Sure enough, his family are there and are packing up some small possessions onto a rickety old truck. They have seen posters advertising fruit picking in California and believe that this is there only chance of finding work.

The Journey to California - (Grapes of Wrath Synopsis)

The journey to California is arduous. The whole route is strewn with clapped out cars and off loaded possessions. Everyone is leaving Oklahoma and heading to California.

Grampa Joad really didn't want to leave his home in Oklahoma and sadly dies on route. The Joad family take pity on another couple whose car  is beyond repare and let them travel in their truck. The guy Sairy is however sick and also doesn't make it over to California.


If only the journey and all the trouble was worth while...but sadly it is not. Thousands upon thousands have arrived before the Joads and the result is that there just isn't enough jobs for everyone. Most are living in squalid camps, many are starving to death as they just don't have any money to feed their families.

The Joads start to crumble. Granma Joad dies. Noah, one of the Joad family decides to go it alone on the hope of finding work elsewhere. They drift from camp to camp in search of work.

The locals are really unhappy with the influx of "oakies" and the Sheriffs are policing the camps to try and keep the order. The Joad family have a few run ins with the sherrifs who get annoyed at the campers wanting to form a union. (A friend of theirs, Jim Casey gets arrested in the process)

Tom Joad manages to use his skills to avoid a riot in another government camp (the sheriffs want to try and close the camp down by staging a riot and blaming it on the campers)

Fruit and Cotton Picking (Grapes of Wrath Synopsis)

The Joads reluctantly move on to find work and finally have some luck getting work picking fruit. But it turns out that they only managed to get work as the owners were trying to stop a strike. It all gets a bit messy again with Tom killing a policeman. He has to go into hiding and the rest of the Joads move onto a cotton farm.

Here Rose of Sharon's baby is born dead (amidst terrible flooding as it is the start of the rainy season) The family have to move out of their cotton farm hovel to higher ground to escape the flooding, without Tom. (He is still in hiding and trying to get the workers to unite together to fight against the land owners for better pay and conditions.)

The Final Scene

Inside the barn they find a boy and his dieing father who is starving to death. Rose of Sharon offers the man milk from her own breast to try and save him. It doesn't leave much grounds for hope, but perhaps there is some - The Joads seem to keep surviving.

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