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The Grapes of Wrath
Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, like Pa and Grampa did. And now the owner men grew angry. you'll have to go. But it's ours, the tenant men cried. We - No. The bank, the monster owns it. You'll have to go. We'll get our guns, like Grampa when the Indians came. What then? Well - first the sheriff, and then the troops. you'll be stealing if you try to stay, you'll be murderers if you kill to stay. The monster isn't men, but it can make men do what it wants. But if we go, where'll we go? How'll we go? We got no money.
We're sorry, said the owner men. The bank, the fifty-thousand-acre owner can't be responsible. You're on land that isn't yours. Once over the line maybe you can pick cotton in the fall. Maybe you can go on relief. Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there? And the owner men started their car and rolled away.
The tenant men squatted down on their hams again to mark the dust with a stick, to figure, to wonder. Their sun-burned faces were dark, and their sun-whipped eyes were light The women moved cautiously out of the doorways toward their men, and the children crept behind the women, cautiously, ready to run. The bigger boys squatted beside their fathers, because that made them men. After a time the women asked, What did he want?
And the men looked up for a second, and the smolder of pain was in their eyes We got to get off. A tractor and a superintendent. Like factories.
Where'll we go? the women asked.
We don't know. We don't know.
And the women went quickly, quietly back into the houses and herded the children ahead of them. They knew that a man so hurt and so perplexed may turn in anger, even on people he loves. They left the men alone to figure and to wonder in the dust.
After a time perhaps the tenant man looked about - at the pump put in ten years ago, with a goose-neck handle and iron flowers on the spout, at the chopping block where a thousand chickens had been killed, at the hand plow lying in the shed, and the patent crib hanging in the rafters over it.
The children crowded about the women in the houses. What we going to do, Ma? Where we going to go?
The women said, We don't know, yet. Go out and play. But don't go near your father. He might whale you if you go near him. And the women went on with the work, but all the time they watched the men squatting in the dust - perplexed and figuring.
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