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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck

THE STORY CHAPTER 15

We're back on the road again. America is on the move in this interchapter. Cars and trucks from every state whisk along Route 66. Now we are pulled into one of hundreds of indistinguishable roadside diners where the waitress' name is always Mae and the boss is always Al. We overhear conversations at the counter. What people talk about is what you'd expect- virtually everything. It's small talk over coffee or a Coke, jokes, anecdotes, a bit of teasing, chit-chat about the weather, and lots of scornful remarks about the steady stream of migrants' cars and trucks rolling wearily by day after day.


An overloaded '26 Nash car stops. The man of the family asks to buy bread. Mae says, "This ain't a grocery store. We got bread to make san'widges." But Al, sympathetic with the poor man, orders Mae to sell a loaf of bread. Mae follows Al's lead and accepts only a penny for two candy sticks that really cost five cents each. Bill, the trucker observing the incident, knows charity when he sees it. He leaves a tip for Mae many times the amount of the check.

Much later in the novel Ma Joad observes that poor people rarely get help from the well-to-do. It's ordinary people who'll more often lend a hand. Don't Al and Mae and Bill confirm Ma's observation?  

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