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Grapes of Wrath Chapter 31 (Intercalary)
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! The thunderous roar emanates from the heart of the fatherland, Germany. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! The deafening march of Fuhrer Hitler’s army begins! To the Rhineland they storm, to complete the Deutschland. Then, to the east they proceed, taking Austria with them. Adding to the glorious land of Germany, Hitler and his men strut into Czechoslovakia, where they are welcomed with open arms. To the north they continue to march. Harnessing the power of the blitzkrieg, Poland is overtaken in an instant, like lightning striking down a tree. The European powers could not ignore this any longer.
It’s war ya want right? Well we’ll give it to ya. With that, the British and the French enter the fray, and the bodies continue to pile up. From the fatherland, the troops of Hitler begin their resounding march north, taking with them the Danish lands. Still to the north, Norway falls into the greedy palms of the Germans. Turning their avaricious eyes towards the trophy of Paris, the Reich continues its march back south to France, and with the ferocity of a lion pouncing upon a gazelle, crushes all resistance, forcing the French to surrender. Seeing the strength of the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese join them, forming the Axis powers.
As the floodwaters receded, and the river returned to its natural course, the sun shone once more, spreading its warmth into the cold limbs of the migrant people, spreading hope to the migrant people. They could once more head out to look for work rather than to sit in a decrepit shelter, waiting for the torrential rains to end. Their belongings were waterlogged and most could not be used. This rug ‘ere’s damp an’ moldy, but if we give ‘er a good washin’ an’ leave ‘er out to dry, we might be able to use ‘er for something else. That ol’ jalopy there won’t work no more, after the wash it just gone through. We’ll take ‘er apart and see what we can salvage. No reason to leave ‘er ‘ere for someone else to take. We can’t leave ‘ere either; no place to stay and it’s better’n nothin’. Th’ boxcar’ll be good as new after we dry ‘er up and clean out th’ mud. For now, we’d better go find someplace to work at.
The men left in search of work. They wandered, from farm to farm, plantation to plantation, desperate for a source of income, a source of food. The women and children stayed behind, tidying up the boxcars, and throwing out anything that would serve no further purpose after festering in the rain. Taking what food that was still edible, albeit soggy, they prepared a hot, fresh meal for the men. Upon their return, they would be able to replenish some of the energy and vigor lost from the search.
In the midst of all of the strife, the British and the French needed a constant supply of weaponry. The only ones they could turn to were the Americans. Factories opened, work was slowly on the rise, and the economy gradually rose up from the ashes like a great phoenix.
As the days passed, the men of the migrant people saw it on the edges of the road: a cluster of signs and posters with slogans plastered all over. We can do it! I want YOU for the U.S. Army; enlist now. America’s answer: PRODUCTION!
Enlist in th’ army now? What for? We ain’t fightin’ anyone are we?
I heard some folks down yonder talkin’. Said somethin’ ‘bout them Japs bombin’ Pearl Harbor. Killed some two thousan’ soldiers an’ some bystanders. Said we declared war on ‘em.
Anyone from ages eighteen to forty-five gots to join, eh?
Don’t wanna leave th’ women an’ th’ children behind. They can’t make it on their own, can they? Can’t bear the thought of leavin’ ‘em.
But it’s th’ law, ain’t it? Can’t go around breakin’ laws. An’ we’d have decent meals and a place to sleep there.
The men returned home, bearing news of the war efforts, of the new jobs, of the new lives that they would lead. They told the women that they would be heading off to the recruitment centers the next morning to join the army, and together they wept. They wept with joy because they would have jobs and would be able to feed the children. They wept with sadness at the possibility of never meeting again. They wept, for the lives that were lost, and ones that would be lost.
The migrant people left in droves. The women who had children worked on farms and plantations, providing food to a starved nation. The women who bore no children went to work in the factories, providing weapons for the Allies. And the men went to join the war against the Axis, providing reinforcements to the beleaguered Allies.
As the war dragged on, work became more abundant. The men were sent to fight in Europe and in Asia whenever it was deemed necessary, and the men who were unable to fight, along with the women and children, continued to assemble gruesome tools of murder, and continued to grow crops to feed the people.
With more of the migrant people finding jobs and settling down, the number of Hoovervilles began to dwindle, many dispersed, either autonomously or by force, and instead, were replaced by government camps. These government camps quickly sprang up across the state like tourists visiting Europe during the summer. Because the Californians were so caught up in the war effort, they slowly began to forget their disdain for the Okies, working together to bring down the armies of Hitler, Mussolini, and Sh?wa. They were increasingly accepted as part of the community, not as Okies, but as Californians.
Those of the once-migrant people, who were wise enough to save as much of their money as they could, took what they had, left the government camps, and purchased their own land. They were once more reunited with the earth that had been a part of their lives for generations. As time passed, more and more of the once-migrant people settled down on their own little plots of land with small white houses.
When the war ended and the survivors returned home, they were welcomed to a renewed nation of hope, of freedom. They returned home, to a small plot of land with a small white house and an orange grove. As they surveyed the view of their land with an appreciative eye, they remembered. They remembered the thousands of miles traveled. They remembered the blood, the sweat, the tears, and the years put into making their dream come to life. They remembered the friends and family alike that were unable to see the Promised Land, the rich, lush valleys of California.