25 Tom Joad Quotes from The Grapes Of Wrath

Classic literature fans will love our Tom Joad quotes from the great American novel, The Grapes of Wrath

Tom Joad is a memorable character because he goes through a metamorphosis in John Steinback’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath

Let’s explore the life of Tom Joad below. 

Who is Tom Joad?

Tom Joad is the main protagonist in The Grapes of Wrath.

In the story, we meet Tom as he has been released from prison. 

He was arrested and served time for murder.

He and the man he killed were drunk, and the death was labeled an act of self-defense. 

Tom was initially given a ten-year sentence but only did four after being released for good behavior. 

Check out these interesting facts about The Grapes of Wrath below: 

  • The Grapes of Wrath was banned in Kansas for indecent content
  • John Steinback sold the rights to The Grapes of Wrath for $100,000
  • The book was turned into a film in 1940, with Henry Fonda playing Tom Joad

What is the meaning of the title in The Grapes of Wrath?

The Grapes of Wrath covers many themes during one of the most challenging times in US history. 

The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl migration caused hardships and economic difficulties for many Americans seeking work and opportunity. 

The book’s title was suggested by Carol Steinback, who was John’s wife. 

She got the idea for the tile from Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was published in 1862 and served as part of the soundtrack for the abolitionist movement. 

At the song’s beginning, the lyrics go: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”

Steinback took years to research the book, but the writing happened quickly. 

He wrote the entire 619-page masterpiece by hand in five months.

His wife typed up the first manuscript after he wrote it out. 

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Why is The Grapes of Wrath so well known?

People love The Grapes of Wrath for many reasons; One of those reasons is Tom Joad.

Tom is a likable and relatable character. 

He has flaws; he has been to prison and seen the world’s underbelly.

Yet, he never loses his spirit. 

Tom is a static character, meaning we see him transform into a better version of himself during the novel. 

People love The Grapes of Wrath because it evokes the challenges of the Great Depression and implores empathy and sympathy for the struggles of the migrant farmworkers. 

Since its debut in 1939, it has been considered a classic by literature lovers and critics alike. 

To learn more about The Grapes of Wrath, check out our Tom Joad quotes below. 

Short Tom Joad quotes and sayings about labor and family

Tom is an inquisitive working man looking for answers to life’s challenges. 

1. “Think it’ll hold?” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

2. “What about Grandma?” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

3. “What’s the matter, Grandpa?” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

4. “Sure don’t look none too prosperous.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

5. “Ma, will you get the hell off’a there! It’s gonna be heavy enough.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom Joad quotes about communism and what it means to be a red

Communism is a significant theme in The Grapes of Wrath

Here are some of Tom’s most memorable lines addressing communism. 

6. “Listen, what is these reds?” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath  

7. “What IS these reds, anyway?” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

8. “Every time ya turn around, somebody’s callin’ somebody else a red!” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath  

9. “If there was a law, they was workin’ with, maybe we could take it, but it ain’t the law.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

10. “They’re workin’ away our spirits, tryin’ to make us cringe and crawl, takin’ away our decency.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

The best Tom Joad quotes about hope and having a soul

Tom is a man who questions the world around him in search of answers. 

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11. “I ain’t thought it out all clear, Ma. I can’t. I don’t know enough.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

12. “They’d drag me anyways. Sooner or later, they’d get me for one thing if not for another. Until then.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

13. “No, Ma, not that. That ain’t it. It’s just, well, as long as I’m an outlaw anyways, maybe I can do somethin’.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

14. “Maybe I can just find out somethin’, just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

15. “Well, maybe it’s like Casy says. A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

Famous Tom Joad quotes about deep thoughts and seeing clear

Like many of his generation, Tom is seeking clarity about life.

16. “Me, neither, Ma, but just somethin’ I been thinkin’ about.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

17. “He was like a lantern. He helped me to see things clear.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

18. “Takes no nerve to do something, ain’t nothin’ else you can do.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

19. “That Casy. He might have been a preacher, but he seen things clear.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath  

20. “Seems like the government’s got more interest in a dead man than a live one.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

Tom Joad quotes about being everywhere at once 

Tom famously told his mother, Ma Joad, that he planned on being everywhere because he has a big soul. 

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21. “I’ll be there, too.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

22. “I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

23. “Then it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark; I’ll be everywhere.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath  

24. “Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there.” — Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

25. “Wherever you can look, wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.”— Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath 

What can we learn from Tom Joad today?

Tom Joad has much to teach the reader. 

In the story, Tom and the other migrant workers must travel west for work opportunities. 

During this sojourn, Tom becomes the disciple of Jim Casy. 

Casy is a former preacher who emphasizes that when people act alone, they have little impact on the world, but when they work together, they can achieve the loftiest goals. 

Tom witnesses suffering and hostility and realizes he cannot stand silent in the face of oppression and injustice. 

Tom’s transformation reminds us that the power of change is inside each of us. 

However, this transformative energy can only fully reach critical mass when we align ourselves with others.  

Throughout the book, male characters like Tom, Grandpa, and Uncle John keep their thoughts and pain to themselves. 

Tom demonstrates that sharing our emotions and thoughts allows us to overcome the harshest setbacks and limitations. 

What is your favorite Tom Joad quote?

Please be sure to let us know in the comments section below. 

Clifton Sankofa has Master's degrees in English, Teaching, and School Leadership. He is a veteran educator and school leader. Clifton has built his career around teaching language arts, social-emotional learning, hip-hop(e), and vegan cooking. Across the country, Black and Brown communities die over preventable diseases. Clifton's aim is to help reverse this trend through cultural shifts. Using hip-hop and cultural-centered activities, he educates young people on how to reclaim their health and heritage through sustainable vegan eating, cooking practices, and literacy skills.
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