other families, was devastated. Forced to leave their long-time home, the family left to find a new life. California was the destination of choice. After all, it was known as “the land of milk and honey.” The victims of the dust bowl pictured California to be a haven where jobs were plenty, houses were big, and fruit was readily available.
The dreams, hopes, and expectations the Joads bottled up for California were shattered by the reality of what life was really like there.
Dreams of white houses and overabundance of fruit quickly ended after the first night the Joads spent in California. “But I like to think how nice it’s gonna be, maybe, in California. Never cold. An’ fruit ever’place, an’ people just bein’ in the nicest places, little white houses in among the orange trees.” Ma’s statement was fueled by the complete lies read on handbills and other propaganda circulating the dust bowl region.
Growers in California saw the victims of the dust bowl might be driven from their homes and sought to take advantage of the situation. And, as businessmen, they knew the more workers they had to pick fruit, the more fruit they’d have to sell. Prices could be lowered as well. The number of handbills sent out far outnumbered the number of available jobs, however. Many people in the dust bowl were constructing a view of California that was devastatingly false. Most of the people had to go somewhere, and all they knew was agriculture, so the natural thing was to go to the only place in the country in peak agricultural condition.
This was all true in the Joads case. They had no experience with any other kind of lifestyle. Once a farmer, always a farmer seemed to be the family’s philosophy. What they actually became was job hunters, starving and hungry people, and homeless vagrants. California was not a dreamland, but the exact opposite-a nightmare.
During the long journey to California, the Joads and other migrant travelers encountered many warnings of what this “paradise” really was from migrants returning home after being destroyed by the true reality of California.
One warning came when they stayed on the site of the road while Tom, Al, and Casey were fixing the car. There was a ragged man there that told a gruesome story of his experience in California. He talked of good, yet unfarmed land, of the Hoovervilles, and of the dirty living situation of the migrants. He told of how his own children died because he couldn’t get a job to feed them. “Sompin’ it took me a year to find out. Took two kids dead, took my wife dead to show me” The Joads were warned again right near the border of California, by the river, where they stopped to camp.
The men go down to the river to get cool and encounter a man and his son. They tell of how bad it is in California and how they’re returning home. Of course what the Joads hear doesn’t in the slightest encourage them to turn back. They can’t. They lives back home have been destroyed in the dust and they only have one chance at a good future. It’s not that they don’t believe these warnings, they don’t want to believe them.
The Joads continue on to California, despite the warnings, because there is no other possible future for the family.
Upon entering California, the Joads got a glimpse of the unused farmland and their first taste that the rumors they had heard on the road about California were true. They drove down the road and would gaze at all the land that wasn’t being used to produce food and crops for the people. They were amazed and though if only they could have just a little piece of land, they would turn their lives around. They encountered Hoovervilles, great camps of migrants, massive amounts of dirty tens, and beat up cars. This would be the migrants only home.
They encountered the prejudice toward them from the Californians. They witnessed fellow migrants become accused of false crimes just because they weren’t liked. They saw the fear in .