The Grapes of Wrath The true beginning of the novel starts when the Joad family begins their journey to the west, heading for bright and sunny California. The whole crew that went on this long journey consisted of, Tom Joad (Jr.), Tom Joad (Senior), Mrs. Joad (Ma), Jim Casey (the reverend), Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle John, Noah Joad, Rose of Sharron Joad, Al Joad, Ruthie Joad, Winfield Joad, and Cassie (Rose of Sharron's husband). They family starts off on their trek from home leaving all of their most prized possessions behind, carrying only what they needed to survive.
Even as the adventure starts for the Joad family, one of the family members already wants to separate from the rest, Grandpa. He feels that he belongs on "his" land, and should not leave it no matter if there was nothing there for him. After getting him drunk on coughing syrup, they force grandpa to join them on the long journey.
As they travel on, they begin to notice how Grandpa slowly drifts off into nothing ness as he gets farther away from his home. Once stopping on the side of the road along the way and meeting up with the kind Wilson's, Grandpa finally broke down. Being such a strong man, it was very frightening to see him cry and once lay down for a while to rest, he went to the eternal rest as he passed away. It was thought by the ex-preacher, Casy, that Grandpa was dying since the day they left the home, that land was Him and without it he was dead. The death of Grandpa didn't fully hit the Joads. The only one who was effected severely by this tragic experience was Grandma. For now, after all, she was left alone. She went into fits of crying and just lying down and not saying a word. She longed for her husband, and her depression soon effected her health. Yet, the family could not wait for her health to improve or even for mourning, so they continued on.
They drove and drove, facing starvation and extreme lack of money, until they reached California. They came to a stop at a small camp where a rich cool stream flowed through the area. After camping for a while, Noah, the eldest son, came to the decision, that it was his time to move on alone. Noah knew that he was not what people considered "normal" because of certain birth defects and he was not the most sociable person. Knowing that he could just as well do better on his own, he split apart from the family, believing that he would stay at the stream and eat fish when necessary. Knowing that there was no arguing with his brother, Tom Joad accepted this parting from his brother and the Joads moved on, continuing the decline of their once tight-knit family.
Still progressing further into California, Grandma's depression became worse and worse, not effecting her already poor health. Once crossing the guard station, the Joads were faced with yet another loss to their now rapidly declining family, Grandma's death. Their next stop at a camp called Hooversville, another member of the family decided to up and leave for his own. Cassie, the husband of the soon-to-be-expecting, Rose of Sharron, decides that life was too complicated for him and just disappears one night, never to return to his wife or new family. Accepting this "small loss" the Joads continue looking for work and a decent life, while Rose of Sharron becomes severely depressed from the loss of her husband. At this camp, yet another member of the group leaves unexpectedly, Casy the reverend. His leaving was not entirely his choice. A fight broke out in camp, concerning a police officer and Tom Joad. Instead of Tom getting in trouble and sent back to prison, Casy takes the blame for the flight and is taken to prison.
Now, once Casy is gone, the only ones left of the original thirteen family members, is brought down to the small number of eight. This number was still to decline, but not for a while yet. The family went through ups and downs concerning money, food, and sickness. They come in contact again with the reverend Casy, finding him to be a leader of a rebel, only to lose him again when he is murdered.
Finally the family comes into some good fortune at a cotton-picking site, and is at last making a path for themselves in life. They have money, full stomachs, new clothes, and happiness for once in a long time. But it is at this time that Tom must leave them. He was in a fight at the last camp and assaulted an officer. He, now being a danger to the family, decides to camp out in the woods until his face is healed and he is no longer a danger to the rest of the family. But an incident where his youngest sister, Ruthie, reveals to another girl where he is hiding out, he realizes it is time to move on for himself and leaves his loving family.
At the same time, Al Joad is on his way out of the Joad family. He, being the frisky young man that he was, finally finds a girl that he falls in love with, Aggie Wainwright, and plans to be wed. He now is becoming wrestles with his own family and continues to beseech his parents to let him off on his own. Ma and Pa ask him to stay for a little longer to help them with their truck for they then had no one to help then for the only family members left were, Pa, Ma, Uncle John, Rose of Sharron, Winfield, and Ruthie. He agrees, but makes his vow that he and his new wife are going to leave as soon as they can.
Finally the last loss to the family comes at the end of the book. A family member that was not even "part of the family" yet, leaves. Rose of Sharron goes into labor during a great flood and because of some complication, her child is a stillborn. Thus, marking the last departure of the Joad family; leaving their original thirteen kin to a meager number of six.