got thinkin’ how we was holy when we was one thing, an’ mankin’
was holy when it was one thing. An’ it on’y got unholy when one
mis’able little fella got the bit in his teeth an’ run off his own
way, kickin’ an’ draggin’ an’ fightin’. Fella like that bust the
holi-ness. But when they’re all workin’ together, not one fella
for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole
shebang—that’s right, that’s holy.
In Chapter 8, after Tom and Jim
Casy arrive at Uncle John’s farm, the family convinces the ex-preacher
to say grace over their breakfast. Casy hesitates, but eventually
offers these words. They constitute, in short, the philosophy that
governs the novel: both Casy and, later, Tom will put this theory
into practice by way of a revolutionary fight for the rights of
their fellow man—their efforts to organize the migrant workers.
In the end, Casy proves willing to lose his life in this struggle,
and Tom, picking up where his mentor left off, resolves to unify
his soul with the greater soul of humankind.
On a smaller scale, the Joad family also lives up to this
philosophy, determinedly cooperating with fellow migrant workers
and offering them their services or their food. Ma Joad in particular emphasizes
the importance of keeping the family together. She believes deeply
in the power of human bonds to provide not only practical benefits
but spiritual sustenance.