they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever
they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why,
I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the
way kids laugh when they’re hungry n’ they know supper’s ready.
An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses
they build—why, I’ll be there. See? God, I’m talkin’ like Casy.
Comes of thinkin’ about him so much. Seems like I can see him sometimes.
The death of Jim Casy completes the
transformation of Tom Joad into a man ready to take responsibility
for the future and to act accordingly. Throughout the novel, Casy
acts as Steinbeck’s moral mouthpiece, articulating several of the
book’s more important themes, such as the sanctity of human life
and the necessary unity of all mankind. In this passage, from Chapter 28, Tom quiets Ma’s fear that he, like Casy, will lose
his life in the workers’ movement. Tom assures her that regardless
of whether he lives or dies, his spirit will continue on in the
triumphs and turmoil of the world. As the Joads are torn apart,
Tom’s words offer the promise of a deep, lasting connection that
no tragedy can break.