A Long Trek Home


Florence Thompson and her children in a pea pickers’ camp. Nipomo, California. March 1936.


This picture taken by photographer Dorothea Lange depicts a woman and her children resting under a tent at a pea pickers’ camp. This photo calls to mind a quote from John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” were the Joads take a break from driving and stop at the side of the road where the meet the Ivy and Sairy Wilson who asks Grampa Joad, “‘How’d you like ta come in our tent?…You kin lay down on our mattress an’ rest'” (Steinbeck 139). This photo reminds me of this specific scene from the book because there is a small tent built just like the Wilsons. The two children in the tent also remind me of Ruthie and Winfield. I could imagine the little tent set on a dirt landscape similar to this one off of a highway. The atmosphere and setting of this image perfectly embodies the scene where the Joads meet the Wilsons.


Abandoned garage on Highway Number 2. Western North Dakota. 1937


This second photograph was taken by Russell Lee. This image is strikingly similar to the scene from “The Grapes of Wrath” where the Joads travel along the highway and eventually need to stop for water and gas at a “shack beside the road [with] two gas pumps in front of it” (Steinbeck 128). This scene and the photograph are shockingly almost identical. In fact the photograph does have a shack with exactly two gas pumps. The road next to the gas station is similar to the road the Joads were traveling on right before they stopped for gas. Overall, you can feel the dreariness in this photo with its desolation that the Joads must have felt too as they were traveling along relying on their car to not break down. Both photographs from Lee and from Lange reveal the desolation and weariness that the characters from the novel must have felt as well.


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