Grapes of Wrath, 2016

Modern transients: California short stories

[Ma Joad:]”I never had my house pushed over,” she said. “I never had my fambly stuck out on the road. I never had to sell – ever’thing – Here they come now.” (Grapes of wrath, 1939)

Grapes of wrath, 2016:


“It’s hard to let go of your things” she said, sitting in a dark corner of her cluttered house, blacked-out to save energy for global warming. “You’re using too much water by the way,” she hollered at her migrant friend, in town for a shower, since 2008 owning only what he could carry.

“Mam,” he thought to himself, “losing your things is easy. Letting go of your ways of thinking is what’s hard.”


“I never give anything away for free,” she told her neighbor, down on his luck and inquiring if he could have the old stove sitting in her garage. “I prefer to sell and donate the money to charity.”

“If everyone took care of their neighbors,” someone muttered, “we would need no charities.”


“My gardener is illegal,” she revealed. “Built a family and everything here. They’re such a nice lot, once I treated them to a pool party for his birthday. I don’t want him sent back to Mexico.”

[Later that day]: “There’s such a shortage of water now, my lawn died. Why do they let all the new people in here? I don’t understand. We really don’t have the water.”

The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The novel describes a poor Midwest family forced off of their land, traveling to California and suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

During the 2008 recession, roughly 7 million Americans lost their homes. Many remain homeless.

Above short stories are actual conversations that took place in San Francisco area last month.