Chapter 25 the Grapes of Wrath

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THE SPRING IS BEAUTIFUL in California. Valleys in which the fruit blossoms are fragrant pink and white waters in a shallow sea. Then the first tendrils of the grapes swelling from the old gnarled vines, cascade down to cover the trunks. The full green hills are round and soft as breasts. And on the level vegetable lands are the mile-long rows of pale green lettuce and the spindly little cauliflowers, the gray-green unearthly artichoke plants.
And then the leaves break out on the trees, and the petals drop from the fruit trees and carpet the earth with pink and white. The centers of the blossoms swell and grow and color: cherries and apples, peaches and pears, figs which close the flower in the fruit. All California
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The meat turns dark and the crop shrivels on the ground.
And the pears grow yellow and soft. Five dollars a ton. Five dollars for forty fiftypound boxes; trees pruned and sprayed, orchards cultivated—pick the fruit, put it in boxes, load the trucks, deliver the fruit to the cannery—forty boxes for five dollars. We can 't do it. And the yellow fruit falls heavily to the ground and splashes on the ground.
The yellowjackets dig into the soft meat, and there is a smell of ferment and rot.
Then the grapes—we can 't make good wine. People can 't buy good wine. Rip the grapes from the vines, good grapes, rotten grapes, wasp-stung grapes. Press stems, press dirt and rot.
But there 's mildew and formic acid in the vats.
Add sulphur and tannic acid.
The smell from the ferment is not the rich odor of wine, but the smell of decay and chemicals. Oh, well. It has alcohol in it, anyway. They can get drunk.
The little farmers watched debt creep up on them like the tide. They sprayed the trees and sold no crop, they pruned and grafted and could not pick the crop. And the men of knowledge have worked, have considered, and the fruit is rotting on the ground, and the decaying mash in the wine vat is poisoning the air. And taste the wine—no grape flavor at all, just sulphur and tannic acid and alcohol.
This little orchard will be a part of a great holding next year, for the debt will have
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