On the dusty road among the maize fields of Oklahoma is a man of about thirty. This is Tom Jowd. After serving time in prison for an accidental murder, he returns home to the farm. He leaves the prison ahead of schedule and therefore has no right to leave the state. On the farm, he must wait for a large family Jowd: grandfather with a grandmother, father with his mother, three brothers and two sisters. On the way, Tom meets former preacher Jehovah Jim Casey. They continue the path together. But Tom does not yet know that farmers are being driven from their plots. Owners are now unprofitable to lease land.
The tractor will process the field much faster than several farm families. People are ready to defend the land, which they consider their own. But in whom to shoot? In the tractor driver who opens your yard? Or the director of the bank that owns these lands? And people are forced to obey. With horror Tom sees an empty courtyard and a house littered to one side. Accidentally passing by a neighbor, says that the Jouds are preparing to leave for Uncle John’s farm. Tom and Casey go there. The family meets Tom with joy. The next day on a small second-hand truck the whole family sets out on their journey. Preacher Casey is traveling with them. They go to California in the hope of finding work and housing there, as promised in the flyers distributed everywhere. Having left on the main highway, their truck poured into the stream of refugees who are moving to the West.
It seems that the whole country is fleeing to the West from some enemy. When one family makes a halt, several more are always near. At night along the highway, worlds arise with their own laws, rights and punishments. A person who has food feeds the hungry. Chilled to warm. A family in which someone dies finds a handful of coins in the morning near the tent. And as we move towards the West, these worlds become more and more perfect and comfortable, because builders have experience. Here begins the transition from “I” to “we”. Western states are worried – some changes are close. And at that time half a million people are moving along the roads; one million more is seized by anxiety, ready to withdraw at any moment; another ten million are just showing signs of anxiety. And the tractors spend furrow after furrow on the deserted earth.
The closer to California, the more often people come on the road who run in the opposite direction. They tell terrible things. That the people have come in large numbers, the work is not enough, they pay pennies, which can not even be fed. But the hope that the country with the advertising picture – white houses among the green gardens – still exists, leads people forward. Finally, together having overcome all the difficulties of the long journey, the Jodes and Wilsons make their way to California.
Crossing the mountains, they make a halt at the river. Ahead is the last heavy crossing across the desert. And then the older brother Noah suddenly refuses to go any further and, without saying goodbye, leaves down the river, near which, as he says, you can always feed yourself. People have not yet had time to rest properly, and a sheriff appears near the tents. He tells everyone to get out of there. In the evening, the Jodas leave to cross the desert at night, while there is no sun. Wilsons remain – Wilson’s sick wife is not able to go any further.
When crossing the desert, the Jodi dies. She is buried in the city of Bakersfield to a public account. In California, the Jodi arrive, having only about forty dollars, and for a good funeral, which Grandma dreamed about, they do not have enough money.
Fertile country meets hostile crowds of hungry nomads. Owners arm themselves with a rifle, and who with a pickaxe, preparing to protect their property. Remuneration of labor falls. People who are hungry for work, ready to do anything to feed children, fill all the roads. And in their minds rage begins to wander.
The Jodi stop at a roadside camp called Gouverville. Here the family leaves Koni, the husband of the sister of Tom Rosa Saron. Pregnant Rose is very worried about his departure. On this day, a contractor is hiring in Hooverville, hiring workers to harvest fruit. He is accompanied by sheriff’s witnesses. One young man requires documents from the contractor. Those who are understood immediately accuse him of red propaganda and try to arrest him. A brawl begins, in which Tom participates. To prevent Tom from having trouble with the police, Casey’s preacher takes the blame. The learned take him away with him, promising to set fire to the camp. Late in the evening, the Jodas leave. They move to the south to find the government camp of Widpetch, which they heard about in Hooverville. People talk about government camps well. There self-government, the police do not go there. There even has hot water. There you can feel like a human being. At night, they are stopped by a group of armed men and demands that these damned Oki (that is, the Oklahomans) go in any other direction. Tom turns the truck, barely holding back, so as not to make a fight. While they are driving along country roads, the mother tries to calm Tom. She says that you do not have to worry about these people, because people can not be destroyed, he will always live. Tom is surprised by her reasoning. he will always live. Tom is surprised by her reasoning. he will always live. Tom is surprised by her reasoning.
In the government camp, there are really excellent conditions for living. But there is no work in the vicinity. People are trying to understand what to do in order to live humanly. Among them there are agitators who call for creating alliances, holding on to each other, because the authorities are able to fight only with individuals. In California, a good land. In the year of harvest, branches bend under the weight of the fruit that comes in and the vine is heavy from the bunches of grapes. But the purchase prices are too low. Small farmers can not always harvest, they do not have the money to pay for cleaning, even at the lowest price. Only large owners with canneries can survive. And the crops are rotting, and the smell of putrefaction is hovering over the country. And children die from malnutrition, because food is suppressed intentionally. The mountains of fruit are burning, poured with kerosene. Potatoes are thrown into the rivers. People come to pick up food, but security forces them away. And in the eyes, and in the souls of hungry people, heavy clusters of anger are poured and ripening, and they will not ripen for a long time now.
Soon the Jodys leave Widpitch. In search of work, they travel north. Suddenly, police on motorcycles block their way and offer work. The car turns off the highway, and Tom is surprised to see standing along the road and something chanting workers. Accompanied by motorcyclists, the Jowd truck, along with other cars, drives into the gate of the fruit picker camp. The whole family starts working on collecting peaches. After working all day, they earn only for themselves for dinner. The prices in the local shop are much higher than in other places, but the seller is not the owner of the shop, he is also just a wage worker, he does not set prices. When a mother takes food from a store, she does not have enough money for sugar. She tries to persuade the seller to let her borrow. In the end, he lets her sugar, putting his money in the cash register. Leaving, the mother tells him that she knows for sure,
In the evening, Thomas goes out to wander around the camp. Having seen a lonely standing tent, he approaches her and finds the preacher Casey there. Casey tells Tom about his prison impressions. In the prison, says Casey, most of the good people fall in need, who are forced to steal, all the evil in need. Workers in the camp, Casey explains, are on strike, because the pay for work is unreasonably reduced, and the Jodi and those who come along with them are at the same time acting as strikebreakers. Casey tries to persuade Tom to speak in the camp in front of the workers, so that they too start striking. But Tom is sure that people who are hungry and finally receive at least some work people will not go for it. Suddenly, workers hear crouching steps. Tom and Casey leave the tent and try to hide in the dark, but stumble upon a man armed with a stick. It’s Casey who is looking for it. Calling him a red bastard, a stranger strikes, and Casey falls dead. Not remembering himself, Tom grabs a stick from the enemy and strikes him with all his strength. An unfeeling body falls at Tom’s feet, Tom manages to escape, but he too is injured – his nose is broken. The next day Tom does not go out. From the conversations in the camp it becomes known that the man beaten by Tom is dead. The police are looking for a murderer with a disfigured face. The strike was stopped, and the work charge was immediately halved. Nevertheless, in the garden people are fighting for the right to work. From the conversations in the camp it becomes known that the man beaten by Tom is dead. The police are looking for a murderer with a disfigured face. The strike was stopped, and the work charge was immediately halved. Nevertheless, in the garden people are fighting for the right to work. From the conversations in the camp it becomes known that the man beaten by Tom is dead. The police are looking for a murderer with a disfigured face. The strike was stopped, and the work charge was immediately halved. Nevertheless, in the garden people are fighting for the right to work.
Ten-year-old Winfield gets sick from malnutrition. Rose Saron soon give birth. The family must find a good place. Hiding Tom among the things at the bottom of the truck, the Jodes safely get out of the camp and drive country roads. Closer to the night, they get an ad that cotton pickers are needed. They stay, settle in a freight car. Earnings are good, enough not only for food, but for clothes. Tom all this time hides in the thickets on the bank of the river, where his mother is carrying him food. But one day, a small Ruth, playing with contemporaries, utters that her big brother killed a man and disappears. Tom already thinks that staying in this position is dangerous for him and for the whole family. He is going to leave and do the same thing that the late Casey, who became an agitator from the preacher, is to raise the workers to fight.
Cotton picking ends. The work will now not be until spring. The family did not have any money at all. The rainy season begins. The river comes out of the banks, and water begins to fill the trailers. Father, Uncle John and a few others are trying to build a dam. On this day, Rosa Sarona gives birth to a dead child. The river breaks through the dam. Then the mother decides that it is necessary to leave somewhere where it is drier. After walking a little along the road, they see a shed on the hillock and rush there. In the shed lies a man dying of hunger. The boy, his son, begs in despair to save his father. The mother looks inquiringly into the eyes of Rose Saron, whose breast after birth has swelled with milk. Rosa understands her gaze, lies silently beside the dying man, pulls his head to his chest, and her face is illuminated by a mysterious happy smile.