The Grapes of Wrath

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Uncle John is Pa Joad’s brother. John is wracked with guilt over the long-past death of his young wife, whose complaints of pain he dismissed as harmless whining. He tries to atone for his sin by living as selflessly as possible; however, he occasionally gives in to temptation and gets drunk.

Uncle John Quotes in The Grapes of Wrath

The The Grapes of Wrath quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle John or refer to Uncle John. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Grapes of Wrath published in 2002.
Chapter 30 Quotes

“Go down an' tell 'em. Go down in the street an' rot an' tell 'em that way. That's the way you can talk. Don' even know if you was a boy or a girl. Ain't gonna find out. Go on down now, an' lay in the street. Maybe they'll know then.”

Related Characters: Uncle John (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Stillborn Baby
Page Number: 448
Explanation and Analysis:

Rosasharn's baby has been born stillborn, the ultimate sign of how the conditions in which the Joads find themselves afford so little possibility for life. Here, Uncle John puts the dead infant into a box and sends it down the current. He knows that, as things stand, the baby's death will remain unknown and unacknowledged by the world outside the desperate migrant camps. By sending it down into town, he hopes that the body will bear witness to the desperation of these workers, and their despair in the face of apathy and inhumanity on the part of other people. If others finally "know," perhaps, Uncle John will have done his part in sharing these people's experiences with the world, and in helping to change their reality, even if only slightly and slowly.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Grapes of Wrath quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire The Grapes of Wrath LitChart as a printable PDF.
The grapes of wrath.pdf.medium

Uncle John Character Timeline in The Grapes of Wrath

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle John appears in The Grapes of Wrath. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...Tom’s folks were forced out of their home and are now staying with Tom’s Uncle, John. The Joads plan to pick cotton in order to earn enough money to drive to... (full context)
Chapter 8
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Tom and Casy continue towards Uncle John’s house. Tom has been awoken early by Muley, who fearfully warns them to get off... (full context)
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
The two men arrive at Uncle John’s house. Set up in Uncle John’s yard is a modified jalopy with a truck bed... (full context)
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
Finally, Tom inquires about the other members of his family. Uncle John has gone into town with Ruthie and Winfield, Tom’s youngest siblings. Rosasharn (short for “Rose... (full context)
Chapter 10
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...be happy to have him, and they’ll decide if there’s room when Al, Pa, Uncle John, Ruthie, and Winfield get back from selling their possessions in town. (full context)
Chapter 13
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...and the Joads throw together a slapdash funeral with the Wilsons’ help. Pa and Uncle John debate reporting Grampa’s death legally, which requires a forty dollar fee, but ultimately decide to... (full context)
Chapter 18
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...willpower; she stayed on the truck all night with Granma’s corpse out of love. Uncle John worries whether Ma has sinned, and Casy assures him that she has done nothing wrong. (full context)
Chapter 20
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
The family takes Granma’s body to the coroner’s office. Pa and Uncle John are ashamed to be unable to afford a proper funeral ceremony. (full context)
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Seeing Casy give himself up to protect Tom causes Uncle John anguish, and John needs to get drunk to cope with it. Ma and Pa give... (full context)
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Tom goes to look for Uncle John. Tom discovers his uncle singing hymns off the side of a road. John doesn’t want... (full context)
Chapter 22
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
At the camp, Pa, Al, and Uncle John prepare to search for work. As Ma cooks breakfast, the camp manager, Jim Rawley, comes... (full context)
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Pa, Al, and Uncle John come home empty-handed: they couldn’t find work. Ma is hopeful, trusting that Tom has found... (full context)
Chapter 30
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
The baby is placed in an apple box, and Uncle John sends it down the current, hoping that it will “go down an’ tell ‘em. Go... (full context)