Animals often embody the same important character traits that are valued in humans, and people’s treatment of animals is often used to illustrate human capacity for both kindness and arbitrary cruelty. For example, the intrepid land turtle that appears in chapter three represents the unyielding resolve that the migrants display when traveling to California. Like the Okies, the turtle is shown both kindness and malice by humans: some swerve to avoid it on the road while others swerve to hit it. Additionally, Tom’s
moral maturation is shown through his treatment of animals. Early in the story, he goes out of his way to kill a rattlesnake on the road, but later on, he reprimands Al
for swerving to hit a gopher snake.