Chapter 26 was certainly the height of the story. Some of the biggest themes and ideas were put into action through all that had happened. At the beginning of the chapter, the Joads decide to leave the government camp in hopes of finding work up north. They were told that there is work picking peaches in a ranch. As they get there, they do happen to find work for 5 cents a box. As the chapter progresses, Tom wanders off in the middle of the night and comes across a tent on the outskirts of the ranch. He happens to find his friend Casey there, along with a few other men. Casey had stated that he and the other men were on strike, because the ranch was planning on dropping down to 2.5 cents as soon as more people arrived. Unfortunately, a group of men find this camp, and are aware of their strategy. The preacher was killed, and Tom managed to injure the man who had killed him, but gets away injured himself. His family finds out about what had happened, and decide to leave the ranch in order to protect Tom.
One of the biggest themes pointed out in this chapter is that it is a horrible crime to take advantage of the poor for somebodies own greed. Before Casy was killed, he had said some of the most meaningful words written in this book.
"Casy stared blindly at the light. He breathed heavily. "Listen," he said. "You fellas don' know what you're doin'. You're helpin' to starve kids.""
Another important theme was that it is important to keep fighting for what you believe, although you may be in the odds. This was also brought up by Casy.
"He says, 'French Revolution - all them fellas that figured her out got their heads chopped off. Always that way,' he says.'Jus' as natural as rain. You didn't do it for fun no way. doin' it 'cause you have to. 'Cause it's you. Look a Washington, he says. 'Fit the Revolution, an' after, them sons-a-bitches turned on him. An' Lincoln the same. Same folks yellin' to kill 'em. Natural as rain.'"
Question 1: Do you think Casy knew his death was coming?
Question 2: Why do you think the ranch planned to drop the wages down to 2.5 cents?
This chapter compares with chapter 20 in the sense that the themes point out what those above the poor are willing to do in order to keep the poor at their position.
However, it contrasts with chapter 24 because the chapter shows how important it is work as a community to make the world better. But in chapter 26, Steinbeck points out how completely opposite the country was at this time.