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View Full Version : Diner scene in ''Grapes of Wrath'' (1940)--what happened?


Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
03-02-2005, 01:11 PM
I asked this question several years ago, and did not get a satisfactory response. Here goes again:

There is a scene in this movie where Pa Joad goes into a diner to buy a loaf of bread. He's very insistent upon getting only 10˘ worth of bread, although they only sell 15˘ loaves. He ends up getting the 15˘ loaf for only 10˘, as well as two "penny candies" for one cent, when in truth they were really a nickel a piece.

After he leaves, some grumbling truckers leave the money for their meal, but apparently they didn't leave "real money" or enough money. The waitress/cashier looks over at the cook/manager and says something like, "Wouldja look at this?!" Then one of them mutters, "Truckers!"

So what happened? Fake money? Short on the tab? Stiffed the waitress?

Whatever "money", real or fake, it was definitely coins. The scene itself is, I think, attempting to show a contrast between the honorable poverty-stricken Joad family, and the dishonest comparatively well-off truckers. If this scene is in the book, maybe it's a little clearer.

Ilsa_Lund
03-02-2005, 01:24 PM
WAG: Wooden nickels?

pinkfreud
03-02-2005, 01:39 PM
In the book, it is clear that the truckers, far from having stiffed the waitress, have left a bonus because they appreciated the generosity that was shown to the Joads. The truckers leave fifty cents as payment for a piece of pie that only cost fifteen cents.

meow meow
03-02-2005, 01:41 PM
I took that the exact opposite way. It’s been awhile (too long! I love this book), but I thought that they left the waitress an unexpectedly big tip, on account of her generosity with the yowwans. Giving them the 5 cent candies for a penny. She said “Truckers!” In her gruff trucker waitress way, but really she was touched by THEIR generosity to her.

dang. i will be talkin' this way all day now. rosasharn! where'd you git to?

carnivorousplant
03-02-2005, 01:43 PM
From a web site concerning the novel:


The truckers leave two half dollars for two ten-cents cups of Java. Mae: "Truck drivers ... an' after them shitheels."

http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~stephan/Steinbeck/grapes.html

What does "shitheels" mean, poor country people?

Skywatcher
03-02-2005, 02:10 PM
What does "shitheels" mean, poor country people?At best. The literal meaning applies to those who go trodding through cow pastures wihtout cleaning their shoes afterwards.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
03-02-2005, 02:13 PM
The scene in the movie did not paint the truckers as heroes, but as scowling grouches who were kinda ticked that the waitress and cook were giving the Pa Joad a break on the bread and candy. It didn't seem obvious that they were overpaying, but they were paying with large coins, probably half-dollars, and that would have easily covered the Pa Joads price breaks.

meow meow
03-02-2005, 02:23 PM
Right. The truckers weren’t heroes. Nor the cook or the waitress. To me, the scene demonstrated something of the general feeling of the times, that the Okies were somehow less than human.

Zebra
03-02-2005, 02:56 PM
Of those times?


Don't people feel that way now?

Duke of Rat
03-02-2005, 02:58 PM
The scene in the movie did not paint the truckers as heroes, but as scowling grouches who were kinda ticked that the waitress and cook were giving the Pa Joad a break on the bread and candy. It didn't seem obvious that they were overpaying, but they were paying with large coins, probably half-dollars, and that would have easily covered the Pa Joads price breaks.


I've seen the movie several times and have always thought that the truckers, while seemingly grousing about it, left the money to make up for what Pa Joad was short. And the waitress was mockingly incredulous at their generousity. More like, "Would you get a load of those truckers, acting all gruff but really being a couple of big hearted ol' galoots". Something like that.

meow meow
03-02-2005, 02:59 PM
Of those times?


Don't people feel that way now?

good point.

USCDiver
03-02-2005, 04:13 PM
Leo Kottke does a song version of this story called (I think) "Here Comes That Rainbow Again." Very touching.

Rilchiam
03-07-2005, 06:32 AM
What does "shitheels" mean, poor country people?

Shitheels were uppity tourists who tended to stiff the waitress after complaining and demanding extra service.

I don't remember much about the movie, but I remember the scene in the book. A middle-aged couple, driving across country in their fancy sedan, stop for cokes and don't leave a tip. Mae, the waitress, clears the table while grumbling to herself about "shitheels". Two truckers come in and trade jokes with her and the owner. "Now you be careful front of a lady." "Ain't nothin' I ain't heard before!"

While the truckers are still there, an anonymous Okie (not Pa Joad) comes in with two small boys, wanting to buy a loaf of bread. Mae says they don't sell bread by the loaf, and why not get a sandwich? He can't afford a sandwich. The owner tells her to sell them the bread. Mae protests that they'll run out before the next shipment comes in. "Run out then, goddammit." Mae sells the farmer the bread, and before he puts his wallet away, he holds out a penny and asks how much the candy is. The rest of it is what meow meow says.

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