It is cotton season, and handbills advertising cotton-picking jobs are visible everywhere. If they cannot provide bags of their own to carry the cotton they pick, migrants who take the jobs are forced to pay for the bags on credit.
The workers are desperate to save some money for the impending winter, but it is often difficult to earn money picking cotton because there are so many workers competing with one another. Moreover, unscrupulous plantation owners are known to use crooked scales to weigh the cotton.
The Joads become fairly comfortable in their boxcar on the plantation, which they share with another family, the Wainwrights. These families are fortunate; later arrivals have been forced to camp in tents nearby, which gives the boxcar occupants a higher social status.
Ma advises Tom to travel far away, and offers him seven dollars to take with him. Tom reveals that in his time alone in the wilderness, he has been thinking about Casy and the preacher’s philosophy. Tom tells Ma that he feels a calling to unite his soul with everyone else’s soul, and wants to help his people by continuing the organizing work that Casy did.
Back at the boxcar, Al declares to the family that he and the Wainwrights’ sixteen-year-old daughter, Agnes, are going to get married. The families rejoice together. Rosasharn is discomforted by the news, and is determined to try and pick cotton the next day.
At the cotton-picking job the next day, the fields are swarmed with workers, and are picked clean by eleven in the morning. As the family drives back to their boxcar, a heavy rain begins. Rosasharn shivers violently and complains of feeling ill, and the family rushes to make her comfortable.