Looking back after seventy-seven years, readers find the most haunting passage in The Grapes of Wrath to be Tom Joad's famous farewell to his mother, the “I'll be there” passage. Although Leslie Fiedler dismissed it as “fashionable left-wing soapbox rhetoric,” he misses the point. The death of the socialist dream conjures a ghost, and a ghost, by definition, “never dies, it remains always to come and to come back.” A specter is haunting The Grapes of Wrath—the specter of Tom Joad.

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