Tom Joade walks along the street and notices the "land turtle" of the previous chapter. He picks it up and after walking some distance he runs into Jim Casy, a former preacher of Tom's childhood church. After conversing a moment, Casy explains to Tom his decision to cease preaching, a decision which he later admits to have been heavily influenced by his bad habit of taking young women "out in the grass" after prayer meetings. He justifies that his insatiable sexual apetite did not fare too well with his enormous responsibility as a preacher for spiritually enlightening these young women. Casy then moves on to propose his new ideology which holds that there is neither sin nor virtue but rather actions. To Casy, the human spirit is the Holy spirit.

The chapter then shifts focal concern to Tom, who reveals to the preacher the crime that landed him in prison. While both drunk, Tom got into a fight with another man, who stabs him. Tom instictively reacted by killing the man with a nearby shovel. Expressing little enthusiasm regarding the incident, Tom goes on to describe life in prison, where he received regular meals and baths. As Tom initiates his departure, he grants Casy's request and agrees to bring him along to the farm. When they arrive, the two are met with nothing but a deserted wasteland.

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