Chapter 5 is an intercalary chapter that describes the plight of the tenant farmers. The chapter alludes to several recurring themes which aid Steinbeck in his exploration of the mid twentieth century American society. Among those themes are striking contrasts between the agrarian way of life and the modern methods of farming, the REMARKABLE sense of futility which plagued the tenant farmers in their struggle for achieving a subsistance lifestyle. Furthermore, Steinbeck presents within chapter 5 the human predicament involved in the national disaster of the dust storm.

Steinbeck expresses his opposition to the corrupt banking system of the time by emphasizing the great misfortunes of the tenant farmers. He declares the banks to be synonymous with a monster in that they focus entirely on making profits and neglect the issues of their patrons. In doing so he introduces the inhumanity of capitalism.