Wealth in the hands of a few is inconceivable to the Joads and their companions. When told that there’s a “newspaper fella near the coast, got a million acres,” Casy is incredulous. “What in hell can he do with a million acres?” Considering that degree of wealth, he concludes, “If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it ’cause he feels awful poor inside hisself.” Neither Casy nor his friend Ma is ever poor inside.

President Ma Joad wouldn’t cut food stamps. She wouldn’t deny education to immigrant children. She wouldn’t trim funds for the homeless. She would remind each American that lending a hand to those at the bottom is a quality of the species, Homo sapiens.

She would fire up the country with collective energy, too. “Maybe if we was all mad in the same way,” Ma offers to Tom when he first comes home. Ma’s notion of the American spirit would hardly be inherited privilege or wealth or capitalist fervor; as she puts it: “If you’re in trouble or hurt or need — go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help — the only ones.” Pulling together is the Joad way, pure American democracy.