THE MAN: Fact of the matter, Muley, after what them dusters done to the land, the tenant system don’t work no more. It don’t even break even, much less show a profit. One man on a tractor can handle twelve or fourteen of these places. You just pay him a wage and take all the crop.
MULEY: But we couldn’t do on any less ‘n what our share is now. (looking around) The chillun ain’t gettin’ enough to eat as it is, and they’re so ragged we’d be shamed if ever’body else’s chillun wasn’t the same way.
THE MAN: (irritably) I can’t help that. All I know is I got my orders. They told me to tell you you got to get off, and that’s what I’m telling you.
MULEY: You mean get offa my own land?
THE MAN: Now don’t go blaming me. It ain’t my fault.
SON: Whose fault is it?
THE MAN: You know who owns the land — the Shawnee Land and Cattle Company.
MULEY: Who’s the Shawnee Land and Cattle Comp’ny?
THE MAN: I ain’t nobody. It’s a company.
SON: They got a pres’dent, ain’t they? They got somebody that knows what a shotgun’s for, ain’t they?
THE MAN: But it ain’t his fault, because the bank tells him what to do.
SON: (angrily) All right. Where’s the bank?
THE MAN: (fretfully) Tulsa. But what’s the use of picking on him? He ain’t anything but the manager, and half crazy hisself trying to keep up with his orders from the east!
MULEY: (bewildered) Then who do we shoot?
THE MAN: (stepping on the starter) Brother, I don’t know. If I did, I’d tell you. But I just don’t know who’s to blame!
MULEY: (angrily) Well, I’m right here to tell you, mister, ain’t nobody going to push me off my land! Grampa took up this land seventy years ago. My pa was born here. We was all born on it, and some of us got killed on it, and some died on it. And that’s what makes it ourn — bein’ born on it, and workin’ on it, and dyin’ on it — and not no piece of paper with writin’ on it… (breaks down) So jus’ come on and try to push me off…
DAVIS: I don’t like nobody drawin’ a bead on me!
MULEY: Then what are you doin’ this kind a’ thing for? against your own people?
DAVIS: For three dollars a day, that’s what I’m doin’ it for. I got two little kids. I got a wife and my wife’s mother. Them people got to eat. Fust an on’y thing I got to think about is my own folks. What happens to other folks is their lookout.
TOM: Ma, they comes a time when a man gets mad.
MA: Tom — you tol’ me — you promised you wasn’t like that. You promised me.
TOM: I know, Ma. I’m a tryin’. If it was the law they was workin’ with, we could take it. But it ain’t the law. They’re workin’ away at our spirits. They’re tryin’ to make us cringe an’ crawl. They’re workin’ on our decency.
MA: You promised, Tommy.
TOM: I’m a-tryin’, Ma. Honest I am.
FRANK: This the fella you been talkin’ about?
CASY: That’s him. What you doin’ here, Tommy?
TOM: Workin’. Pickin’ peaches. But I seen a bunch a fellas yellin’ when we come in, so I come out to see what’s goin’ on. What’s it all about?
FRANK: This here’s a strike.
TOM: (puzzled) Well, fi’ cents a box ain’t much, but a fella can eat.
FRANK: Fi’ cents! They payin’ you fi’ cents?
TOM: Sure. We made a buck since midday.
CASY: (after a long silence) Lookie, Tom. We come to work here. They tell us it’s gonna be fi’ cents. But they was a whole lot of us, so the man says two an’ a half cents. Well, a fella can’t even eat on that, an’ if he got kids… (after a pause) So we says we won’t take it. So they druv us off. Now they’re payin’ you five — but when they bust this strike, ya think they’ll pay you five?
TOM: I dunno. Payin’ five now.
CASY: (soberly) I don’t expeck we can las’ much longer — some a’ the folk ain’t et for two days. You goin’ back tonight?
TOM: I aim to.
CASY: Well, tell the folks inside how it is, Tom. Tell ’em they’re starvin’ us and stabbin’ theirself in the back. An’ as sure as God made little apples it’s goin’ back to two an’ a half jus’ as soon as they clear us out.
FRANK: (suddenly) You hear sump’n?
TOM: I’ll tell ’em. But I don’t know how. Never seen so many guys with guns. Wouldn’t even let us talk today.
CASY: Try an’ tell ’em, Tom. They’ll get two an’ a half, jus’ the minute we’re gone. An’ you know what that is? That’s one ton a’ peaches picked an’ carried for a dollar. That way you can’t even buy food enough to keep you alive! Tell ’em to come out with us, Tom! Them peaches is ripe. Two days out an’ they’ll pay all of us five!
TOM: They won’t. They’re a-gettin’ five an’ they don’t care about nothin’ else.
CASY: But jus’ the minute they ain’t strike-breakin’, they won’t get no five!
FRANK: (bitterly) An’ the nex’ thing you know, you’ll be out, because they got it all figgered down to a T — until the harvest is in you’re a migrant worker — afterwards, just a bum.
TOM: Five they’re a-gettin’ now, an’ that’s all they’re int’rested in. I know exackly what Pa’d say. He’d jus’ say it wasn’t none a’ his business.
CASY: (reluctantly) I guess that’s right. Have to take a beatin’ before he’ll know.
TOM: We was outta food! Tonight we had meat — not much, but we had it! Think Pa’s gonna give up his meat on account a’ other fellas? An’ Rosasharn needs milk. Think Ma’s gonna starve that baby jus’ cause a bunch a fellas is yellin’ outside a gate?
CASY: (sadly) Got to learn, like I’m a-learnin’. Don’t know it right yet myself, but I’m tryin’ to find out. That’s why I can’t ever be a preacher again. Preacher got to know. (shaking his head) I don’t. I got to ask.
TOM: (thoughtfully) You know what I been thinkin’ about, Ma? About Casy. About what he said, what he done, an’ about how he died. An’ I remember all of it.
MA: He was a good man.
TOM: I been thinkin’ about us, too — about our people livin’ like pigs, an’ good rich land layin’ fallow, or maybe one fella with a million acres while a hundred thousand farmers is starvin’. An’ I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together an’ yelled —
MA: (frightened) Tommy, they’ll drive you, an’ cut you down like they done to Casy.
TOM: They gonna drive me anyways. Soon or later they’ll get me, for one thing if not another. Until then…
MA: You don’t aim to kill nobody, Tom!
TOM: No, Ma. Not that. That ain’t it. But long as I’m an outlaw, anyways, maybe I can do sump’n. Maybe I can just find out sump’n. Just scrounge around an’ try to find out what it is that’s wrong, an’ then see if they ain’t sump’n could be done about it. (worriedly) But I ain’t thought it out clear, Ma. I can’t. I don’t know enough.
MA: (after a pause) How’m I gonna know ’bout you? They might kill you an’ I wouldn’t know. They might hurt you. How’m I gonna know?
TOM: (laughing uneasily) Well, maybe it’s like Casy says. A fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big soul — the one big soul — the one big soul that belongs to everybody — an’ then…
MA: Then what, Tom?
TOM: Then it don’t matter. Then I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be ever’where — wherever your look. Wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up on a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad — an’ I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our people eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build, why, I’ll be there too.
MA: (slowly) I don’t understan’ it, Tom.
TOM: (drily) Me neither. (rising) It’s just stuff I been thinkin’ about. Gimme you hand, Ma. Good-by.
[Excerpts from the screenplay by Nunnally Johnson based on the novel by John Steinbeck.]