Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break. Then they asked, What’ll we do? And the men replied, I don’t know. But it was all right. The women knew it was all right, and the watching children knew it was all right. Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 1. Themes of family, dignity, power of unity, survival and perseverance are addressed in this passage. It spells out how individuals in the family depend on each other when the sharecroppers are faced with a natural disaster. Relieved women and children get reassurance from the men that they will not be broken by the environmental destruction of the Dust Bowl. Instead of being beaten down, the men react with anger and resistance. Human dignity is maintained. The families believe that they will survive as long as the men can hold it together and not give up.