In the little houses the tenant people sifted their belongings and the belongings of their fathers and of their grandfathers. Picked over their possessions for the journey to the West. The men were ruthless because the past had been spoiled, but the women knew how the past would cry to them in the coming days.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 9. In preparation for the migration west, the tenant farmers sift through their belongings to decide what to disgard or bring with them on the journey. They know that the past is dead and they must move on. But the women on the other hand know the past will come back to haunt them. Steinbeck personifies the past by giving it the human ability to cry.