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Chapter Nine: This chapter describes the process of selling belongings. The items pile up in the yard, selling for ridiculously low prices. Whatever is not sold must be burned, even items of sentimental value that simply cannot be taken on the journey for lack of space.
The sale of the items is a demeaning process, for the farmers must accept ridiculously low prices for their now outdated possessions. Steinbeck is explicit about the meaning of the sales: he states that "you're not buying only junk, you're buying junked lives." This is yet another example of the dehumanizing effects of the Depression foreclosures. The situation is hopeless: there is no possibility for starting over, for the people who are leaving are now imbued with bitterness and loss. They must even give up those objects that have sentimental value out of simply necessity, yet another example of the loss of human characteristics.