In this brief chapter, we see vacant houses throughout the landscape of the Dust Bowl. Gophers, mice, and bats move into the places where people once lived. "A dust settled on the floors, and only mouse and weasel and cat tracks disturbed it." The land, once alive, has become the graveyard Muley Graves says he is haunting (see Chapter 6).
This deserted scene, void of any human life to care for the land, is contrasted with the tractor that is now used. It is cold and indifferent to the needs of the soil and the man who controls it has no ties to the land.
Steinbeck is critical of mechanized methods of cotton production that has displaced the tenant.