Torgas Valley. Rich farmland full of apple orchards some 150 miles southeast of the city (and closely resembling California’s real Salinas Valley). Mac tells Jim that “Torgas is a little valley, and it’s mostly apple orchards. Most of it’s owned by a few men. . . . when the apples are ripe the crop tramps come in and pick them.” Later, Steinbeck describes one orchard where the pickers are working: “The orchard was alive. The branches of the trees shook under the ladders. The overripes dropped with dull plops to the ground underneath the trees. Somewhere, hidden in a tree-top, a whistling virtuoso trilled.” Figuratively, this is an evocation of the innocence of the Garden of Eden before the Fall. The title of the novel is actually taken from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), which describes the forces of the fallen angels in league with Satan and, in the line Steinbeck uses as his epigraph, “In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven.” The Torgas Valley is being linked with Milton’s allegory of the figures of good and evil battling in a Christian Heaven, as well as with the mythology of the Garden of Eden.
Anderson place. Ranch owned by the one grower in the valley sympathetic to the workers. When the strike pushes the fruit pickers off other farms, they set up their camp on land owned by Mr. Anderson for the duration of the strike, which will include pitched battles with scabs and confrontations with local vigilantes. Later, the vigilantes burn down Anderson’s barn and his crop, killing his hunting dogs in the process. In the final confrontation, Jim Nolan is shot by the vigilantes and becomes a Christ figure. On the last page of the novel, Mac is using Jim’s murder to rally the disheartened strikers: “This guy didn’t want nothing for himself.”
Torgas. Small town that is the center of life in the valley. Many of the confrontations in the novel between strikers and those leagued against them (owners, police, and scabs) occur in this town, including a funeral march for another murdered organizer, but the town is only sketchily described. The central symbolic struggle in the novel is really between those who own property and those who can only work it, a theme Steinbeck would develop on the broader canvas of The Grapes of Wrath three years later.