The man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat. The thunder of the cylinders sounded through the country, became one with the air and the earth, so that earth and air muttered in sympathetic vibration. The driver could not control it-straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could swerve the cat', but the driver's hands could not twitch because the monster that built the tractors, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow got into the driver's hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him-goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest.
(John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)

What is cat’? Is it displaying a certain pronunciation for cat or does it mean something else?

1 Answer 1


It refers to the tractor:

The Free Dictionary:

6) cat - a large tracked vehicle that is propelled by two endless metal belts; frequently used for moving earth in construction and farm work

The most famous tractor company in the world is Caterpillar Tractor, known as "cat" for short, which is why the term is sometimes used to mean "tractor."

  • Thank you I get the meaning. And one another question, actually in the original question: what does cat' (with apostrophe) mean? (* Oh, your name has Cat!)
    – Listenever
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 11:00
  • 7
    @Listenever The word derives from the brand/manufacturer Caterpillar, whose founder invented the tracked tractor; Steinbeck may employ the apostrophe to indicate it's a contraction. Commented May 16, 2013 at 11:04
  • @Listenever :")) Yeah! I am a Persian! Honestly I only could find this and surely StoneyB as a guru can complete my answer and correct it if needed. Commented May 16, 2013 at 11:13
  • 1
    @PersianCat I’ve got what I needed wholly from your answer to Mr. StoneyB’s adding. Yes, He is really a guru. Thank you, you all.
    – Listenever
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 11:20
  • @Listenever You are welcome! I learned a lot from your questions. ;) Commented May 16, 2013 at 11:22

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