6

They sat silent in the coal-black cave of vines. Ma said, “How’m I gonna know ’bout you? They might kill ya’ and I wouldn’ know. They might hurt ya. How’m I gonna know?” Tom laughed uneasily, “Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one–an’ then–”
“Then what, Tom?”
“Then it don’t matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where–wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’–I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build–why, I’ll be there. See? God, I’m talkin’ like Casy. Comes of thinkin’ about him so much. Seems like I can see him sometimes.”
“I don’ un’erstan’,” Ma said. “I don’ really know.”
“Me neither,” said Tom. “It’s jus stuff I been thinkin’ about. Get thinkin’ a lot when you ain’t movin’ aroun’. You got to get back, Ma.”
“You take the money then.”
He was silent for a moment. “Awright,” he said.
“An’, Tom, later–when it’s blowed over, you’ll come back. You’ll find us?”
“Sure,” he said. “Now you better go. Here, gimme your han’.” He guided her toward the entrance. Her fingers clutched his wrist. He swept the vines aside and followed her out. “Go up to the field till you come to a sycamore on the edge, an’ then cut acrost the stream. Good-by.”
“Good-by,” she said, and she walked quickly away. Her eyes were wet and burning, but she did not cry.
(John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, p439)

It seems it refers to cotton picking and blowed takes a role of linking-verb, so the highlighted part means when the picking is over. But Tom has to go out as a fugitive and his family are just itinerant workers. So this seems their last face-to-face talking for Tom’s mother, as is with her other son Noah and her son-in-law. Then what does her saying mean?

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    It's worth explicitly making the point that blowed over is ungrammatical. Per Jim's answer and that NGram, the correct verb form is blown over. Steinbeck is emphasising the fact that Ma is uneducated and poorly-spoken. – FumbleFingers May 26 '13 at 15:45
  • I wouldn't say "poorly-spoken" myself. "Blowed-over" is certainly a regional colloquialism, and Steinbeck is using the regional dialect to indicate, in the portrayal, the lack of education (as you said). The regional dialect he gives them also pigeonholed the speaker, in that time, as low class and ignorant. – Corvus B Jun 13 '17 at 16:30
  • @FumbleFingers It's dialectal or nonstandard, not ungrammatical. – user67444 Aug 10 '17 at 5:54
  • @user67444: If you're going to say that dialectal or nonstandard forms are not by definition "ungrammatical", that would maker the concept of "grammatical" pretty meaningless. – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '17 at 13:32
  • @FumbleFingers No, it wouldn't. A sentence like "Eat dog cat" is truly ungrammatical. If a native speaker recognizes a certain form as grammatical, then it is. This is the whole basis of descriptivism. The use of the past-tense form instead of the past participle is well-attested and fairly common in the speech of many native English speakers. – user67444 Aug 10 '17 at 15:12
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Blown over is a weather mataphor- after a storm has blown over. It is a reference here to the storm over the murders of Jim Casey and the policeman. So Tom has to go away and lay low or hide until supposedly things have calmed down and he can return without fear of arrest or worse.

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