Grapes Of Wrath Character Analysis

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In novels and books, characters are faced with a challenging journey throughout life filled with obstacles and tribulations. Characters often change and develop because of these trials and are notorious for coming out stronger in a way whether it’s physically or mentally. In Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, Ma Joad starts out as the typical wife and mother in the 1930s, quietly in the background with an underlying strength, but as the story goes on she develops a mental and physical backbone through the trials she faces on the road and in California and ultimately holds the most strength in working to keep the family together. John Steinbeck builds a compelling supporting character, Ma, by using strong dialogue and descriptive…show more content…
Ma establishes her role as a cook, thus reinforcing her moral obligation to support her family with comfort of food. Also, her obligation to act as the cook shows her tradition to follow the old social American norm that women should stay home and cook for the men. Additionally, Ma reveals her high moral conduct and dignity, she knows the family will have to sell their personal possessions to survive the trek to California. When the men come back from selling the family’s belongings, Ma openly displays regret, but she holds in her anger and accepts the humiliation since the family has sold everything to find more opportunities. The inevitability that Ma’s moral code has to be broken reinforces Ma as a compelling character by demonstrating inner conflicts and emotional baggage. The road to California is a long and perilous path that brings change to the whole Joad family-- especially to Ma who develops intense strength and character along the journey by adapting to the new situation and keeping the family unified. Before the Joads embark on their trip to California, the family has a meeting to devise a plan. The men in the family are the ones with opinion and power, squatting and discussing with each other while Ma “took [her] [place] behind the squatting men” (108-109). She does not have a voice in any decisions the men make about what will happen to the family-- she must comply with what the men say. However, Ma
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