Ma is the Man in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes Of Wrath" Essay

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A clear concept in John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath was the way families were run. At the beginning of the twentieth century, men led the family. They made the decisions and they made the money for the family while the women worked behind the scenes and kept everything going. What the men did not realize, or did not want to recognize, was that the women were the ones who were really in control. Though they did not take credit for it, they were the ones who bought and cooked the food the men ate, bore and reared the children the men helped create, and did everything they could to make a better life for themselves and their families. This changed once the Dust Bowl struck. Soon after, women took charge of the family affairs and slid into …show more content…
'They's too much of it to split it up to men's or women's work. You got stuff to do. Let me salt the meat.' " (Pg.146 - The Grapes of Wrath) I wholeheartedly agree with Casy's statement. Work is work, no matter the difficulty or nature of it. A man should be able to do a woman's job, and vice versa. Perhaps the other may even be able to do the job better than the person who did previously.
What I find amazing is that women did not even question their place. They just accepted things for the way they were and didn't question why things were like that. It was like they didn't even contemplate the idea that they could have a say in anything at all. Ma is a prime example of this. She has stood in the shadows and discreetly controlled the goings on for her whole life. An example of this is when Casy is being invited to join them on their move. "And then he stood, embarrassed by his own speech. Ma looked to Tom to speak, because he was a man, but Tom did not speak. She let him have the chance that was his right, and then she said 'Why, we'd be proud to have you.' " (Pg. 127) The degradation of women in this quote is clearly evident, and ridiculous. Tom is Ma's son, and yet she has to look to him to wait for him to speak before she is allowed to voice her opinion because of her gender. Neither age nor the fact that she gave birth to him can give her the right to speak her mind. On the flip side, Ma let him have his "right." She let him; as in allowed it to…