Strengths In John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath

743 WordsAug 10, 20173 Pages
Do the needs of an individual family or group supersede the needs of the many? In The Grapes of Wrath written by the John Steinbeck, the readers see the strength that is needed to be a mother when outside forces rip a family apart. Ma Joad is the living representation of strength given her unique role in the family. Ma took an almost patriarchal role in the family and demonstrated that she was unique among other characters due to her strength, love, and family power. One of Ma Joad's most defining features is her overall mental strength. Throughout the story, her strength is shown time and time again as she tries to reach California with her family. An example of her strength is seen when the family looked in “terror at her strength”…show more content…
Not only does this show Ma’s love for Tom but it also shows the courage that it gives her. All in all, Ma used her love for her family to fuel her resolve to stick together as a family regardless of the cost. Many characters stood out during the story yet none ever broke the established family hierarchy except for Ma Joad. Ma did not completely break the family structure instead it was more akin to a momentary shift of power. The first time Ma demonstrates any form of power is during a meeting to see whether Jim Casy can go with the Joads to California. During said meeting, although Ma had no real power her “tone” was able to make Pa “ashamed” (Steinbeck 130). This on its did not show power instead it showed Ma’s influence on Pa when dealing with family affairs since her opinion was just as important. Later on in the story, Ma would take a more active role in family affairs. Not only did Ma become more active in order to keep the family together but she also took Pa’s power when she said: “I ain’t a-gonna go” which left Pa “amazed at the revolt” (Steinbeck 185). During this incident, Ma for the first time disobeyed not just Pa but the whole family and took command in order to keep the family from separating even a little. From this point forward Ma is essentially the Patriarch of the family taking over her husband's role as the head of the family. Thus it
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