The Grapes Of Wrath By John Steinbeck

1604 Words Apr 26th, 2016 7 Pages
The Great Depression was a time of instability and fear for millions of Americans. Thousands lost their jobs and livelihoods, and while many gave in to desperation and fright, thousands more stood up in the face of terror and took their place of power. In the case of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, these everyday heroes were women. By intermingling themes of nurture and power, portrays a shift toward matriarchal structure in the Great Depression era.
Steinbeck first introduces the power structures of the Joad family just before they set off on their journey to California. The squatter’s circle not only introduces the land as a source of power for the men, it also provides a dramatic contrast for the dynamics of the family at the conclusion of the book. By this point, Ma has taken over giving directions, however she is clearly motivated by motherly instinct. Her growth is noted by Professor Lorelei Cederstrom, as she writes “Before the journey, Ma was just one voice among many in making group decisions. As the novel progresses, she becomes more dominant. She decides when they will stop or go on.” (Cederstrom 90). Steinbeck exemplifies her transformation as he writes “ ‘Goin’ someplace where it’s dry. Go to. You fellas ain’t had dry clothes on for two day.’ ” (Steinbeck 576). Not only is Ma Joad making the decisions, but she’s making them for the good of the group in relation to their immediate needs. The needs that take precedent present a nurturing instinct at…
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