The Grapes Of Wrath By Ma Joad

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Ma Joad: Keeping her family in line since 1939 In a time where women were considered inferior, The Grapes of Wrath uses secondary characters, specifically Ma Joad, to demonstrate a woman taking charge in a family setting, and the relationships of such a woman with others. Ma helps amplify the theme of feminism and women’s rights in different scenarios. Her relationships with Pa, her daughter Rose of Sharon, and even herself all convey different elements of an extraordinary leader and an amazing mother. Ma and Pa’s relationship throughout The Grapes of Wrath defies the idea of a normal couple in the era of the Dust Bowl. They are represented very much as equals through the conflicts their family has to face, contrary to other couples, where the husband is in charge. Ma takes the lead in many situations and Pa respects, and maybe even fears her opinions. Ma commandeers decision-making and often causes conflicts with her strong beliefs. This passage conveys the dynamic of their relationship very early on in the book: “Pa broke in, ‘But s’pose there just ain’t room?’ He had twisted his neck to look up at her, and he was ashamed. Her tone had made him ashamed. [...] She stopped, and Pa turned back, and his spirit was raw from the whipping.” (Steinbeck 132) Not only does Pa look to Ma for advice, but he also notices that she has a higher authority over the family than he does. It becomes obvious as the book goes on that he is not well equipped to deal with the situations that
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