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,…show more content…
In the rare case that Pa tries to take charge against Ma’s will, she fights back with fervour: “The whole group watched the revolt. They watched Pa, waiting for him to break into fury. They watched his lax hands to see the fists form. And Pa’s anger did not rise, and his hands hung limply at his sides. And in a moment the group knew Ma had won. And Ma knew it too.” (Steinbeck 218) The quote is extremely powerful, as it draws parallels back to the farmer families that look to the men to take over a situation: “The women knew it was all right, and the watching children knew it was all right. Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole.” (Steinbeck 6) The Joads are rooted in this mentality as well, so they look to Pa to see him take control or reprimand Ma. However, contrary to the farmer families, Ma and Pa are not portrayed as submissive and dominant. Their characters are evenly matched, although Pa sometimes does not appreciate how outspoken Ma can be. With this well-developed character, John Steinbeck proved himself a pioneer of his time; there was no one of that era that would dare portray a husband and wife in such an equal setting. Having such self-confidence is something that Ma tried to instill in her daughter time and time again. Throughout The Grapes of Wrath, Ma attempts to teach Rose of Sharon how to be self-sufficient after she is
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