The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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A common theme in John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath is the social commentary in promoting the norm gender stereotypes. In Steinbeck’s novel the typical stereotype that has been played throughout history is of women’s obedience to men. The setting in the novel takes place in the 1930’s on a farmers’ ranch in Oklahoma. During this time was the Great Depression, this caused many families to move westward to California. The men, as head of their households were the ones to make the decisions for the family or also known as the norm gender stereotypes. The more specific examples are how women do housework while the men make family decisions. It is soon later addressed by Steinbeck’s social commentary how the women now make decisions in the family and take charge. First, Steinbeck presents the typical stereotype by introducing a character named Ma, the matriarch of the Joad family. When a male quest offers to help her, she exclaims. “Leave me to salt the meat…its women’s work” (Steinbeck 146). This is only said because she refuses help from a man who sees her tirelessly working, and multitasking on many things. The typical stereotype job for a woman is to do the housework and obey orders from the head of the family. If a man is seen doing those certain activities it is considered bad on the woman for not doing her job properly and degrading for the man performing them. This demonstrates the typical stereotype of women that it is seen as their duty to do
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