The Power of Women in the Grapes of Wrath

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Women are typically known for holding families together. When times get rough, women are the foundation to the family and help keep things together. A woman poses different qualities that can help keep the family strong. These qualities can be categorized in the four archetypes of a woman. The idea of the woman archetype is presented by Carl Jung. The first is Mother Nature, the very physical aspect and the second is the virgin, which represents the spiritual aspect of the archetype. The third is the young, the physical state while the fourth is the old witch possessing the spiritual side of the woman archetype. The four women in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath represent these four archetypes and take on responsibilities that, in the end, help the family succeed in achieving their dreams. Ma Joad is a woman of strength and hope who is the backbone of the family. She represents the Mother Nature archetype because she possesses the physical aspect of guiding the family and staying strong when the family needs her most. Steinbeck shows the importance of Ma's character by the syntax usage to describe her. "Ma was heavy, but not fat; thick with child-bearing and work...her ankles, and her strong, broad, bare feet moved quickly and deftly over the floor", Ma is described with these features to show her strength as a mother who has control and survives through hard situations (99-100.) Her 'bare feet' being close to the earth shows how she takes on a 'Mother Nature' archetype to her character. She is one with the earth just as Mother Nature is. Mother Nature is one that gives birth, produces, sustains life and nurtures her family. All of these archetypes are expressed in Ma's character. Even though she is a very strong woman, Ma still knows her role in the family. She knows when it is her time to help the family and when it is appropriate to step back and let the father run things. It is an unsaid statement but known by all in the family that "Ma was powerful in...
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