Ma Joad in the Grapes of Wrath

Topics: The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Great Depression Pages: 3 (919 words) Published: November 6, 2012
John Steinbeck’s Message
In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck emphasizes Ma Joad. Steinbeck uses Ma Joad to express his views on how people can reach the American Dream. In the book, Steinbeck does not express that individuals can achieve the American Dream. He expresses his idea that the people should unite and continue to strive for the American Dream even through the worst of times. Through Ma Joad, he emphasizes that the poor and lower class should unite and continue to push for their American Dream and that this will create a better country and future. In The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck uses Ma Joad to show that people should continue to strive for the American Dream through perseverance and unity. John Steinbeck expresses the importance of unity through Ma Joad. Ma Joad is the character that holds the Joad family together and often states her opinion that “it ain’t good for folks to break up” (Steinbeck 165). Ma will not accept any ideas of breaking the family apart. When the Joad family discusses splitting up, Ma Joad “stepped to the touring car and reached in on the floor of the backseat. She brought out a jack handle and balanced it in her hand easily” (168). Ma threatens Pa with the jack handle and tells him: “I ain’t a-goin; jus’ the minute you take sleep in your eyes, I’ll slap ya with a stick of stove wood” (169). John Steinbeck uses this scene to symbolize the lower class stepping up and making a stand. Before this scene, Ma Joad does not have as much power as the men, but she steps up and takes control. Steinbeck also uses Ma to show that everyone should unite and act like one family. Ma never turns down a person in need. She helps Jim Casy who wants to get to California: “I never heerd tell of no Joads or no Hazletts, neither, ever refusin’ food an’ shelter or a lift on the road to anybody that asked” (102). She helps starving children: “ ’I can’t send ‘em away,’ she said. ‘I don’ know what to do. Take your plates an’ go...

Cited: John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Group, 1939. Print
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