The Grapes of Wrath


Tom Joad

From the beginning of the novel, Tom Joad demonstrates personal strength and steadiness of character united with a keen perception of human nature and an easy, likeable manner. His ability to read people clearly comes across in his first meeting with the truck driver, as Tom Joad knows exactly what to say to get the man to give him a ride: “Sometimes a guy’ll be a good guy even if some rich bastard makes him carry a sticker.” Tom’s quick-wittedness, keen eye for human behavior, and intuition are all  natural leadership qualities which will evolve and refine themselves throughout the novel. There is also an ineffable quality to Tom Joad that makes him stand out as a powerful person, which Ma expresses by saying, “Ever’thing you do is mor’n you.”

As the novel evolves, Tom’s friendship with Jim Casy begins to inform his character. After Jim Casy’s death, Tom Joad decides to carry on his work—a beautiful illustration of the collective soul. Some of Jim Casy’s soul lives in Tom Joad, so much so that Tom feels as if he can “see him sometimes.” In his final speech to Ma, it is clear that Tom has now accepted the transformation within him that began when he started talking to Jim Casy. He was intuitively good to begin with; now Tom understands his responsibility to use his goodness—his intuition, strength, and natural leadership abilities—for the collective good.

Sign up to continue reading Tom Joad >

Essays About The Grapes of Wrath