Women In John Steinbeck's Grapes Of Wrath

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In many classic novels, it is rare to find any interaction between female characters. Even rarer, interaction between women where they aren't discussing or competing over men. John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath’s portrayal of a healthy female relationship is well beyond its years for the portrayal of women in literature. The bond between the stoic Ma Joad and her self-centered daughter Rose of Sharon shows solidarity among women, as Rose of Sharon is forced to realize how much fortitude she possesses. Without the guidance of Mama, Rose of Sharon would have never been able to overcome the struggles a pregnant woman faces whilst making the journey from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life. Prior to the Joad clan’s journey west to California, Ma and her daughter Rose were polar …show more content…

Unlike traditional patriarch centered families, Ma is the leader of the Joads and serves a more influential role than her husband, Tom, “and since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt or fear, she had practiced denying them in herself” (80). Ma pushes aside her own vexations in favor of serving a much bigger picture: her family’s sense of security. Ma is the backbone of the family, and “she seemed to know that if she swayed, the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone” (80). The Joad family depends on Ma’s reserved, sagacious ways in order to keep from falling apart. Her oldest daughter, Rose of Sharon, is initially her antithesis; a vain, superficial representation of all the negative traits the classic beautiful woman possesses.

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