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Archetypal Women In Grapes Of Wrath By John Steinbeck

1492 words - 6 pages

Women are known for as 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 being 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 which who is 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 succeeds 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 while she posses 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 ma. " 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 (95). 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 she knows her role in the family. Ma 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 the group" and they look to her for important decision making (133). She is looked to for guidance and decisions so the family looks to her on how to react to situations. If mom is unhappy then the family is unhappy. When ma is upset you know something is wrong. Ma understands this concept and knows that she must control her reactions and emotions. Ma's "...full face was not soft; it was controlled kindly" because she knows she is the role model in her family. When Tom left to go to jail, she had to control her real feelings toward missing him because she doesn't want the family to be upset as well. Al explains to Tom "she mourned when you was gone. Done it all to herself. Kinda cryin' down inside of her through. We could tell what she was thinkin' about, though" they knew how she was felling even though she tried to hide it (227). All ma wants to see is that her family live in happiness. But it's hard for a mother to accomplish this when it's not in her control. The hardest thing for a mother to do is...

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