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Four Powerful Women In Grapes Of Wrath By John Steinbeck

1482 words - 6 pages

One of the most important attributes seldom attributed to women is the innate ability to keep the family as a cohesive whole. Women are the rock in the midst of familial turmoil, the solid foundation on which a husband or head of a household can stand firm. Fully assured that womanhood will stand back of the ranks and take care of domestic needs. Women have qualities that keep the family strong, these unique attributes can divided into several standards. One being the physical aspect of “mother” nature, two virginity representing the religious type of the standard, three is the young bitch who represent the physical state while four is the old bitch who also has a spiritual side of the woman standard. In the Grapes of Wrath by J. Steinbeck these four standards are possessed by the characters which take on responsibility and eventually help the family succeed in achieving the American dream.

The rock of the family, Ma Joad is a woman of hope and strength. Ma represents the “mother” nature archetype and also has the characteristic of staying strong when depended on by her family and also guiding her family that is attributed to this standard. The sentence structure used to describe Ma by Steinbeck proves the importance of Ma’s character. “. " 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", by Steinbeck using these features to describe her as a mom he shows that Ma has the ability to thrive and survive in hard situations as well as that she has control of her family (95). Steinbeck’s later goes on to describe in detail her feet being one with the earth, showing her “mother” nature standard. Mother Nature produces, births, sustains being, and cultivates family all of these characteristics are immortalized in Ma.

Ma’s character has the strength to know her role in the family, when to back down and let Pa take over and when to help the family. Though it goes unsaid it is recognized and a known fact that, “ma was powerful in the group” and they often times consulted her in times of big decision making endeavors (133). She was often sought by the men in the family know how to react in certain situations. Steinbeck used the cliché, “When mama is happy, everybody is happy”. If Ma was unhappy the whole family was unhappy. Ma understood this cliché well enough to know that she must control her reaction 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). Ma’s dream is to see her family live in...

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