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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath: Leadership

At the very beginning of The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family is well based on the classic male dominance pattern. Pa Joad is in command of his family with a loving and supporting wife to back him up at all times. The men of the family and of the time frame tell everyone what to do, and the women, well, do it. These roots are so firmly embedded in the Joad household that they continue with Grampa Joad as the head of the house even though he is probably way too old to act responsibly on the issues and matters of the house. However, on the journey west to seek much needed work in California, this entire classic family structure gets turned upside down. Distraught by so many failures piling up one on top of the other, Pa Joad is relieved of the position of the head of the house to sulk to himself in his lost thoughts, confusion, and turmoil. In his place, Ma steps up to the plate to take control of the deteriorating family. Pa, still unsure of what is happening all around him, threatens Ma Joad in a failed attempt at maintaining his position in the family. Ma, on the other hand, is a tremendous leader. She rights the ship of the family and presses onward to victory and a permanent role as head of the family. At this point in the story, the female figure has risen to shining glory while the male figure has shrunk and retreated into thought. Once weak and powerless, the women in the family are strong desicion makers, and the once strong and noble men have fled, in the case of Tom Joad, or fallen apart, like Pa. This sort of revolution is also present in the world outside of the family. The Weedpatch camp is a gavernment by the people, for the people, including every person, even women. This is another entirely new philosophy for the time period, and this one is one that will prove to stay intact for much more time than some of the people may think.

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