Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Grapes of Wrath: Ma Joad

Ma Joad is the real stronghold in the Joad family. She is the one who is in charge, but she does not appear that way until the book progresses almost to the end. She is still very much dominating the family, but Pa is used more as a figurehead for Ma's control. As the journey continues, Pa's role as a provider for the family deminishes. He loses strength as a leader of the family, and Ma feels the need to take over for the poor old man. As things turn for the worse in pretty much every circumstance, Ma stands firm. Ma proves herself to be a steadfast leader, and she is able to show no troubles in her face or even her actions. She gets the family over every obstacle without second-guessing her decisions. She probably demonstrates her command over the family and over herself best during the family's crossing of the California desert. Ma knows that Granma Joad is dead, but she keeps her emotions intact and hides them from the family to protect their already dying situation. Since things are not looking up for the best, Ma is brilliantly able to keep herself and her emotions under her own control, and she does not startle the children with the horrible news. Also, Ma is an extremely decisive leader. She does not falter like Pa bagan to do. Ma is also a good support of togetherness in the family. She did not like when Tom left the family, but she got over those emotions rather quickly and continued leading the family into greatness. In order to promote such togetherness, Ma is forced to make tough desicions that do not necessarily act in her favor; instead, they almost always go to the benefit of the children or family as a whole. In chapter thirty, for example, she is able to send her daughter the message to breast-feed the old man who is dying, despite how morally wrong it seems, not to mention inappropriate.

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