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Importance of Family in Grapes of Wrath

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Jenna Rutledge

on 27 March 2014

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Transcript of Importance of Family in Grapes of Wrath

What kept the Joads on their way?
A:
Unexpected leaders grew as they ventured further westward
and more family members left!
How did the Migrant Community come together?
A:
Families on the road grew together to show community is stronger than blood
Family in The Grapes of Wrath
The value of family during the Dust Bowl
The power of individuals in preserving the family
The dissolution of families and their becoming part of the bigger community.
Why is family important?
A: In the beginning of their journey, the Joads relied on one another on their way to achieve the California Dream.
The Importance of the family unit on the road.
Solace -
"What we got lef’ in the world? Nothin’ but us. Nothing but folks. We come out an Grandpa, he reached for the shovel-shelf right off. An’ you wanna bust up the folks"
Order -
"Each member of the family grew into his proper place, grew into his duties; so that each member, old and young, had his place in the car; so that in the weary, hot evenings, when the cars pulled into the camping places, each member had his duty and went to it without instruction: children to gather wood, to carry water; men to pitch tents and bring down the beds; women to cook the supper and to watch while the family fed. And this was done without command."
Hope/ motivation -
"How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him--he has known a fear beyond every other."
" But you can't start. Only a baby can start. This land, this red land, is us... We can't start again."
Family also inspired the "bad guys"
"Three dollars a day. I got damn sick of creeping for my dinner- and not getting it. I got a wife and kids. We got to eat. Three dollars a day, and it comes everyday."
Ma was persistent in maintaining the family unit even though she had her own doubts.
Key in decision making
Of counsel to Tom and Rose of Sharon.
"'I'm scared of stuff so nice. I ain't got faith. I'm scared somepin ain't so nice about it'"
"She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt and fear, she has practiced denying them in herself.....She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall.”
Tom is initially distant from his family; however, he subtly grows to become a leader of the family.
A supporter to Ma and a role model to his siblings.
Grows as a disciple to Casy.
Though an honorary part of the Joad family, Jim Casy is an important moral compass and spiritual leader.
A source of comfort to the Joads and the Wilsons on the road.
A martyr to save Tom -
“Somebody got to take the blame. I got no kids. They’ll jus’ put me in jail, an’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ but set around”
A leader to the migrant community -
"Here's me, been a-goin' into the wilderness like Jesus to try find out out somepin.. But it's in the jail house I really got her." "Talks all the time.. Folks kinda likes to hear 'im, though."

Community:
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
a similarity or identity.
Unity
- "At first the families were timid in the building and tumbling worlds, but gradually the technique of building worlds became their technique. Then leaders emerged, then laws were made, then codes came into being. And as the worlds moved westward they were more complete and better furnished, for their builders were more experienced in building them."
Comfort
- "In the evening a strange thing happened: the twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream."
Help
- "If you're in trouble or hurt or need- go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help- the only ones."
Restored their sense of self- worth
- "That police. He done somepin to me, made me feel mean . . . ashamed. An’ now I ain’t ashamed . . . Why, I feel like people again."
The Joads' belonging to their community inspired their sacrifices.
Tom's departure and decision to lead the migrant movement was accepted by reluctant Ma.
Ma encouraged Rose of Sharon to help the starving man.
People who left because they lacked the sense of community shared by the rest of the family:
Granpa/ Granma -
"Your way was fixed an' Grampa didn' have no part in it. He's jus' stayin' with the lan'. He couldn' leave it.'"
Noah Joad -
did not belong.Left his family at a stream and told Tom he felt as though Ma didn't love him as much as the other kids. "'It ain't no use. I was in that there water. An' I ain't a-gonna leave her. I'm a-gonna go now, Tom – down the river. I'll catch fish an' stuff, but I can't leave her. I can't'"
Connie -
too immature to support a family. This act of selfishness surprised no one but his wife. " Connie wasn't no good... If he ain't no good, we don' want him."
Family tradition inspired the connection to the land -
"Grampa killed Indians, Pa killed snakes for the land. Maybe we can kill banks - they're worse than Indians and snakes. Maybe we got to fight to keep our land, like Pa and Grampa did."
In John Steinbeck's
The Grapes of Wrath
, the hardships of the Dust Bowl subvert the institution of family and establishes a community which extends its strength extends from the individuals. In the beginning of their journey, the Joads relied on one another on their way to achieve the California Dream. However, as they ventured westward, a common interest and goal brought them closer to others on the same path, and weeded out those who lacked that sense of community.
Through his depiction of the Dust Bowl, Steinbeck demonstrates how even family bonds dissolve under pressure if lacking unity and adequate leadership.
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