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Ma Joad's Favorite QuoteOverall, in The Grapes of Wrath, what would you say is Ma...

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grapesofwrath13 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 1, 2008 at 9:19 PM via web

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Ma Joad's Favorite Quote

Overall, in The Grapes of Wrath, what would you say is Ma Joad's favorite saying or quote? All of the charaters have their favorite saying, but I can't seem to remember Ma's.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted January 2, 2008 at 6:56 AM (Answer #2)

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Keep the family together!  Ma's entire purpose throughout the novel is trying to keep the family together.  She feels like she may have failed in this purpose by the end of the novel with the loss of grandma, grandpa, Tom, Noah, Al and even the Wilsons.  Tommy in particular goes to lengths to try and console her to the fact that life happens and you have to move on, but she still views her purpose as keeping the entire family together.  I'm not sure there's a single quote that she has recurring throughout the novel that expresses this, but this thought would certainly be her favorite.

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 2, 2008 at 9:37 AM (Answer #3)

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I think Ma Joad's favorite saying, one by which she lives her life, is "We'll do what we got to do".

Ma is the basis of family strength, constantly looking for what needs to be done for members of her family and others.  Whether it be cooking, cleaning, laying out a body for burial, delivering a baby, or filling the void when the men in the family falter, Ma consistently evaluates what needs to be done and does it. 

Ma actively expresses her outlook on life to Rose of Sharon in particular, attempting to instill in her the same values.  From the time the family begins their trek to California, Ma keeps Rose of Sharon from succumbing to self-pity and despair in times of extreme difficulty by directing her to focus on what needs to be done around her.  When Grampa dies she makes her skittish daughter keep busy peeling potatoes and watching the pots, and when Connie leaves she exhorts Rose of Sharon to endure, saying "You got to work...they's a lot of us here".  At the end of the story, it is evident that Ma has been successful in bestowing her philosophy of doing what needs to be done in Rose of Sharon, who, in agreeing to feed the starving man from her own breasts, tells him, "You got to".

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abbybbyxoxo | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2010 at 3:20 PM (Answer #4)

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What chapter is " We'll do what we got to do" in?

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abbybbyxoxo | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2010 at 3:22 PM (Answer #5)

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I think Ma Joad's favorite saying, one by which she lives her life, is "We'll do what we got to do".

Ma is the basis of family strength, constantly looking for what needs to be done for members of her family and others.  Whether it be cooking, cleaning, laying out a body for burial, delivering a baby, or filling the void when the men in the family falter, Ma consistently evaluates what needs to be done and does it. 

Ma actively expresses her outlook on life to Rose of Sharon in particular, attempting to instill in her the same values.  From the time the family begins their trek to California, Ma keeps Rose of Sharon from succumbing to self-pity and despair in times of extreme difficulty by directing her to focus on what needs to be done around her.  When Grampa dies she makes her skittish daughter keep busy peeling potatoes and watching the pots, and when Connie leaves she exhorts Rose of Sharon to endure, saying "You got to work...they's a lot of us here".  At the end of the story, it is evident that Ma has been successful in bestowing her philosophy of doing what needs to be done in Rose of Sharon, who, in agreeing to feed the starving man from her own breasts, tells him, "You got to".

what chapter is " We'll do what we got to do" in?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:45 PM (Answer #6)

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The fact that we're all struggling to find an exact line Ma used over and over is indicative of what the posters above have already said--Ma is a "doer" not a talker.  Grandma, now she was a talker and had all kinds of quotable sayings.  In the meantime, Ma just put one foot in front of the other, sat next to her dead mother without saying a word, fed her son who was hiding in a drainage ditch...and did the next thing.

Lori Steinbach

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