The Grapes of Wrath Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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How does each member of the Joad family feel about going to California and leaving home in The Grapes of Wrath?

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John Steinbeck’s novel traces the struggles of the extended Joad family from Oklahoma on their way to California in the 1930s. The Joads lost their land to the Dust Bowl, and, like many other tenant farmers, could no longer grow crops. Steinbeck uses the personal struggles of the characters in this novel to depict the broader conditions, social injustices, and isolation that affected the Southwest region of the United States in that era.

The Joad family consists of many biological members, plus a few close friends. One of Steinbeck’s major themes in The Grapes of Wrath is the strength of the family relationship. In addition to those members related by blood, he considers all the travelers on the journey to California, including those they meet on the way, as part of the extended family. They all have different motives for migration to the West. Some travel reluctantly, others travel willingly. Some wish to start new lives, while others feel they have no choice.

In the first of a few...

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The Joad family was like the many poor farmers of the drought regions during the depression.  Each family member had watched their crops dry up and die, the land turn to sand and dust, and had their lives abruptly changed.  For the Joads the need to move was as necessary as it had been for the other farmers.  They watched as their neighbors had packed up and moved away.  The region they had lived in had changed and become an un-inhabitable environment.

For the most part, despite the tragedy of their lives, the family members were ready to move on.  They had nothing left for them at their home.  They purchased their vehicle with the excitement and hopes of having a new life lay before them.  Ma Joad was the guidance that projected hope into her family.  They had no idea that their exodus and entrance into California would be met with negativity.