How does Ma Joad help move the plot, portray the theme, and how are men affected by her because of her female identity ?

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renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ma Joad is the strength and core of the Joad family. She is the embodiment of many of the themes in the novel. She has many qualities that usually are associated with masculinity. She has inner strength, perseverance in the face of  adversity, and holds the authority over the family. She is the decision maker. Most of the obstacles they overcome as the plot progresses are weathered or solved because of Ma Joad's authority. She is the decision maker.

While she has many tough qualities, she still has feminine qualities as well. She is maternal-her family came first. Rose of Sharon will eventually become more like her mother. Ma is not a shrinking violet when it comes to confrontation, yet she does not offend the men. The males in her family are proud of their determined and strong mother. Ma Joad does not give up, and is able to adapt as the challenges require. In the end, she will see that she has responsibilities that reach farther than just her immediate family.

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The Grapes of Wrath

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