Upon seeing Tom, what is the first concern of both Ma and Pa? What is Ma's second worry?chapter eight

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom Joad has just been let out of jail on parole, and he's on his way back to see his folks. They don't know about his release and so he wants to give them a nice surprise. As he and the preacher Jim Casy creep up towards the farm, Tom sees that his folks are all packed up and ready to go, preparing to head out west.

When Tom and Casy finally reach the farm, Pa's first reaction is one of fear, fear that Tom's escaped from jail:

"Tommy," he said softly, "you ain't busted out? You ain't got to hide?" He listened tensely.

Ma is shocked to see Tom, but in a good way. As Tom walks into the kitchen, she stands there in open-mouthed amazement, dropping the fork she was holding upon the wooden floor. Though overjoyed to see Tom, she, like her husband, is worried that perhaps Tom broke out of jail, and that he's a wanted man on the run:

And suddenly her face was worried. "Tommy, you ain't wanted? You didn't bust loose?"

Tom duly reassures Ma about his parole. But she has another concern: she's worried that maybe prison life has had a damaging effect on both his personality and his mental health. She just wants to make sure that her Tommy is the same as he was before he went to jail:

"Tommy, I got to ask you—you ain't mad?" "Mad, Ma?" "You ain't poisoned mad? You don't hate nobody? They didn' do nothin' in that jail to rot you out with crazy mad?"

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Tom first approaches his pa, his father at first does not recognize him, and then asks him if he has broken out of prison. Tom experiences the same question when he goes in to greet his ma.

Ma's second question is if being in prison has caused Tom to go "mad". She is concerned because she knew Pretty Boy Floyd, and says that after he went to prison he became "mean mad". Ma worries about the effect prison has had on her son, and while not asking any more questions of him, she wants to know if he is still the same son she had before he went to prison.

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The Grapes of Wrath

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