The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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Please explain Tom Joad's change in thinking from the beginning to the end of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Tom Joad is not just the protagonist of The Grapes of Wrath, he also experiences the most profound change of any character in the story. His trajectory can be described as a steady movement from "I" to "we," from individual to collective. In other words, due to his many harsh experiences of life during the Great Depression, he comes to see himself as part of a wider human family, leaving behind the selfishness that characterized his identity as a criminal.

Tom no longer lives for the moment, the very attitude that got him into trouble in the first place. By taking on Jim's role of organizing migrant workers, Tom shows a commitment to a higher ideal, a lesson he learned from his friend. It is no longer enough for Tom that he and his family find work; they must stand in solidarity with other exploited workers and refuse to participate in work that involves strikebreaking. Due to a combination of Jim's influence and his experiences in California, Tom has developed a distinctive class...

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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