The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath book cover
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Ma Joad

Extended Character Analysis

Ma Joad is the matriarch of the Joad family. She is described as heavyset, calm, and wise. Ma is the healer, arbiter, and nurturer of the family. As such, she keeps the family together through her calm nature and ability to find humor. She understands that if she wavers, the family will fall with her.

Ma Joad’s Leadership

Near the beginning of The Grapes of Wrath, Ma Joad is on equal footing with Pa Joad. They lead the family together, as Pa Joad is confident in his abilities to help and support the family. However, as the novel progresses and things become steadily worse for the family, Pa Joad becomes unable to provide and recedes from the role of patriarch. Because of this, Ma Joad is left to lead and make decisions for the family.

An example of Ma’s leadership can be seen when Ma Joad lies to the border agent and to the family about Granma. She claims Granma is very sick, but Granma had actually already died. So, Ma’s lie ensured that the family got through the border and the...

(The entire section is 364 words.)