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Chapters up to and including ch. 9
• Chapter 7 is a good example of one
of the roles of the inter-chapters. It
adds new voices – in this case that of
a car salesman who speaks with the
quick pace and phony tone of a
hustler taking advantage of the
Steinbeck goes to a lot of
trouble to describe each
character well before any
real action takes place.
Thus, we can assume that it
is important to know much
detail about each of the
Joads (and a few others).
This will help us understand
how they function as a
• Jim Casy: Review
– Casy rejects the notion of sin:
“There ain’t no sin, and there
ain’t no virtue. There’s just
stuff people do.”
– “Maybe all men got one big
soul ever’body’s a part of.”
– Casy is a thinker in the first
half of the novel; a man of
action in the second half.
• Tom Joad
– Main protagonist of the
novel; strong, responsible,
doesn’t like being pushed
– On probation from state
prison; limits his actions.
– Viewpoint transforms from
concern for his immediate
family to concern for the
whole migrant society.
– Refuses to leave the land; lives
like an animal; has been hunted
for more than two months; lives
in caves and fields; hunts his own
– hates the government
• Many disparage Muley for not
heading west with his family: There is
something at work there that is much
stronger than we can imagine: His
very being is tied to the land.
• This is a huge theme in the book and
in Steinbeck’s writing in general.
• Ma Joad
– Backbone of the family.
– “Heavy, but not fat; thick with child-bearing
and work” ;“full face was not
soft, but controlled, kindly.”
– The “citadel of the family.”
– Pa and the family “could not know
fear or hurt unless (Ma)
acknowledges it…if she ever deeply
wavers or despairs the family would
fall, the family will to function would
– Considered the healer of the family;
the arbiter of disputes.
– She fights to keep the family
• Pa Joad
– Official head of the family. Hard-working
tenant farmer who is
forced out by elements beyond
– Only touches Tom on the
shoulder, and very timidly, after
an extended talk with him.
Doesn’t openly show emotions.
– Doesn’t trust anyone who writes
for no reason.
– Looks dirty and worn; worn out
clothes, salt-and-pepper beard.
• Uncle John:
– “Crazy kind of son-of-bitch –
somepin like Muley, on’y
worse in some ways.”
– Often seen drunk and visiting
– Feels guilty about his wife’s
death; blames himself for his
family’s bad luck.
– Older than Pa
– Never goes to church; wants
to be off alone; doesn’t want
to get close to anyone.
• Granma and Granpa
– Sleep in the barn so that they aren’t
bothered and don’t bother.
– Fighting keeps their relationship
healthy: They love it (need it) and are
devoted to each other.
– Granpa is “cantankerous,
– Attached to the land; too old to
adapt to a new place; pretends to
want to go to California but doesn’t
– Granma is “as mean as her husband”;
shot Granpa once during one of their
arguments, which made him love her
– Speaks in tongues when the spirit
• Al Joad
– 16 years old; interested in girls
and “billygoatin’” aroun” at
– Handsome, seen unconsciously
as a younger version of Tom
(although less responsible at this
– Disappointed that Tom got
paroled rather than escaped
– Expert with automobiles;
caretaker of the truck.
– First-born son of the Joads; Pa pulled
him out of Ma with his hands
because he couldn’t deal with Ma’s
pain and screaming.
– He is not stupid; just strange and a
little slow. Loves family but feels like
• Rose of Sharon
– 17 or 18; pregnant.
– Pre-motherhood has changed her
from an immature girl to a young
woman gaining wisdom. This change
isn’t completed until almost the end
of the novel.
– Rose of Sharon’s 19-year-old husband
• Ruthie and Winfield
– Youngest Joad children;
Ruthie, 12, is on verge of
adolescence; Winfield is
typical boy, 10.