Grapes of Wrath - Characterization

Evidence/ Quotations from the Text:

"Winfield was breathless in his telling. 'So then they fit, an' that big girl hit Ruthie a good one, an' Ruthie said her brother'd kill that big girl's brother. An' then- an' then, Ruthie said our brother already kil't two fellas. An'- an' that big girl said, 'Oh yeah! You're jus' a litlle smarty liar.' An' Ruthie said, 'Oh yeah? Well, our brother's a- hiding right now from killin' a fella, an' he can kill that big girl's brother too" (456).

"Muley continued, 'Well, sir, it's a funny thing. Somepin went an' happened to me when they tol' me I had to get off the place. .. Then all my folks all went away out west. An' I got wanderin' aroun'. Jus' walkin' aroun'. Never went far. Slep' where I was... I'd tell myself, 'I'm lookin' after things so when all the folks come back it'll be all right.' But I knowed that wan't true. There ain't nothin' to look after. The folks ain't never comin' back. I'm jus' wanderin' aroun' like a damn ol' graveyard ghos" (54).

Analysis/ Commentary:

At the camp, Ruthie becomes engaged in an argument that leads to serious consequences. In an effort to preserve her Cracker Jacks, she threatens to call upon her brother, who has killed two men and is now in hiding. Ruthie's revelation endangers Tom and forces him to abandon both his hideout and family. Ma, whose primary goal has been to keep the family together, must bid another painful farewell.

Through his speech, Muley reveals that he is stubborn and refuses to accept the fact that things have changed. His home has been seized, and his family migrated to California, but he refuses to leave the land. Muley roams the countryside alone, sleeping and eating like a wild animal.

Evidence/ Quotations from the Text
"John shook his head. "No. Go on. Ain't goin'. Gonna res' here. No good goin' back. No good to nobody-jus' a draggin' my sins like dirty drawers 'mongst nice folks. No. Ain't goin'....Go ri' 'long. I ain't no good. I ain't no good. Jus' a-draggin' my sins, a-dirtyin' ever'body." (305).


"For a minute Rose of Sharon sat still in the whispering barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the comfort about her. She moved slowly to the corner and stood looking down at the wasted face, into the wide, frightened eyes. Then slowly she lay down beside him. He shook his head slowly from side to side. Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket and bared her breast. "You got to," she said. She squirmed closer and pulled his head close. "There!" she said. "There" (501).

Analysis/ Commentary
Ever since the day of his wife's death, Uncle John has been a lonely, guilt-ridden man. He considers himself a burden on the family and constantly blames the Joad family's misfortunes on himself and his sin. He feels that getting drunk is the only way he can survive.

Up until now, Rose of Sharon has been seen as an irritable and self-centered woman, constantly fretting over her baby. However, her life is altered after she gives birth to a stillborn. With new visions and greater insight, Rosasharon renews the life of a starving man by feeding him the milk from her breasts. This act of charity creates life from death, and symbolizes the rebirth of a human being.

Evidence/ Quotations from the Text
"Pa squatted down in the doorway. "Comin' up fast," he said. "I think we oughta go talk to the other fellas. See if they'll help ditch up. Got to git outa here if they won't" (482).

Analysis/ Commentary
As the water creeps up on the boxcar, Pa must decide whether to leave or to build a bank to control the flooding. He understands that building a bank is risky and involves help from the other men. However, if the family leaves, they may be unsuccessful in finding any dry land. Pa's decision is crucial in protecting the family.