Tom Joad is the central character of the book. Tom has just gotten out of McAlster prison after serving 4 years of the 7 years that he was sentenced. He was imprisoned for murder. He came home to find that his family has lost their farm and is moving west to California. He still has some of this violent tendencies.
Muley Graves is a crazy old man. His wife and family left Oklahoma for California after loosing their home and land. Muley decided to stay. He tries to get away from the police because of his tress-passing.
Uncle John is drunk and depressed a lot throughout the story. He thinks that he is the cause of the family's misfortune and his wife's death. He has carried this guilt with him through the years.
Ma Joad is the mother of Noah, Tom, Rose of Sharon, Ruthie and Winfield. Ma is a forceful woman who will do anything to keep her family together.
She is still very kind to others.
Rose of Sharon (Rosa Sharon) is Tom's younger sister who is married to Connie Rivers and pregnant with his child. She dreams of a middle class life with her husband and child. She gets scared when her husband abandons her when they get to California.
Jim Casy is a preacher who left the ministry when he realized that he did not agree with the ideas of sin. He had sex with girls that he saved. He said that those kinds of situations were just things people did. He realized that he didn't know Jesus. He was murdered in a confrontation with the police.
The Joads and other families were forced to leave "their land" because is was foreclosed bye the bank. They no longer had ownership of their house or their land...