Grapes of Wrath: The Hero's Ending
The Hero's Journey
Separation (from the known)
The Threshold (with guardians, helpers, and mentor)
Initiation and Transformation
The Return (to the known world)
The Return (with a Gift)
A traditional Hero's Journey story follows the pattern above. The story follows the hero on his journal from point A, through obstacles, to point B, and then, traditionally, back to point A, but forever changed. At first glace, The Grapes of Wrath is a traditional hero's story, following Tom Joad and his family from their farm to California. The story appears to follow the normal path of The Call to action, with Tom's return home and subsequent migration with his Guardians, Helpers and Mentors (his family), and continue along the Hero's Journey story. However, as the novel approaches its end, the traditional Hero story falls apart as the focus switches permanently onto Ma Joad and Rose of Sharon.
In order to maintain the original Hero's Journey story pattern, the story must end before the focus-switch, and a perfectly good opportunity presents itself in Tom's famous final monologue.
"Then it don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere, wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready and where people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build. I'll be there, too."
~The Grapes of Wrath, pg. 463
Ending the story after this quote would leave the readers with a clearer picture of...