Strength In Numbers

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Strength in Numbers Family is one of the main themes in The Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck. From the moment they are introduced up until the final scene, the Joads make an attempt to stay together, although not always successful. The Joads, along with everyone else during this time, are having some difficulties. Their crops in Oklahoma are destroyed and they are "tractored"� off of their land and forced to move to California in order to find jobs. Throughout this hard journey for survival, the only thing that keeps them alive and with hope is family and togetherness.

The main figure of the Joad family seems to be Ma Joad. She is a figure of strength and wisdom who is sought after for advice and affection. "She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken."�

(Steinbeck, 100) Even when faced with great obstacles, Ma is able to keep herself and the family together. Ma suffers several losses. Granpa and Granma die during this horrible episode. Although, unpreventable, the Joads do lose some of the family.

There are several times when the family tries to split up. Some attempts are successful, others are not. For example, Tom and Casey offer to stay behind with the Wilsons when their car breaks down. Ma does not think that splitting up is a good idea; she believes the family should stay together at all times. Ma physically threatens the two, saying, "All we got is the family unbroke. Like a bunch of cows, when the lobos are ranging, stick all together."� (Steinbeck, 231) This was an unsuccessful attempt to break up.

Rose of Sharon and Connie also had plans to separate from the family. They both had the idea of living in a town together, where Connie would get a good job and care for her and the baby. When this idea was brought up to Ma, she argued, "We don' want you to go "˜way from us. It ain't good for folks to break up."� (Steinbeck, 225) Again, Ma stood strong on the values of the family.

On the other hand, more than just Granpa and Granma were lost from the family.

Ma was not able to keep everyone from straying. Noah was tempted by the river and decides to stay behind and live off the fish. Ma was not able to prevent this. Noah had his mind set and he was not going to change it. Connie also separates from the family.

He was very selfish in doing so. He did not think about his wife or his unborn child. He just up and left without thinking of the consequences of his actions. Unfortunately, Jim Casey also must leave the Joads. However, his departure from the family is the complete opposite of Connie's. Casey was not selfish, he was selfless. He left for the better of the Joads. Finally, Tom Joad must leave the family. He also does this for the better of the Joad family. Tom also is not selfish. He knows he is on parole, yet he still gets retaliation on Jim Casey's murderer.

With some of the immediate family's lose, comes a gain of many more. The Joads gain the Wilsons as a part of their family, becoming one big family. They two groups merge into one, sharing one another's hardships and working together toward a better life. This merging takes place among the migrants as well. They become a community, one large family. "Twenty families became one family, the children were the children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream." Everyone is going through the same situation so all could relate and are able to get through the hard times together as a whole.

As the cliché goes, "Together we stand, divided we fall."� This can not be more true in The Grapes of Wrath. If the Joads were going through this alone, I do not think that they would have been able to make it alive. They have support from their "family."� Ma tried her best to keep the family together, and by doing so she kept them alive. The Joads were strong and they did not fall. Even in today's society, having strong family backgrounds is helpful to one's future.

Strength in Numbers December 19, 2001 References Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.