Analysis of Home in the Grapes of Wrath

August 14, 2017 General Studies

“You can leave home all you want, but home will never leave you. ” Sonsyrea Tate. Tate’s quote has distinct meaning depending on the individual who analyzes it. Many believe this quote to mean that a home is not a single place or object, but a concept or state of mind, which you have when you are around your family or loved ones. In the book The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck this idea of “home is where the heart is,” is shown throughout the book. One of the main characters, Ma, shows with great strength the concept of home is not a dwelling or place where you live, but a state of mind.

Ma, throughout the course of the book understood that a home is not a place, but where you are with your family. During the course of the book Ma takes steps to assert herself as a voice to be heard by all, in order to keep the family together as they travel. At the beginning of the book she was simply in the shadows of her husband for him to lean on. “And then Ma came out of the house and Granma with her, and Rose of Sharon behind, walking daintily. They took their places behind the squatting men…” (Steinbeck, 129) This shows how even though the women are there; they only spoke when spoken to.

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This is in huge contrast to later in the book when Ma stands up for herself and her opinion. “On’y way you gonna get me to go is whup me. ” (Steinbeck, 217) This was her first real showing oh how she is taking control. Finally in chapter 26 she fully steps forward at the family’s leader and decision-making. Telling the family they must leave the government camp to look for work. The beginning of the family breaking apart instigates the change of character for Ma. This family is not just those who are directly blood related, but even to those of whom have become connected to the Joads.

Such as with Casy, “Somebody got to take the blame. I got no kids. They’ll jus’ put me in jail, an’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ but set aroun’. ” (Steinbeck, 342) This occurred when Casy sent both Tom and Al from the crime; he gave himself up to protect the family. After this occurred Ma was upset that he did such a thing and left the family. She was also upset about the family breaking apart when Noah, and Connie left on their own. She believed a family must stay together even in tough times.

She did not care where they would live, as long as wherever they were the family would remain together, because she understood the concept of a home being where your loved ones are. In one of the final chapters of the book Ruthie out of anger tell about how Tom killed a man. So Ma out of fear goes to meet Tom, there they discus what Tom should do. Although Ma is worried about Tom and his safety where he goes, Tom makes a speech about where he would be. One part being “An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build- why, I’ll be there. (Steinbeck, 537) Tom makes mention of a house as a single location; while Ma is not concerned with that, as she is more concerned about Tom’s safety saying how is she going to know if he is hurt or killed. This can be taken as even though her fear of breaking the family apart, she is worried whether Tom can be safe. Showing how even though a person can leave a “home. ” They still take part of the home a carry it with them for the rest of their life. Homes are simply not places or a possession, but the love of the family you surround yourself with. Ma is one of the only characters in the book that truly realizes this.

Some characters, such as Rose of Sharon, are focused on the possessions in life and only see home as a location. Although under Ma’s guidance in the book, Rose of Sharon take the final step and evolves herself into a caring compassionate person who cares for others around herself- such as with the old man in the final pages of the book. Ma’s character has an idea, which she then imprints onto others in the book. She allows Steinbeck to use the book as a piece of literature, which allows the reader to see what life was like during the dust bowl, and the economic depression.

Although when read by others it shows the compassion one must have for their family and be grateful for not only what they own, but the love and surrounding of those in their lives. As in the book Ma wishes to keep the family together, because she sees the family as some security in the new world, which they have entered. If one recognizes is concept they will see that in life while physical objects are great, home is truly where the heart is. References Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York City, NY: Penguin, 1-581. Print.


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