Sunday, October 14, 2012

Exploration 7: Family

In recent years and during the time in which The Grapes of Wrath take place, family has played a large role in American life. During times of economic uncertainty, families depend on one another to get by, and we see that in The Grapes of Wrath. It's not just the Joads we see it in, but in every major decision that is made in the book, and in every character that we meet.

Through Muley Graves, the reader sees what happens when someone separates from the family. Muley just wonders about, and has no real meaning left. He claims to be watching over everyone's land, but the farmers are not going to head back when they have been pushed off their land. Muley tries to give himself purpose, and it is all in vain. Later on, Casy saves Tom's skin by taking the fault in beating a cop. When asked why he did it, Casy answers with, "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'." It comes off as a man who, yes is saving a friend more prison time, but also figures that he does not have a hell of a lot to live for. Had Casy had a family to worry about, this part of chapter twenty might have played out differently.
The Joads (Grapes of Wrath movie) are a close knit-large family.

As for the Joads, we see how everything they do is for family. Ma is the central figure, and tries to keep everyone together. When Tom suggest that the rest of the family should head into Bakersfield, and himself and Casy would meet up after they fix the truck, Ma pulls out a bar of iron, and threatens to beat anyone who doesn’t agree with her that they should all stick together. Ma hates to see the family fight, and hates the idea of being separated from the others. Her belief is that, in the end, all anyone ever has is family.

Today's society tries to get back to old family values.
In today’s society, there has been a push to spend more time with family. In TV ads, people have been encouraged to sit down for a family meal at the dining table. We see more families moving in together to help support each other because money just is not there. I value family in a way that Ma sort of does. I hate to see my family be separated (my parents’ divorce when I was seven still bothers me), and when we stray from our traditions, it angers me. Coming from a family where we don’t have a lot, and my dad’s side being farmers, well, I’ve learned the meaning of family, and having that support system. Family is like a backbone, and everyone needs one.


  1. You are very right. Today the world may change around us the one thing will always remain resolute, the family. As the times get "hard" again the family will still be the "backbone," as you put it, of the American society.

  2. Family is very important, I come from a big family, 8 brothers and sisters, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote, especially the part " in the end, all anyone ever has is family" my mom is the exact same way.

  3. Indeed... We have seen this trait since the beginning of time: The family that endures all days together, stays together.

  4. We do need family, even though i didnt have much of a family growing up. Family is together through the hard times, to support each other.

  5. I really like the part of your exploration where you point out that the scene where Casy takes the blame for Tom would have been different if Casy would have had a family. Family is very important to most people and it influences the way they act a lot of the time.

  6. You are so right. Family has always been the same through all the years. Of course they have their own fights and problems throughout the book, but they stay together. And families still do today.