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Word Count: 5,416
Table of contents 1Introduction 2The Joad women 21Rose of Sharon 22Ma 3Portrayal of the ideal woman 31 Self-sacrifice and endurance 32Narrative techniques 33Reversal of leadership roles 4Biological determination 41Ecological cycle 42Mother earth 43The final image 5Critical reception of the women-figures 6Concluding remarks References 1 Introduction The Dust Bowl that forced thousands of Americans into migration and the national economic depression of the thirties prompted John Steinbeck to write Grapes of Wrath the famous novel about the Joad family and in the interchapters about the migrants and their social situation in general Steinbeck visited camps and was familiar with the living conditions of the Okies Grapes of Wrath was published in 1938 when the problem of migration was still going on The book became extremely popular and has influenced many different genres Film music and theater have adapted Steinbecks novel Grapes of Wrath won the Pulitzer Price and became the cornerstone of his 1962 Nobel Prize award The Joads can be seen as the representative migrant family Consequently the female Joads can be considered the prototype of the migrant women as depicted in the novel Steinbeck had a certain idealized picture of women His characters in Grapes of Wrath in the way they are described demonstrate and support his portrayal of women This paper will examine the role of women in the novel The ideal female character is Ma Joad a hardworking and enduring mother Rose of Sharon does not display these qualities in the beginning and she is therefore portrayed in a negative light Only later after she has turned into a self-sacrificing woman like her mother is she described positively It is the main task of women to bear children and to bring them up Maternal qualities are therefore shown as the most important Ma and Pas reversal of roles will be pointed out The woman is presented as strong
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