The Life Essay, Research Paper
Tom Joad – The novel’s main protagonist, one of and sons. Tom killed a man in self-defense and served four years in the McAlester State Penitentiary. As the novel begins, Tom has just been released and returns to the Joad farm largely unaware of the Dust Bowl tragedy unfolding around him. As the novel progresses, thanks in part to the influence of, Tom will emerge as a man of great moral integrity, and he will devote himself to helping his fellow migrant workers organize.
Ma Joad – wife, the mother of the Joad family. A strong-willed, determined, and loving woman, Ma Joad emerges as the center of strength of the family as they migrate to California and as Pa Joad gradually becomes less and less effective as a leader and provider. Ma Joad practices a philosophy of endurance, believing that the Okies will outlast the landowners simply because of their will to survive.
Pa Joad – husband and father, an Oklahoma tenant farmer who has been evicted from his farm after the failure of his crops as a result of the Dust Bowl. A plainspoken, good-hearted man, Pa directs the effort to take the family to California, but once there, unable to find work and increasingly desperate, Pa largely looks to Ma Joad for strength and leadership.
Rose of Sharon – The oldest of and daughters, wife. An impractical, petulant, and romantic young woman, Rose of Sharon is pregnant; before the end of the novel, her husband leaves her, her child is stillborn, and she matures considerably.
Granma and Grampa Joad -grandparents, the original settlers of the Joad farm, now old and infirm. The old couple delight in tormenting each other; Granma is a pious Christian, Grampa a mischievous sinner. But they do not live long after they are taken from the farm: Grampa dies on Highway 66, and Granma dies just as the family reaches California
Jim Casy – younger brother, a 16-year-old boy obsessed with cars and girls. He idolizes Tom.
Noah Joad – older brother, slightly deformed as a result of his birth– had to perform the delivery and, panicked, tried to pull him out forcibly. Slow and quiet, Noah leaves his family behind at a stream near the California border, saying that he knows his parents do not love him as much as they love the other children.
Uncle John – uncle, who, years ago, refused to fetch a doctor for his wife when she complained of stomach pains, insisting that she had merely eaten too much. When his wife died, John became eccentric and sad. He now gives candy to every child he sees.
Ruthie and Winfield Joad – The youngest Joad children. Ruthie is twelve and Winfield is ten.