Marlenne Ferman Mrs. Jones White 3 Feb 29, 2012 As the Joads were on their way to California, Ma exhibits fear through her actions. She was so focused into getting into California before anyone took up the jobs. Grandma had been sick for a couple of days and Ma was the one who was taking care of her. As Grandma gradually went downhill, Ma did not tell anyone because she didn’t want to distract them from where they were suppose to get to. After Grandmas death she says, “’ I was afraid we wouln’ get acrost,’ she said. ‘I tol’ Grandma we couln’ he’p her. The fambly had to get acrost.
I tol’ her, tol’ her when she was adying. We could’ stop in the desert. There was the young ones –an’ Rosasharn’s baby. I tol’ her’”(Steinbeck 228). Ma feared not being able to make it across the California border. She was afraid because the kids were in sake and also a baby in the womb. This action showed fear throughout her because it even cost a human life in order to be able to overcome it. It also showed fear because she was so set onto making it across that Grandmas life was not worth saving for, and was only getting in the way. In the book Ma is referred to as the “citadel of the family”.
Throughout the book Ma assumed the task of decision-making, a responsibility that typically belongs to the male head of the household. When Pa threatens to put her back in her “place” Ma responds by saying, “’You ain’t a-doin’ your job… If you was, why, you could use your stick, an’ women folks’d sniffle their nose and creep-mouse around’”(Steinbeck). Ma basically tells Pa that he is not doing wha the is suppose to be doing as the man of the household. The family structure itself has undergone revolution, in which the female figure, traditionally powerless, has taken control.
While the male figure, traditionally in the leadership role, has retreated. This was dehumanizing because Ma made him feel worthless and less of a man. As said before Ma was the “citadel of the family. ” Meaning that she is a stronghold into which people could go for shelter during a battle. A mothers’ expected responsibility to society is to protect her family. They are expected to genuinely love their children. When Ruthie tells about Tom killing another person, Ma goes and warns Tom in order for him to be able to watch his back.
As she is in the cave with him she says, “She crawled close to his voice. ‘I wanta touch ya again Tom. It’s like I’m blin’, it’s so dark. I wanta remember, even if it’s on’y my fingers that remember. You got to go away Tom’”(Steinbeck 417). Wanting to be able to hear him better, Ma gets close to Tom physically. This action shows true unconditional love towards Tom. Even though he has done wrong Ma does not judge him, she looks out for the best for him. Society does not force mothers to give their kids that kind of unconditional love, but it is expected as a social responsibility.