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The Grapes of Wrath: Chapters 16-17 May 11, 2007

Posted by Michelle in Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
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Rose of Sharon and Connie are planning on living in the city, studying and opening up a store, but Ma Joad dismisses it as a dream. Why? Do you think Rose of Sharon and Connie could have a chance at success?

Was Ma Joad’s decision to usurp Pa’s authority and demand that the family stay together a wise one?

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1. bethany3boys - May 23, 2007

Well, Ma Joad’s decision turned out to be wise. I think it was in the long run. Really trying to catch back up with someone on the road can be such a tricky thing. It really isn’t as easy as it sounds. Something else unexpected could have happened that took them off the road or even just where they decide to camp and Tom would have possibly passed by. Guess she wasn’t really being a submitted wife. I am bad though I found this passage to be really funny. Momma hen keeping all her chicks together. Don’t mess with a Momma when it comes to her family staying together.

As far as Rose of Sharon and Connie and Ma dismissing it as a dream…I think it is due to her life experience and knowing that young people dream and that is an important part of life, but in reality how hard life can be. I don’t know during this time if they would be successful given their background and all they are up against. I look at my own life and all the dreams I had graduating college and as a newlywed and while yes some of those dreams have come true a lot have not and things have taken a different path one I never imagined but I am glad of.

2. Heather - May 28, 2007

Hey, gals, sorry I jumped ahead and referred to some things from the next couple of chapters in my post! That’s what happens when I read to far ahead and save my comments for later! Sorry about that!

3. Heather - May 28, 2007

Oops! Now I just posted that last comment in the wrong section! It should be under Chapter 13-15! Man, I better go get another cup of coffee…

4. Heather - May 28, 2007

Good points, Bethany. The older you get, the more loosely you hold your dreams! I agree that Connie and Rose of Sharon have a lot of obstacles to climb to fulfill those dreams, and their background definitely is a weight. I thought it was interesting that right before that discussion between Rose of Sharon and Ma, there was this passage: “Ma, beside him, had folded her hands in her lap, had retired into a resistance against weariness. She sat loosely, letting the movement of the car sway her body and her head. She squinted her eyes ahead at the mountains. Rose of Sharon was braced against the movement of the car, her feet pushed tightly against the floor, and her right elbow hooked over the door. And her plump face was tight against the movement, and her head jiggled sharply because her neck muscles were tight. She tried to arch her whole body as a rigid container to preserve her fetus from shock. She turned her head toward her mother.” P. 164. When I read that I was really struck by the different images – Ma sitting loosely, “going with the flow” vs. Rose of Sharon braced and rigid. The same can be said of their dreams for the future.

That whole scene with Ma was funny, Bethany! That’s the perfect image – a mama hen! I loved her quote, “You done this ‘thought thinkin’ much…What we got lef’ in the worl’? Nothin’ but us. Nothin’ but the folks.”

5. Heather - May 28, 2007

I think Chapter 17 is fascinating as it describes how the little roadside worlds are formed. I think I said this before, but Steinbeck really gets human nature. Here we see the lonely, perplexed, sad and defeated huddling together and finding comfort and strength. We see human beings innately knowing which rights to protect and which rights to crush; we see natural leaders rising up; we see laws being made and codes enforced. We see a community being born. It’s interesting that there were only two punishments – a quick and murderous fight or ostracism, and ostracism was the worst. (P. 194). Ostracism was a worse punishment than death, because the guilty wouldn’t be accepted in any world. “And a kind of insurance developed in these nights. A man with food fed a hungry man, and thus insured himself against hunger.” P. 195

6. bethany3boys - May 28, 2007

Heather I didn’t notice that visual between Ma and Rose Of Sharon what a great picture.


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