Tom Joad - “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

A Comprehensive Analysis of Literary Protagonists - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Tom Joad - “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

The Dynamic Force of Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath"

A literary classic, John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" portrays the Joad family's anguish and tribulations as they deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Tom Joad, a multifaceted and dynamic figure at the center of this epic story, uses his journey to powerfully represent resiliency, social justice, and the unbreakable human spirit. We shall go deeply into the character of Tom Joad in this analysis, taking into account his growth, function in the narrative, history, disposition, interpersonal connections, deeds, conflicts, and final importance.

Determine the Type of Character

Tom Joad is revealed as a dynamic figure who changes significantly during the story. He initially comes home from prison feeling distant and resentful, but as the narrative progresses, he transforms into a fervent supporter of social justice and the downtrodden. The way he struggles with his changing perception of the world and his place in it shows how dynamic he is.

Examine the Character's Position in the Narrative

Tom Joad takes up the role of the protagonist, even though the Joad family is the main focus of the book. The story progresses because of his experiences, development, and deeds, and he ends up becoming a symbol for the misery of the impoverished during the Great Depression. As a result of Tom's voyage being entwined with the novel's larger socio-economic and political issues, Steinbeck's image of a society in crisis is greatly enhanced.

Look Into the Past of the Character

Tom's character is greatly influenced by his past. He was raised on a farm and initially upholds traditional values and an individualistic mindset. But his murderous prison sentence serves as a spur for transformation. Tom's family's hardships and the harsh reality of the outside world force him to reassess his ideas and question the social conventions that support injustice.

Examine Personality Traits of the Character

Tom Joad possesses a wide range of characteristics. Because of his incarceration and the struggles he has faced, he initially comes across as distant and tough. However, beneath this façade is a really sensitive and compassionate person. Tom's empathy and sense of justice emerge more throughout the story, exposing a man with a strong moral compass and a desire to strive for a better society.

Assess the Character's Interactions

Tom's growth depends heavily on the relationships he has both inside and outside of the Joad family. His relationship with Ma Joad is especially important because it represents the resilience of family bonds in the face of hardship. Tom's ideological change is further aided by his contacts with Jim Casy, a former preacher who is now a philosopher. His interactions with other migrants highlight the ongoing struggle for survival and dignity on a group level.

Examine the Behavior of the Character

Tom's actions provide us with a lens through which to see his development. His acts are first driven by a desire for autonomy and personal independence, but as he grows to support the weak and downtrodden, they acquire a more general, humanitarian goal. Tom's choice to get involved in labor movements and defend workers' rights is a reflection of his dedication to social change as well as his own development.

Determine the Conflicts the Character Faces

Throughout the book, Tom Joad deals with both internal and external issues. He struggles with the contradiction between individualism and group accountability on the inside. He deals with the structural inequities that are supported by strong interests on the outside, including the harsh tactics used by the police and large landowners to exploit their subjugation. These confrontations serve as testing grounds for Tom's development and support the novel's main socioeconomic critique.

Evaluate Character Development or Shift

It's evident to see how Tom has grown from a conceited person to a selfless social justice activist. His sessions with Jim Casy, who instills a concept of group action and unity, signal a turning point in his transformation. Tom's readiness to give up his independence for the benefit of others shows how much his priorities and values have changed.

Provide Proof to Back Up Your Analysis

Tom himself provides an example of his own progress. He states early on in the book that he has been in McAlester, or the prison there, and that this has made him want independence. My time is over. I'm leaving. His later declarations, like the one in which he says, "I'll be all around in the dark," show a greater dedication to justice, in stark contrast to his initial emphasis on personal freedom. I'll be present everywhere. I'll be there anywhere you can look, wherever there's a conflict, to make food available to the hungry." These passages highlight how profound Tom's change has been.

Determine the Significance of the Character

The relevance of Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath" goes beyond the pages of the book. He is a representation of the human spirit's tenacity in the face of hardship and a stand for opposition to social injustice. Tom's transformation from a self-centered person to a selfless activist serves as a reminder of both the ability of one person to make a difference and the transformational potential of group effort. His importance comes from his development on a personal level as well as from the larger social and political themes that his persona carries. Steinbeck asks readers to reflect on their personal morals and the shared duty we have to build a society that is more compassionate and just through Tom Joad.