Life of Ma

By Kelly O'Regan


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Ma is more of the working type, the male figure of the family that keeps it together. She does the jobs such as, cleaning and cotton picking. She left the other jobs such as peach picking and working in the fields to the men. She always knows where they have to go next to find work. She says, "Well, we got to git goin', an' goin' quick. I ain't a-settin' here no longer, no matter how nice" (Steinbeck 351).

Ma is happy with the way she works and whats she does for the family, Steinbeck writes, "Ma put the clean dripping tin dish out on a box. She smiled down at her work" (352). She is proud to be able to do things for the family, as it is what she values most.


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Ma didn't care too much on what the living conditions were like as long as they were living. "There was no order in the camp; little gray tents, shacks, cars were scattered about at random"(241). However, they did find camp Weedpatch with showers that Ma liked, "'What's that?" "Toilets and showers and wash tubs." Ma demanded, "You got wash tubs-running water?" "Sure" "Oh! Praise God," said Ma'" (Steinbeck 286).


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Ma got the family moving west in the truck they owned, "When the truck had gone, loaded with implements, with heavy tools, with beds and springs..." (Steinbeck 90). The truck was their transportation and home for a while. It was what they had and how Ma lead the family west.


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Ma just wanted to keep her family nourished with food so they wouldn't starve. Where the would live would be determined on how much work they would get so that they could eat. Eating is what gives them strength, so they must eat to continue their journey. "The movement changed them; the highways, the camps along the road, the fear of hunger and hunger itself, changed them. The children without dinner changed them, the endless moving changed them" (Steinbeck 282).