Rose of Sharon: Loss of Innocence

Emma Hodge

Before the Move West: Innocent

Before the move west, Rose of Sharon was happily married to Connie and was just expecting her first child. She was very young, but living with Connie's family before the family left for California. "An' Rosasharn, she's nestin' with Connie's folks. By God! You don't even know Rosasharn's married to Connie Rivers. You 'member Connie. Nice young fella. An' Rosasharn's due 'bout three-four-five months now" (Steinbeck 83). Rose of Sharon is described as careful and beautiful, and different pregnant than she was before she and Connie got married. Connie is described as a gentleman and essentially the perfect husband. Rose of Sharon had no reason not to trust him, had no reason to be unhappy, and seemed optimistic about the move to California. Rose of Sharon goes through a period where she feels maternal and like helping as much as she can, and she did fairly hard jobs herself too. One example is when Steinbeck describes Rose of Sharon in a very feminine way and how he makes a point that she's only looked like this since she got pregnant. Steinbeck also mentions how she was a tomboy when she and Connie got married. Some of those traits still show, but she looks more feminine than she did before she was pregnant. "And Rose of Sharon brought out the big piece of tarpaulin and spread it on the ground behind the truck. She struggled through the door with the mattresses, three double ones and a single. She piled them on the tarpaulin and brought arm-loads of folded ragged blankets and piled them up" (Steinbeck 107). She was excited to move there and was eager to pack up so the family could move west. She was never asked by Ma to do any work, always doing it by herself. She also never complained about the way the Joad family lived without money or about her husband or soon-to-be child.
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During the Move West: Loss of Innocence

Connie leaves the Joad family, even after being extremely caring for Rose of Sharon. Rose of Sharon starts worrying about becoming a mother right before he leaves, and does things she things a mother should do. One example is when she says she not thirsty but that she should drink more water, presumably because she thinks that's what a mother should do. When the Joads finally arrive to the government camp, Rose of Sharon is excited about how good the facilities and the nurse will be for her baby. Then the lady from the government camp comes to visit the Joad family in their campsite, and warns Rose of Sharon about her baby. "If you got sin on you-you better watch out for that there baby" (Steinbeck 308). This freaks Rose of Sharon out and she starts to panic about all the sins she thinks she's made. This is the beginning of her loss of innocence, and her realizing she think's the baby won't live. Her loss of innocence seems to correlate with the amount of death she experiences. At this point in The Grapes of Wrath, the grandparents have both died, and Rose of Sharon seems to panic more and think more about losing her baby as more people pass away.
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After the Move West

At the very end of the book, Rose of Sharon complains about all the chores she has to do, and is extremely worried about her child. She's emotional and tired, and finally realizing Connie isn't coming back. At this point, she's almost completely lost her innocence and she's realizing her baby isn't doing well, and Steinbeck makes note of that when she runs to the bushes and lays down. "Only when she felt the bushes touching her all over did she stop. She stretched out on her back. And she felt the weight of the baby inside of her" (Steinbeck 425). Once she has the baby, and it's stillborn, she comes to full realization that her childhood is over and she needs to be responsible. She feels guilty that her baby didn't survive and the reader can assume she feels responsible for it being dead. Once she comes to terms and accepts that she can't dwell on it, she knows she has to help the starving man in the barn and act like an adult. In this case, helping feed the man is all she needs to realize she can be happy, independent, and living without a husband or a child for the time being. "She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously" (Steinbeck 455).
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Photo Works Cited

Character Analysis