The Grapes of Wrath

By: Jillian Spera


In the Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck, many different characters and symbols are used to give a deeper meaning to the story along with portraying a western family trying to survive in the early years of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. In this novel a few of the characters serve as symbols while others represent various traits. Even thought for the majority of the novel Tom Joad seems to be the main character, it is very arguable that he is actually not that as his younger sister Rose of Sharon overshadows him in the very last scene of the novel.
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Rose of Sharon

In the beginning of the novel Rose of Sharon is first seen as a whiny, immature young girl who is also pregnant with her first child. She is living with her equally immature husband Connie who tends to reinforce her annoying behaviors. Together they dream of a grand future in California where they own a little white house and Connie supports the family by going to college at night. Besides various warnings from her parents that this isn't a reality Rose truly believes that this will be in her future. Connie soon realizes this and instead of facing his problems he runs away abandoning his wife and unborn child. As time goes on Rose becomes increasingly more whiny, irritable and sometimes unbearable until the final scene of the novel where she grows up to become a mature adult in a time of need.


The Evolution of Rose of Sharon

By losing the two people that Rose cared about the most, her biggest fears finally came true. However there was some good to come out of all of this. Rose had to do what ever her younger siblings had done a long time before her: they lost their innocence and grew up. In order to get the family to a safer place during the flood, Rose has very little time to mourn her child realizing that herself and her family are in danger. Tom, who has been the protecter of the family from the time he came back, is off on his own and can't help the family now. The next oldest brother, Al, is gone as well just so he can be with his girlfriend and her family. Rose realizes that she has to be strong for the sake of the family and she has to act her age to set a good example for young Ruthie and Winfield. Rose undergoes an incredible growth within just a few hours of losing her firstborn. Her family encounters the dying man and his son and Rose knows exactly what she has to do. If Rose were as childish as she had been earlier on in the book she would never have agreed to do what she did in the final pages of the novel. Rose of Sharon was able to undergo such a large change in such a small amount of time it almost seems unreal. She breastfed a dying man without a second thought despite going through the tragedy of losing her baby just a few hours before. She provides life for a complete stranger in his greatest time of need and her greatest time of despair. In the novel the unborn baby always stood as the symbol for hope, but it was really Rose of Sharon the whole time.