GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
Tom Joad: The central character of the novel, he is a recently
released inmate imprisoned for murder who returns home to
find that his family has lost their farm and is moving west
to California. Tom is a plainspoken, forthright and direct
man, yet he still retains some of his violent tendencies.
The mother of Noah, Tom, Rose of Sharon, Ruthie and Winfield,
Ma Joad is a woman accustomed to hardship and deprivation.
She is a forceful woman who is determined to keep her family
together at nearly all costs, yet remains kind toward all,
even sparing what little the family has for those even less
Although Pa Joad is the head of the Joad household, he is
not a forceful presence. Without the ability to provide for
his family, he recedes into the background, playing little
prominent role in deciding the fate of his family.
Uncle John: A morose man prone to depression and alcoholism,
Uncle John believes himself to be the cause of the family's
misfortune. He blames himself for the death of his wife several
years ago, and has carried the guilt of that event with him.
of Sharon: Tom Joad's younger sister, recently married to
Connie Rivers and pregnant with his child, Rose of Sharon
is the one adult who retains a sense of optimism in the future.
She dreams of a middle-class life with her husband and child,
but becomes paranoid and disillusioned once her husband abandons
her when they reach California.
Rivers: The shiftless husband of Rose of Sharon, Connie dreams
of taking correspondence courses that will provide him with
job opportunities and the possibility of a better life. When
he reaches California and does not find work, he immediately
becomes disillusioned and abandons his pregnant wife.
Joad: Tom's older brother, he suffers from mental disabilities
that likely occurred during childbirth. He leaves the family
to remain an outsider from society, supporting himself by
catching fish at the nearby river.
Tom's younger brother, at sixteen years old he is concerned
with cars and girls, and remains combative and truculent toward
the rest of the family. Out of the Joad family, he has the
most knowledge of cars, and fears that the rest of the family
will blame him if anything goes wrong. He dreams of becoming
a mechanic, and becomes engaged to Aggie Wainwright by the
end of the novel.
Joad: One of the two small children in the Joad family, it
is Ruthie who reveals that Tom is responsible for the murder
at Hooper Ranch, forcing him to leave his family to escape
capture by the police.
Joad: The other small child in the Joad family, Winfield becomes
severely ill during the course of the novel from deprivation,
but survives his illness.
Joad: An energetic, feisty old man, Grampa refuses to leave
Oklahoma with the rest of his family, but is forcibly taken
on the journey after he is drugged by the other family members.
Soon afterward, unable to bear leaving the area where he had
long lived, Grampa dies of a stroke.
Joad: Granma Joad does not survive much longer than her husband.
She becomes severely ill on the journey to California, and
dies not long after they reach the state.
Jim Casy: A fallen preacher who too often succumbed to temptation,
Casy left the ministry when he realized that he did not believe
in absolute ideas of sin. He espouses the idea that all that
is holy comes from collective society, a belief that he places
in practical context when, after time in jail, he becomes
involved with labor activists. Casy is a martyr for his beliefs,
murdered in a confrontation with police.
Graves: Muley is a crazy elderly man who reveals to Tom Joad
the fate of his family. Having lost his home and farmland,
his wife and children left Oklahoma for California, but Muley
decided to remain, where he attempts to elude the police for
his constant trespassing and live outside of society.
Wilson: She and her family aid the Joads when Grampa Joad
has a stroke, and decides to continue with the Joads on the
way to California, for the two families can help each other
on the way. She falls ill at the first camp where the two
families stay, and remains there with the rest of her family,
facing the possibility of arrest for trespassing.
He is a half-crazed old migrant worker driven Œbull-simple'
from continued torture by the California police.
Knowles: He befriends Al Joad and tells the Joad family about
work opportunities and about the government camp at Weedpatch.
and Wilkie Wallace: These two brothers are Weedpatch camp
residents who take Tom to find work when they arrive at the
The contractor who hires Tom and the Wallaces, he warns the
men about the intruders who will interrupt the dance at the
Bullitt: She is the head of the Ladies Committee at Weedpatch
who gives Ma Joad a tour of the facilities.
Summers: She is the assistant to Jessie Bullitt and formerly
the head of the Ladies Committee who frequently bickers with
Jessie over insignificant details.
He is the manager of the camp at Weedpatch who treats the
Joads with an unexpected respect.
Sandry: She is a fundamentalist zealot who complains about
the alleged sin that takes place at the government camp, including
dancing, and frightens Rose of Sharon with her admonitions
Huston: He is the elected head of the Central Committee at
Weedpatch who advises Tom and the other men on how to deal
with the situation at the Saturday dance.
Eaton: He is the head of the Weedpatch entertainment committee
who defuses the problem of the intruders and the police during
Wainwright: She is the young woman to whom Al Joad becomes