A hero can be described as someone who is strong, generous, unselfish, and determined. Steinbeck does an excellent job of defining a hero in the novel through the character, Ma Joad. Even if she is not a part of the circle, her opinion is always relevant when it comes to making big decisions involving the family. Throughout the journey to California, Ma is what keeps the family in check.
Starting from the beginning, Ma is seen as a strong woman, “Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding” (74). Previous tragedies that occurred in her life developed her and made her resilient. Her intuition is seen when she starts to doubt all the wonderful things said about living in the west. ‘“I’m scared of stuff so nice. I ain’t got faith. I’m scared somepin ain’t so nice about it”’ (91). Before the trip has even begun, she is well aware that something is not right.
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She is generous in how she let Jim Casy join them on their journey to California. Although Pa is worried about an extra mouth to feed, Ma is certain of her decision ‘“It ain’t kin we? It’s will we?” … as far as ‘will,’ why, we’ll do what we will. An’ as far as ‘will’ its’s a long time our folks been here and east before, an’ I never heerd tell of no Joads or no Hazletts, neither, never refusin’ food an’ shelter or a lift on the road to anybody that asked”’ (102).
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