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Tom Joad Progression


            In George Stienback's Grapes of Wrath, we witness the migration of people from the central United States, to California. In this novel, it is also witnessed that the main character, Tom Joad, progresses into three different "people."" At first he is self-oriented and doing everything around himself. Then, after a third of the book passes, he changes into a family oriented man, helping out whenever possible. Finally, towards the end of the novel, he changes into the leader of the migrant group and tries to keep everyone together and strong. He looks out for the best interests of the family and the group. This three part progression changes Tom Joad from all about himself, to all about the group.
             Tom Joad is fresh out of prison after spending four years at McAlester Penitentiary for killing a man. In the beginning of this novel, Tom is self-oriented. He has no problem doing things for himself, and helps out the family through himself. Tom devotes his time and energy to the task at hand at that moment, and really doesn't care much about the future. He believes that putting his life in context larger than the present day will drive him crazy, so he is reluctant to do so. He works by himself when the Joad family is preparing to leave for the West, and his conversations with Jim Casey show that Tom Joad is at first a self-oriented man. Yet, this changes quite soon.
             Soon after they leave for California, a new, more mature Tom Joad comes into the picture. He is now a family-oriented who works hard for things that will benefit the family. He helps members of the family with their tasks, as well as doing his own tasks with the family. He works for the family's well-being as well. Tom helps the family emotionally - especially Ma - with their problems. He comforts Ma when members die, and assures her that everything will be fine. During the bulk of the novel, Tom Joad is a family man; trying to better the family in any way possible.


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