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John Steinbeck’s book Grapes of Wrath vividly depicts a family’s wild ride from Oklahoma to California and their seemingly never ending journey to find a stable job and home. Something that changes along the way is the definition of family. ‘in the beginning of the story, the Joads stuck together, and they only planned on bringing anyone who was related to them. The extent of it ended with Connie, who was married to Rose of Sharon and would technically count as family. In the beginning, the family needed to discuss whether or not they would allow Casy to tag along with them. They ultimately decided to let him join them, expanding their “family”. As time went on, the Joad’s definition of freedom expanded out and began to include the people that they met along the road. The Wilsons were a family in need and the Joads offered to travel with them, which once again expanded their family to people on the road. Then when Ma was making stew, she also fed the starving kids that flocked near the smell of the food. Then when Al decided to get married to Aggie Wainwright, both families celebrate and work together. But overall, I think that by the time the story ends, “family” is now a loosely defined word and to the Joads, it means anyone who’s struggling like them and needs a shoulder. In Chapter 26, Ma makes a comment that really resonates for the rest of the story. “If you’re in trouble or hurt or need- go to poor people. they’re the only ones that’ll help- the only ones.” It shows how the people who have experienced the pain are the only ones who know how hard it is to survive. The pain is what brings the people together and make them whole. Their struggles are shared by others to make the burden lighter. This is all shown by how the migrant farmers all band together and try to make their conditions more bearable.


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