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Awesome / The Grapes of Wrath

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The Steinbeck novel

  • Ma Joad has her very own Moment of Awesome. With a jack handle.
    Tom drew his lips over his teeth and then snapped them open. He spread his hands helplessly and let them flop against his sides. "Pa," he said, "if you was to rush her one side an' me the other an' then the res' pile on, an' Granma jump down on top, maybe we can get Ma 'thout more'n two-three of us gets killed with that there jack handle. But if you ain't willin' to get your head smashed, I guess Ma's went an' filled her flush. Jesus Christ, one person with their mind made up can shove a lot of folks aroun'! You win, Ma. Put away that jack handle 'fore you hurt somebody."
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  • Rose of Sharon's breastfeeding of the dying man is listed under Heartwarming Moments, but it could also go here in that we see someone who had spent the rest of the book being selfish and only concerned with herself finally decide to apply herself to help the needy as her family has done.

The 1940 Ford film

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  • Tom and Casy knocking out a contractor after he tried shoot migrant who resisted arrest, because he was falsely accused of a crime.
  • The fact the Jim Casy was willing to cover for Tom, take the blame for the incident, and get arrested for it definitely deserves a mention here. True Companions, indeed.
    • As it turns out later, Casy never even went to prison, he was just run out of town.
  • Jim Casy and a bunch of others creating a strike against the low starvation wages.
  • How does Tom respond to witnessing a thug knock out Casy? He protects Casy from additional attacks and kills Casy's assailant. Sure he got a serious face wound from the attack, but he was still there for Casy.
  • Ma Joad. She single-headedly held up the Joad family structure, protected and comforted it, and she was able to handle everything she went through. Plus she had several resourceful moments.
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    • When Grampa refused to go to California with the rest of the Joads, Ma suggested using some soothing syrup to make him sleepy/drunk long enough to get him in the truck with the rest of the family.
    • When the Joads reached an agricultural inspection station, the California officers wanted the Joads to unload their truck, but Ma convinced the officers her mother was sick and had to go to a doctor (in reality, Granma was already dead before they reached the station).
    • While in the Hooverville Transient-Migrant Camp, there was a group of starving children wanting some of her homemade stew. Even with her family wanting the food as much as them, she was kind enough to share the stew with the others, while still having enough for the Joads.
    • When she learns about Tom killing Casy's murderer, her response is this:
    Ma: "I wished ya didn't do it, but ya done what ya had to do."
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    • Towards the end of the film, she kept vowing to hold the family together and handle any beating that comes their way. A rather optimistic ending compared to the original novel.
    Ma: Scared, ha! I ain't never gonna be scared no more. I was though, for a while it looked as though we was beat, good and beat. Looked like we didn't have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kind of bad, and scared too. Like we was lost and nobody cared.
    Pa: You're the one that keeps us goin', Ma. I ain't no good no more, and I know it. Seems like I spend all my time these days thinkin' how it used to be. Thinkin' of home. I ain't never gonna see it no more.
    Ma: Well, Pa. A woman can change better'n a man. A man lives, sorta, well, in jerks. Baby's born and somebody dies, and that's a jerk. He gets a farm or loses it, and that's a jerk. With a woman, it's all in one flow like a stream. Little eddies and waterfalls, but the river it goes right on. A woman looks at it that way.
    Pa: Well, maybe, but we sure taken a beatin'.
    Ma: I know. That's what makes us tough. Rich fellas come up an' they die an' their kids ain't no good, an' they die out. But we keep a-comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out. They can't lick us. And we'll go on forever, Pa... 'cause... we're the people.
  • Tom Joad's speech. Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen both thought it was awesome and both wrote songs about it. Guthrie's song, "Tom Joad" was made available on his album Dust Bowl Ballads.
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