The Grapes of Wrath Ruthie Quotes

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

''The Grapes of Wrath'' is the story of the Joads and their journey to California to look for work. This lesson provides insight on Ruthie, one of the Joads' youngest children.

The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath is the story of the Joad family as they are kicked off their farm and forced to drive to California to find work. The story is set during the Great Depression, which makes the job environment even more challenging--as so many jobs have been eliminated, the farmers have no other options. The Joads move out to California only to find that the work available is scarce and the money is meager. They end up traveling from camp to camp while trying to find a farm that needs workers. By the end of the novel, the Joads have to leave their train car home to find shelter from the flood. There is very little hope in this novel, but there is a strong theme of strength. This strength shows the power of the poverty-stricken migrant workers and persevere through the tough times, which is something Steinbeck tried to emphasize.

Older than Her Years

Ruthie is one of the many children of Ma and Pa Joad, and is merely 12 years old when the family decides to travel to California. She is excited about it because she realizes this is the biggest moment in her life so far. ''But Ruthie was older, and she knew the tremendousness of the time. 'And goin' to California,' she said again.'' Ruthie and her brother Winfield are the same age, but Ruthie is older in her speech and behavior. Unlike her brother, she is more concerned about the move than the gross image of pig blood. Although she still has fun, she seems to know the seriousness of the life the family is living. She views the move to California like a lifeline of hope, as though she realizes the poverty the family is experiencing.

Her mom, Ma Joad, talks about a prayer Ruthie said when she was very little to show how astute she was. She says: ''Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. An' when she got there the cupboard was bare, an' so the poor dog got none. Amen.'' Ruthie continues to show her maturity as the Joads deal with the death of Grandpa. They have to bury him on the side of the road, and Ruthie and Winfield watch the burial, trying to take it all in. She says ''Grandpa's down under there.'' She realizes then that she will never see her grandpa again, and that life has changed.

As they continue on their journey and end up in a camp, Ruthie starts to nurture her brother Winfield. While the two of them usually get into trouble, Ruthie realizes his immaturity and his fear. She takes him into a set of bathrooms that he has never seen before, and when he thinks he broke the toilet, Ruthie mothers him, trying to make sure he won't cry. She says '''Never you mind,' she said. 'I won't tell on you. We'll pretend like she was already broke. We'll pretend we ain't even been in here.' She led him out of the building.''

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