The Culture of Patriarchy in John Steinbeck's: The Grapes of Wrath

Fatma Babacheikh Boudali


The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, is a masterpiece in American literature written by the notorious American author John Steinbeck. The novel is about the journey of a family of migrant workers the Joads during the Great Depression. The family leaves Oklahoma and goes to California in order to improve its social conditions, utterly degraded after the outcome of the economic crisis and the Dust Bowl, a natural phenomenon that weakened agriculture. The present paper seeks to show the decline of patriarchy, in favor of matriarchy throughout the storyline.  Indeed, the reader is flabbergasted to notice the way in which Steinbeck dispossesses Tom Joad Senior, from his lifetime role as the head of the family, in favor of a powerful Ma Joad, a strong and confident woman. Moreover, in the beginning of the novel, we identify Tom Joad Junior as being the hero of the literary work; however, his sister Rose of Sharon ends up endorsing the role of heroine. In fact, the work of fiction ends up on her heroic act of breastfeeding a total stranger in order to save his life from a slow and torturing death.


patriarchal, matriarchal, identity, dust bowl, Great Depression.

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