A STEP BEYOND
TESTS AND ANSWERS
In a sense, kicking the kneeling deputy in the back of the neck was a loving act, too, since its purpose was to save Floyd from being shot. Finally, what else but love could have led Casy to let himself, instead of Tom, be arrested?
Near the beginning of the story, Casy claims to love mankind, but he doesn't know how to show it. Ma Joad teaches him, however. Think of what Casy says after he hears that Ma cradled Granma's body all through the nightlong ride across the desert.
14. The most obvious family in the novel is the Joads, all three generations of them, from Grampa to Winfield. The book tells the story of their flight from the Dust Bowl and their experiences in California. Their disintegration as a traditional family suggests what is happening to the whole society.
Then, you have the "Joads plus," consisting of the core family and others. Casy is adopted as a member. The Wilsons and Wainwrights become temporary partners. When families join with others, their chances of survival multiply. In that sense, the labor union is a type of family, too.
Ma Joad attains an even larger vision of "family." It includes "anybody." It is family unity and strength imparted to the whole human race, and is dramatically symbolized by Rose of Sharon's nursing of the dying stranger.
15. Failure is a slippery word. If all your efforts to achieve a goal come to absolutely nothing, is that failure? If you strive to reach a goal but end up with something different but equally worthy, is that failure? What if you end up with something better? You missed your goal, but did you fail? Answer such questions before you decide whether Ma Joad was a failure.
Another way to tackle this question is to ask whether Ma's dissolving family ever had a real chance to remain intact. Consider the roving of the migrants. Does instability breed more instability? Is there anything else that Ma could have done to keep the Joads together? If so, perhaps she did fail. If she did all that could be done, perhaps you'd have to draw another conclusion.
Finally, what does Ma herself think about losing her immediate family? At the end of the book she talks about "anybody" being part of the family. Would someone who thinks she's failed with a few people turn around and enfold all of Mankind in her arms?
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