What are the central issues that the Joad family face?
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The second and younger Joad daughter. Ruthie has a fiery relationship to her brother Winfield: the two are intensely dependent upon one another and fiercely competitive. When she brags to another child that her brother has killed two men, she inadvertently puts Tom’s life in danger, forcing him to flee.(Sparknotes)
She's 12 years old.
Ruthie is Tom Joad's twelve-year-old sister, and she is both "grime-faced and wild" and "a little serious in her young-ladiness" (10.46). She can be a trouble-maker too, starting fights when she can't get what she wants. She's like that little girl who's starved for attention, and who only knows how to get what she wants by kicking and screaming and coercing people. She gets Winfield into trouble all the time, and she pretends to be tougher than she is.