How has Steinbeck portrayed gender roles in the novel so far?
It is clear that men are the "heads" of the family, and that all female family members acknowledge this; the portrayal of the family meeting in Chapter 10, and even Ma's response to Casy's request, show this, as do many earlier examples (such as the passage in Chapter 1 when women worry that "their men" will "break"). However, among the Joads, Ma seems to function as both the conscience and the engine of the family—she asks questions that no one else is asking, and knows how to suggest the right steps and make pragmatic assessments. Rose of Sharon, although she takes much less action, is also a powerful force—...
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