John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and Rose of Sharon’s Transformation

681 Words3 Pages
Misfit to Madonna: Rose of Sharon’s Transformation When Rose of Sharon is first introduced in The Grapes of Wrath, we learn that she is expecting a child from her new husband, Connie Rivers. She is described as a mystical being whose primary concern is the well-being of her child, even at the almost ridiculously early stage of her pregnancy at the start of the novel. It is this concern that illustrates Rose of Sharon’s transformation from misfit to Madonna through the Joad’s journey. Rose of Sharon incessantly asks Ma Joad if “it’ll hurt the baby” throughout a majority of the novel, and adopts an attitude of superiority over others with her precious possession. She all but refuses to help the family pack the truck for California for fear of disturbing her fetus, even though she knows her help is needed. Her selfish antics and complaints are patiently absorbed by Ma, who tolerates her primarily because of her condition. Rose of Sharon knows that she is now an exception to the normal rules and exploits her position to its fullest potential. During the journey Rose of Sharon and Connie pass the time by dreaming of the idyllic life they will lead when they reach California. Connie says he will open a repair shop and buy a white house with a fence and an icebox and a car and a crib, all before the baby is born; all hopelessly idealistic and almost completely detached from reality. Every intention, though, is for the baby so that it may have a perfect life from the very moment it is born. In the face of hardships, Rose of Sharon comforts herself by remembering these dreamlike goals of her family and even reminds others of them, intending to lift the burden of reality. She does so when the sheriff threatens the roadside families to leave or be jailed. She tells Ma of Connie’s plans for California, which have nothing to do with the situation at that moment. This escape only proves to ultimately hurt Rose of Sharon and Connie; they learn that illusions don’t support a life when survival is the priority. Rose of Sharon’s dreams of a perfect life start to fall apart when Connie deserts her suddenly. She can no longer find comfort in shared thoughts of a white-picket fence, and is forced to face reality. However, instead of concentrating on the Joad family crises, she diverts her worries fully to her baby once again.

More about John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath and Rose of Sharon’s Transformation

Open Document