Great Characters Wiki

Ma Joad is a supporting protagonist of John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath and the John Ford 1940 film adaptation of the same name.

In the 1940 film, she was portrayed by Jane Darwell

Why She Rocks

  1. She's the backbone of the Joad family, and the one who kept the family together through.
  2. Despite everything she went through, she handled it all like a champ and remained calm.
  3. She's a well-hearted, caring and protective mother figure to the Joads and others around her, especially Tom.
  4. She had several moments of resourcefulness.
    1. When Grampa refused to go to California with the rest of the Joads, Ma suggested using some soothing syrup to make him sleepy/drunk long enough to get him in the truck with the rest of the family.
    2. When the Joads reached an agricultural inspection station, the California officers wanted the Joads to unload their truck, but Ma convinced the officers her mother was sick and had to go to a doctor (in reality, Granma was already dead before they reached the station).
  5. Jane Darwell does an excellent portrayal as the character.
  6. Her famous speech during the ending shows how she vowed to be braver and make it through unjust economic system


Jane Darwell the actress who portrayed Ma, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1940.