Grapes of Wrath Character Comparison Essay

To me, the most apparent “round character” in The Grapes of Wrath was Tom Joad - Grapes of Wrath Character Comparison Essay introduction. The “flat character” I would have to say was Al Joad. Tom Joad is almost an equally important character, and is also the first character seen. Right from the beginning of the story, he seems to be the “black sheep”, due mostly to the fact that he has spent some time in jail for manslaughter. His characterization is done mostly indirectly, through his family’s response to his being out of jail. He is also developed, to a lesser extent, directly, by his attitude of “one foot before the other” kind of living. He is definitely a round, dynamic character. In the beginning, he is thinking more or less only of himself, and doesn’t consider the “bigger picture”. But by the end of the story, it becomes clear he has come to accept Jim Casy’s views on the world in general, when he states, “That Casy. He might have been a preacher but he seen things clear. He was like a lantern. He helped me to see things clear.” He plans to organize the people against the money hungry employers, even though Jim himself has already been killed because of those same beliefs. He states to his mom, “I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin’. And I been wonderin’ if all our folks got together and yelled…”

Al Joad is Tom Joad’s sixteen-year-old brother who likes to “billygoat” and “tomcat” his way around the country. He drove a truck for a company the year before, and so he becomes the family mechanic, able to drive cars and fix them, too. He looks up to his older brother, Tom: “Al knew that even he had inspired some admiration among boys of his own age because his brother had killed a man”. However, living in his big brother’s shadow can be a lot of pressure. Al likes girls a lot, but being only sixteen, he has no intention of getting married anytime soon. He promises to marry one girl in Weedpatch, and then eventually gets engaged to another girl who lives in the same abandoned boxcar as he does. As the winter rains flood the land, Al decides to split apart from his family, remaining with his fiancée and her family. He comes off as a flat character because even with his entire family and everyone he knows is struggling; he chooses to be selfish and worry about himself rather than head to California to try to make a living with the rest of his family.

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