The Great Depression was a trying time on almost all Americans. It was a time of poverty, confusion, and pathos. The Glass Menagerie and The Grapes of Wrath are works of literature set in this time period. They both focus on describing the lives of Americans trying to make their living. These books convey the difficulty and stress that families had to go through just to earn a pitiful living. Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath and Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie are both young adults who are forced with the pressure of leading and supporting their families during the Great Depression, while attempting to discover who they are.
In reading both of these pieces of literature, one finds many likenesses in Tom Joad and Tom Wingfield. The first of those likenesses is the matriarchy that they live in. Although Tom Joad has a dad, the ruler of the household is still his mother. The mother in both of these books takes care of the entire family while the father, or lack there of, plays a part only in the background. Another likeness is the short temper that these two characters posses. Both characters seem to lose their tempers very easily. Tom Wingfield gets in a heated argument with his mother every time the reader sees them interact. Tom Joad, on the other hand, rarely looses his temper, but the effects are extreme. During one instance he actually kills a man, endangering the lives of his entire family, and causing his own seclusion. The name Tom is something that both of them share. This is an interesting phenomenon because since they are so close in character and in symbolism that one wonders if the names were not just a coincidence.
However, at the culmination of each work of literature, the characters, through a similar action, display their distinct differences. Both Tom Joad and Tom Wingfield leave their families. The difference in character lies in the motives behind each Tom's departure.