In the novel The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck created a fascinating array of characters. Through the trials and tribulations of the Joad family, readers understand and sympathize with those who faced the horrors resulting from the depression. The characters Steinbeck introduces are fascinating. Some characters insight feelings of sympathy while others are despised. .
Although the Joad family revolves around Ma Joad, the protagonist in The Grapes of Wrath is Tom Joad. Steinbeck allows us to learn about Tom through his dialogue with other characters rather than narration. Tom is introduced as a hitchhiker recently paroled from prison. Typically, given this information, one might assume he is a bad character. As the story progresses, Steinbeck skillfully convinces us that he is quite the opposite. Ex-reverend Jim Casey is a foil supporting Tom's character and conversations between them develop Tom's character. One of the statements that give readers a glimpse into the depth of Tom's character pertains to his incarceration and the rehabilitation system: "That's jus' the way things is. But when a bunch of men take and lock you up four years, it ought to have some meaning. Men is supposed to think things out. Here they put me in, an' keep me an' feed me four years. That ought to make me so I won't do her again or else punish me so I'll be afraid to do her again but if Herb or anybody else come for me, I'd do her again- (Steinbeck 55). Through such dialogue readers can infer that Tom is honest, fair, tough, and confident.
As Tom and Jim reach the Joad home, the story's antagonist is first developed. "The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it- (Steinbeck 33). Lack of money is the reason the Joads, like many other families in the story, are displaced. "The bank--the monster has to have profits all the time.