The Grapes of Wrath

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Rose of Sharon Character Analysis

Rose of Sharon, also referred to as Rosasharn, is a sister of Tom’s. She is pregnant, and married to Connie Rivers. Rosasharn often falls victim to superstitious concerns about the health of her baby-to-be, and loves to wallow in her guilt. At the book’s close, Rosasharn serves as an iconic symbol of the text by breastfeeding a grown man to rescue him from starvation.

Rose of Sharon Quotes in The Grapes of Wrath

The The Grapes of Wrath quotes below are all either spoken by Rose of Sharon or refer to Rose of Sharon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Grapes of Wrath published in 2002.
Chapter 10 Quotes

And now they [the Joads] were weary and frightened because they had gone against a system they did not understand and it had beaten them.

Related Characters: Tom Joad, Ma Joad, Pa Joad, Rose of Sharon, Grampa Joad, Granma Joad, Al Joad
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Some of the members of the family had gone into town to sell everything in the house that they can. They have returned, however, with only eighteen dollars for all of it. They felt that their belongings were worth much more, but the buyer wouldn't pay more than that for them, and they could not find a way to "beat" this system. This is the first hint for the Joads that their plan of salvation, their migration to California, will be beset with difficulties just as great as those they have faced in Oklahoma. Their battles with the "system" will not end just because they are leaving this one physical place. Indeed, it is their lack of understanding how exactly this system works, and what its power might have in store for them, that increases their suspicion and even despair before the long road ahead of them.

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“They's a time of change, an' when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearin' is a piece of all bearin', an bearin' an' dyin' is two pieces of the same thing. An' then things ain't lonely any more. An' then a hurt don't hurt so bad, cause it ain't a lonely hurt no more, Rosasharn. I wisht I could tell you so you'd know, but I can't.”

Related Characters: Ma Joad (speaker), Rose of Sharon
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

Granma seems to be losing her mind, as she starts speaking incoherently and imagining that her husband is there with her. Rose of Sharon is worried about her, and here Ma Joad attempts to reassure her. She does so by making an appeal to the larger forces that structure human life. Giving birth, bearing children, and dying are all part of the same process, she says, and it is impossible to have one without the other. Ma Joad takes solace in this vision of death, because it suggests that we are not alone - that what seems frightening, unknown, and lonely to us in fact fits into a broader meaning.

Ma Joad does seem to have developed her own beliefs about life and death beyond what her Christian heritage has taught her. Instead, she draws on all that she's learned regarding the ability for humans to come together in a community. This community might be fragile, but she continues to believe in it enough for it to structure her beliefs.

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Rose of Sharon Character Timeline in The Grapes of Wrath

The timeline below shows where the character Rose of Sharon appears in The Grapes of Wrath. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...his family. Uncle John has gone into town with Ruthie and Winfield, Tom’s youngest siblings. Rosasharn (short for “Rose of Sharon”), Tom’s sister, is now pregnant and living with her husband,... (full context)
Chapter 10
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
The rest of the family comes back from town with Rosasharn and Connie in tow; the men are disappointed that they only managed to get eighteen... (full context)
Chapter 13
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
...vehicle only slows down briefly to survey the damage it has done before speeding off. Rosasharn worries that watching the dog’s gory death might hurt her unborn child. The gas station... (full context)
Chapter 16
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
Rosasharn tells Ma that once the group arrives in California, she and Connie plan to live... (full context)
Chapter 18
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Granma raves in the stifling heat, yelling out at Grampa Joad. Rosasharn looks after her, and is distressed, but Ma Joad explains that birth and death are... (full context)
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
A sheriff pokes his head into the tent that houses Ma Joad, Rosasharn, and Granma. He calls the family “Okies” and tells them that they aren’t welcome to... (full context)
Chapter 20
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
Rosasharn and Connie argue about their future. Connie remarks that if he had known things would... (full context)
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...tells Pa that they need to leave, because the camp will likely be burned tonight. Rosasharn cannot find Connie, and Al reveals that he saw him walking south along the river—he... (full context)
Chapter 22
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
Rosasharn is approached by a religious zealot named Mrs. Sandry, who warns Rosasharn about the dangers... (full context)
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
The three women in charge of the camp’s Ladies’ Committee visit Ma and Rosasharn and explain how their committee regulates some aspects of camp life, particularly sanitation. The three... (full context)
Chapter 24
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...dance, Al flirts with a girl, but is chased away by the girl’s mother. Meanwhile, Rosasharn agrees to come to the dance with Ma, but on the condition that she can... (full context)
Chapter 26
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
Rosasharn complains that she is undernourished and worries for her child. Ma gives Rosasharn her gold... (full context)
Chapter 28
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...and the Wainwrights’ sixteen-year-old daughter, Agnes, are going to get married. The families rejoice together. Rosasharn is discomforted by the news, and is determined to try and pick cotton the next... (full context)
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...in the morning. As the family drives back to their boxcar, a heavy rain begins. Rosasharn shivers violently and complains of feeling ill, and the family rushes to make her comfortable. (full context)
Chapter 30
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...go with the Wainwrights if the families split up. On the third day of rain, Rosasharn goes into labor. The Joads have no option other than to stay. (full context)
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Faith and Guilt Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...Pa returns from the failed effort to build the dam, Mrs. Wainwright tells him that Rosasharn’s baby was stillborn. Pa agonizes to Ma about his responsibility for the failed dam, but... (full context)
Humanity, Inhumanity, and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Dignity, Honor, and Wrath Theme Icon
Powerlessness, Perseverance, and Resistance Theme Icon
Family, Friendship, and Community Theme Icon
...food down. The boy begs for milk or soup to give his father. Ma and Rosasharn exchange a wordless glance, and Rosasharn says “Yes.” The family leaves the barn, and Rosasharn... (full context)