Tom Joad is the novel’s protagonist. At the beginning of the novel, he has just been paroled after serving a four-year prison sentence for killing a man in self-defense. He is strong, stoic, principled, and… (read full character analysis)
Ma Joad is the ferociously dedicated matron of the Joad family. Throughout the novel she makes countless sacrifices for the good of her family, and is remarkably committed to keeping the family moving forward. Her… (read full character analysis)
Jim Casy is an ex-preacher who knew the Joads as far back as Tom’s childhood. Casy has since given up his religion, because he is afflicted by guilt for having had relations with some of… (read full character analysis)
Pa is the easygoing head of the Joad family. He often feels responsible for taking care of the entire family, even when this task far exceeds his abilities, and he works tirelessly for the Joads’… (read full character analysis)
Uncle John is Pa Joad’s brother. John is wracked with guilt over the long-past death of his young wife, whose complaints of pain he dismissed as harmless whining. He tries to atone for his… (read full character analysis)
Grampa is a curmudgeonly and somewhat depraved old man. He is reluctant to leave his home in Oklahoma, and dies shortly after the Joads begin their travels.
Granma is devoutly religious. During the journey west, her health declines, and she passes away as the Joads cross the desert into California.
Al is Tom’s younger brother. He greatly looks up to Tom. Al is a skilled mechanic and a prodigious flirt, and towards the end of the novel he becomes engaged to Agnes Wainwright.
Ivy and Sairy Wilson
Ivy and Sairy Wilson are a migrant couple whom the Joads encounter on the road to California. They hospitably help the Joads cope with Grampa’s death. The two families travel together until they reach the California border, where Sairy falls too ill to continue.
Connie is Rose of Sharon’s immature, selfish husband. He grows frustrated during the Joads arduous journey, and abandons the family and his young wife.
Noah is the oldest Joad child. He is aloof and cold; Pa suspects that his strange personality came as a result of Pa mishandling him at birth. Noah abandons the family to live on his own when they reach the Colorado River.
Ruthie isTom’s kid sister. Her immature and boastful nature gets her into trouble when, to impress her peers, she reveals that Tom is on the lam.
Winfield is the youngest Joad. He is often treated cruelly by his sister Ruthie, and he takes every opportunity to tattle on her. Towards the end of the book, he grows very ill.
Floyd is a young man whom befriends in the first Hooverville. Floyd tries to stand up to a contractor but is arrested on a bogus charge, and hides after an altercation with police.
Mr. Thomas hires Tom and the Wallaces to do pipe-laying work. He informs them of the Farmers’ Association’s plans to start a riot at the dance.
Timothy and Wilkie Wallace
Tom meets this father-and-son pair at the government camp. They help find him a job.
Agnes’s family shares a boxcar with the Joads when they live on a cotton plantation. She becomes Al’s fiancée.
The Mayor is a haggard man who runs the first Hooverville the Joads stay in. He has been beaten down by the systematic oppression of the cops and other cruel institutional powers, and can no longer bring himself to resist.
Jim Rawley is the manager of the government camp. He treats the Joads with kindness and caring.
Mrs. Sandry is a Jehovite (Jehova's Witness) zealot from the government camp who terrorizes Rose of Sharon to make her fear sin.
Ezra Huston is the chairman of the government camp committee.
Willie Eaton is the chairman of the government camp’s entertainment committee.
Mae the Waitress and Al the Cook
Mae and Al give a migrant family a special deal on food in their roadside restaurant.
The One-Eyed Junkyard Attendant
The one-eyed man does nothing but complain bitterly about his lonely, pathetic life. Tom urges him to get in control of his life.