Instinctively, people act based upon their own well being, and think about how their decisions and the decisions made around them will affect their life. Their sense of character as an individual comes from their ability to make decisions in response to competing internal and external demands. Throughout The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck displays several examples where the characters are faced with inordinate challenges, and are forced to make decisions intuitively and based on their conflicting surroundings. His primary focus is provoking the audience to understand the importance of being aware of one’s self-preservation and having the ability to sacrifice it to meet personal needs as well of the needs of others. The well being of an individual is either sacrificed or preserved based on the character’s ability to respond to internal and external demands. <br />Jim Casy emanates his collectivist beliefs to the audience through his numerous acts of selflessness and his sacrifice of self-preservation. Throughout The Grapes of Wrath, the significance of putting others first and contributing to society as a whole is portrayed through Jim Casy. “Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.”(p. 33). Because he is the Christ-Figure archetype, the audience is better able to connect his actions with those of selfless, Jesus Christ, who persevered through every obstacle he encountered. He consistently dedicates himself to the Joad family, and continuously reinforces the idea of hope that keeps them going. Jim Casy persevered through the hardships he faced in jail, and managed to come out with the same optimism he began with. Not only was he able to remain true to his values and sacrifice his self-preservation, he was able to share his experience with Tom, and unknowingly inspired him to take on the same attitude and character. “This fella in jail, he says, ‘Anyways, you do what you can, an’ the only thing you got to look at is that is that ever’ time they’s a little step fo’ward, she may slip back a little, but she never slips clear back. An’ you can prove that; it makes the whole thing right’.” (p. 525). Jim Casy’s powerful words remained embedded in Tom’s mind, and eventually were recited to his family to revive Casy’s spirit. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lif' up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up."
(p. 570). Casy’s dedication to sacrificing his personal well-being made him a better person, and allowed him to die without regrets and an impact that would forever stay alive with the Joad family in particular. His response to competing demands not only left him with a sense of dignity wherever he ended up, but left Tom Joad with a new perspective and consideration of his life and the lives around him.<br />The well-being of a character comes directly from their personal values; the relevance of those values, however, is on many occasions challenged in the presence of competing demands. Steinbeck has an exemplary way of portraying the impact of conflicting demands through the endeavors of Rose of Sharon and the way which her responses change as her demands change from the beginning to the end of the book. Rose of Sharon begins in The Grapes of Wrath as the least likeable of the character. Her inflated sense of self-importance and priority of creating her “dream life” is the one and only thought on her mind. Despite the immense amount of stress her family is in and the amount of work they spend trying to make a better life for everyone, Rose of Sharon constantly complains of her insubstantial lifestyle and the terrible inconveniences she experiences. “Me an’ Connie don’t want to live in the country no more, Ma… We wanna live in town.” (p. 224). Rather than providing support to her family when they are faced with the harsh circumstances and demands of their unexpected life change, Rose of Sharon ignores her role in the family and her sense of humility seems non-existent. She preserves herself and her mentality that “…she and Connie are gonna be somepin’.” (p. 290). Once the tides turn, however, Rose of Sharon is forced to snap out of her skewed perception of reality and begin to appreciate and contribute to her true family. Connie, her husband and the father of her unborn child, abandoned her. Not long after, she gives birth to a stillborn baby. Every hope and dream is torn out from underneath her. This series of unfortunate events is what revolutionized Rose of Sharon’s character, and allowed for her to see the importance of sacrificing her self-preservation. When she and her family arrive at the abandoned barn and find a starving man, it is Rose of Sharon who responds to the situation. <br />Read more: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/The-Grapes-of-Wrath-Character-Analysis-Rose-of-Sharon-Joad.id-117,pageNum-126.html#ixzz0W7O4llRY<br />p. 290 wont shut up about connie <br />She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously."
Chapter 30, pg. 619<br />In the presence of competing demands, the self-preservation of an individual is challenged to exist.<br />http://classiclit.about.com/od/grapesofwrathsteinbeck/a/aa_grapesquotes.htm <br />