Tom Joad is a fictional character from John Steinbeck‘s The Grapes of Wrath portrayed by Henry Fonda in John Ford‘s film adaption.

The novel narrates the story of Tom Joad and his family as they travel from Oklahoma to California in the midst of the Great Depression.

The book begins as Tom Joad returns from prison to his family’s farm. His family is forced to leave the farm as a result of the economic turmoil caused by an environmental catastrophe. Tom breaks his parole and chooses to help his family. All through the novel Tom defends a humanistic point of view, breaking civil law or choosing to stand against broader economic mechanisms to follow more humane and universal principles of morality and justice.

In popular culture

Tom Joad has long been an icon of social injustice and protest movements. Woody Guthrie used his name for a song title. Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and named an album after the song. Springsteen’s song has been covered by Rage Against the Machine, including a performance by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist) at the Rock Hall of Fame concert in 2009, and Jose Gonzalez‘s group, Junip.

excerpted from Wikipedia

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