She is the mother of the big family that consists of six children, husband, Grampa, and Granma. We all know the proverb that behind every strong man is a stronger woman that helps him to rise and overcome all bad situations. She is described as a woman of strong desires and beliefs; she has a strong intuition and survival instincts. Ma is strong-minded and resolute. She knows for sure what it takes to be a “citadel of the family” and how to rule it. She is the mother from the capital letter. She is a forceful individual who is determined to keep her family together at nearly any cost. She appears as the healer of all ills, arbiter in family’s arguments, and you know, this ability to perform masterfully during all the tasks grows as the novel progresses.
She is a woman accustomed to hardship and deprivation. Also, she shows kindness to outsiders, even sharing things that the little Joad family has for those who are even less fortunate.
She forces the family to action in the Weedpatch camp. She always tried to keep Pa strong by giving him something to fight against. She is the physical embodiment of Steinbeck's theory of love. All this information is not given to convince you that Ma desires to be the leader. No, but she has to be the one. Looking on the character we see that her role in the book goes deep in traditional feminine traits. She was an example of a real woman and mother. The primary aim of a woman was to keep the family whole. What do we see here? Most of all, she wants her family to be together. Her big desire is to reach the place of destination where they can settle and live a long happy life with no boundaries. In the end, it is Ma who demands they leave the boxcars for higher ground.
Ma Joad in the Essays