The Metamorphosis of Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath
Tom Joad from Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath is a prime example of a person whose morals and spiritual growth cannot be restricted by the law or any other limiting factor for long. Throughout the novel he develops from a man only interested in his own independent personal desires and needs to one who is devoted to his family and sacrifices his own personal comfort for the benefit of the family. At the novel's end Tom is continuing Jim Casy's generous work of uniting the poor hand laborers against the rich oppressive landowners who are starving the poor with low wages. Tom's concept of family grows with his work uniting the poor to encompass all of humanity.
Maslow's Humanistic psychological "Hierarchy of Human Needs" can be used to track Tom's personal development. Humanists believe that humans are constantly striving to be the best person that their present conditions allow them to be. The Hierarchy of Needs lists the needs that humans need to satisfy to reach the next level of development. One cannot move to a higher level of development without first satisfying the more basic levels. The first level includes the physiological needs: food water, and sleep. The next level is safety and security, then love and belonging. Next of the list is a healthy self-esteem and finally self-actualization. One who is self actualized has efficient perceptions of reality, autonomy, fellowship with hum ity, strong and loving interpersonal relationships, and is task centered.
At the beginning of the novel Tom has just been paroled from prison serving time for killing a man in a fight. Tom feels he was merely defending himself. He feels no guilt or shame about killing the man and would do it again under the same conditions. Tom's morals allowed him to justify the killing. These morals were instilled in him by his family especially from the strength and love of his mother. Tom is looking forward to "laying one foot down in...