Rose of Sharon Joad
Petulant and imbued with an inflated sense of self-importance, Rose of Sharon is the least likeable of the characters. A young newly-wed, she and her husband spend the journey to California giggling softly and dreaming of the possibilities of their new life. Her constant concern is that everything that happens to the family is related somehow to her unborn child, a concern that quickly becomes annoying. Despite her mother's interventions, Rose of Sharon (reduced to Rosasharn by her family) draws increasingly into her own self-pity as the family's hardships mount. The bearing of her stillborn child, however, brings about a change in her character. Her breasts are full of life-giving milk and with no child to nourish, Rose of Sharon chooses to reach beyond her own considerations for the first time. She offers her milk to a stranger, a man dying of starvation. With this act, Rose of Sharon comes to represent the full circle of human unity: Despite her own position of need, she is able to give life.