In The Grapes of Wrath, Tom is the hero or at least the main character if hero is too lofty a title for him. He does not like to be pushed around, and does a pretty good job at keeping his more aggressive feelings under control. He helps keep the family going, physically and emotionally, and does his best to keep it together.
When a crowd makes the family turn around on its way to the government camp, Tom gets extremely angry and has a hard time controlling his self (Steinbeck 235). He tries to keep himself under control for the sake of his family, so he turns around. Because Tom really hates being told what to do and where to go, he drives down another street until the crowd passes and then continues on his way (Steinbeck 235). He does what he feels is best for his family and avoids a fight at the same time.
When the car breaks down while the family is driving up a mountain, it is Tom who fixes it (Steinbeck 158). Because he manages to fix the car, the family is able to keep moving west instead of being stuck where the car breaks down. Tom tries to make his mother feel better when he has to go away at the end of the book (Steinbeck 344). He tries to explain what he thinks he is going to do and why, and even though she really does not understand it, him trying to make her feel better helps a little bit. When his mother gets tired, talking to Tom makes her feel a bit better even though the situation has not changed at all, like when a cop tells her she and her family have to leave by the next morning, followed by the news that Noah left (Steinbeck 183). Tom helps to support his mother, and his mother supports the rest of the family. He and his mother keep the entire family from completely falling apart.
Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.