Having reviewed the picture, one may consider that the image is quite emotional stirring feelings of empathy for the harsh realities of extreme poverty of both those characters in Steinbeck’s book and those depicted in the Lang image. In this case while the picture is entitled “migrant mother” the face has a harsh and almost masculine quality to it. This may be seen as having a high degree of resonance with the plight of Ma Joad in Steinbeck’s work who takes on the role of holding the family together, a role which some may see as having masculine associations in another context.
Other feelings which come from the image relate to the lack of hope and general feeling of a person who has seen “broken promises.” In the context of the book The Grapes of Wrath, this would seem to underline the central message of the story as the protagonists set off to the promised lands of California but come to see broken dreams even before they arrive in the state. These come first from meeting travellers returning along the road and later from the harsh realities of arriving in California itself, a state with an oversupply of labour and little opportunity left.