Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket and bared her breast. "You got to," she said. She squirmed closer and pulled his head close. "There!" she said. "There." Her hand moved behind his head and supported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.

– John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 30. Rose of Sharon is often compared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, because of this final scene of self-sacrifice and act of altruism. After her own loss and hardship, she lies down beside the starving man in the barn, guides his mouth to her breast and breastfeeds him. Despite losing her own baby, she offers life to a total stranger with her breastmilk. Her suckling of the dying man evokes the image of The Pietà, the Christian art work depicting Mary holding the body of Jesus after he is taken down from the cross. In this closing passage, Steinbeck present a message of hope, compassion and kindness, to be found even in a world of inequality and injustice. This is the Promised Land that poor migrant families have arrived at, where new life can come out of tragedy, humanity endures amid hardship and desperation, and each of us is part of the one human family. Rose of Sharon’s gesture is the living expression of Jim Casy’s belief that we are all part of the one great soul.