Tom Joad, in the Grapes of Wrath, has been an all American symbol. How horrible we were in the past, and how we have gotten much, MUCH better than that.
However, he's not up to date with the modern ways that poor people really think about their government, as shown to us by the media:
First of all, Tom CAN'T be poor. He has to be a rich man, because that is the only character people want to read about. The speech pattern can stay, because that adds to the allure of the character.
Therefore, I present to you as small snippet of Tom Joad's final monologue, had it been written by a modern, successful author that sold a million copies.
Tom: I been thinking about us, too, about lazy people living like pigs and good rich land layin’ fallow cuz they can't find no people willin to work. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers livin off the dole. And I been wonderin’ if I just stood up, an pulled myself up by my bootstraps…
Ma: Oh, Tommy, they'd just take any money you made and give it to tha folks who don't want to work, then where'd you be?
(Continuation on the flip)
Tom: They’d rob me anyways. Sooner or later they’d smear me for one thing if not for another. Until then…
Ma: Tommy, you’re not aimin’ to be one of them fascists.
Tom: No, Ma, not that. That ain’t it. It’s just, well as long as I’m a rich man anyways… maybe I can do somethin’… maybe I can just find out somethin’, just put together a think tank and maybe find out what it is that’s wrong and see if they ain’t somethin’ that can be done about it. I don’t know enough. But that's more than enough to make up my mind.
Ma: How am I gonna know about ya, Tommy? Why they could say bad things about you and I’d never know?
Tom: Well, maybe it’s like my agent says. A fellow ain’t got a product of his own, just little piece of a big product, the one big product that can be sold to everybody, then…
Ma: Then what, Tom?
Tom: Then it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so lazy bums can steal, I’ll be there to take names. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll have the cop's back. I’ll be in the way guys shout down an opinion they don't like. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re bored and they know it's time for my new fall line up, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they should have paid for and livin’ in the houses that they refuse to pay rent on– I’ll be there, too.
Ma: I don’t understand it, Tom.
Tom: I do ma, it's the American way.