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He was "a kind of mooning boy, greatly beloved and protected by the family." He early discovered that a smiling helplessness was his best protection from work. His brothers were tough hard workers, all of them. It was easier to do Joe's work than to make him do it. His mother and father thought him a poet because he wasn't good at anything else." Because of his helplessness, Liza loved him best. Joe will later go off to Stanford University, like Steinbeck himself, and have a career in advertising in Chicago.

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