Al Joad is Tom Joad's sixteen-year-old brother who likes to "billygoat" and "tomcat" his way around the country (a.k.a. his hormones are raging). He drove a truck for a company the year before, and so he becomes the family mechanic, able to drive cars and fix them, too. He looks up to his older brother, Tom: "Al knew that even he had inspired some admiration among boys of his own age because his brother had killed a man" (8.135). However, living in his big brother's shadow can be a lot of pressure.
Al likes girls a lot (did we mention that?), but he has no intention of getting married anytime soon (he is only sixteen). He promises to marry one girl in Weedpatch, and then eventually gets engaged to another girl who lives in the same abandoned boxcar as he does. As the winter rains flood the land, Al decides to split apart from his family, remaining with his fiancée and her family.