John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, The Grapes of Wrath, and “Flight”John Steinbeck, a 20th century novelist, was the recipient of numerous awards including the Nobel Prize. Steinbeck, a conservative that valued the old America, could produce pages of beauty followed by pages of sheer trash writing using specific characteristics, which his work is characterized by. John Steinbeck’s work is characterized by symbolism and allegory, which can be seen in his novels The Pearl, The Grapes of Wrath, and his short story “Flight.”
In his short story, “Flight,” John Steinbeck uses many examples of symbolism, which is one way you can characterize John Steinbecks’ work. Symbolism can be a person, place, or thing used to portray something beyond itself. The most repeatedly used symbol in “Flight” is the color black. In literature many authors use the color black to represent death. In his short story, “Flight,” Steinbeck has numerous examples of color symbolism. A few examples are the black handle on the long blade, Pepe’s black hair, and the black jerky. Another example may be found when Pepe puts on his fathers black coat, which represents death. When Pepe puts on the coat he is literally covering himself with death. Another fine example is the trail in which Pepe travels. Steinbeck describes the path as a well-worn black path. By traveling on this path he is in fact taking the road of death. Furthermore Pepe’s appearance also helps foreshadow the ending. Steinbeck describes him as having a black hat that covers his black thatched hair. Pepe is also described as being dark, lean and tall. Another example is Pepe’s shack. The shack is described as weathered and very old. It casts a rather large shadow to the Northeast. The darkness of the shadow symbolizes death in the home. As we can readily see, the authors use of black symbolism in the story tells us that the main character, Pepe, is impending death (pg. 225).
Another form of symbolism that Steinbeck utilizes, which is also in “Flight,” is nature symbolism. Throughout the story he uses nature to symbolize a variety of things. An example of nature symbolism is water, which is used to represent life. Some examples in the short story “Flight” are Pepes’ water bag that he hung over his horses’ shoulder, which began to leak, symbolizing Pepes’ life leaking away. Another example iswhen Pepe was traveling he start…
…n stole for him, is also clearly an example of Christian symbolism. It resembles what we receive in memory of him (pg. 89).
Allegory, which is more prevalent in the twentieth century, is another way in which Steinbecks’ work can be characterized. Allegory is a work of literature in which people, objects, and events stand for or transcend abstract qualities. With varying degrees of deftness, all of Steinbecks’ major novels juxtapose their biblical sources in an attempt to transcend them. The Pearl and The Grapes of Wrath, which are two of Steinbecks’ major novels, are both allegories. The Pearl is an allegory on the evil of worldly treasures. The language in The Grapes of Wrath that the characters use is associated with Piedmont culture which is one thing that makes this novel an allegory (pg. 18-19).
As you can see John Steinbeck is a great writer. He is great in his use of symbolism and allegory, which gives you a way to characterize his work. If you believe his work should be characterized in any other way you need to check out his novels The Pearl, The Grapes of Wrath, or his short “Flight”. So next time you pick up a book, pick up one of these for a great excitement.