Flight by John Steinbeck Characters

Character Analysis

Pepe Torres

Nineteen-year-old Pepe Torres is the main character in "Flight." He is tall, thin, gangly, and lives on the family farm with his widowed mother and a younger brother and sister. While his mother believes that he is "fine and brave," there is no indication that he is anything but lazy. He is very skilled in throwing his father's switchblade, however, and wants to prove that he is a man.

In Monterey, Pepe gets drunk and knifes a man who quarrels with him. He tries to explain to his mother how much of a man he is now, but refuses to accept full responsibility for his actions. He even claims that, at one point, "[T]he knife—it went almost by itself." Pepe then flees to the mountains, taking only his father's coat, rifle, and a few provisions. In his flight, he loses the hat, the provisions, the rifle, and his horse—everything he needs to survive. Such carelessness shows how much Pepe still has to learn about being a responsible adult.

With no skills to aid him and with an infected hand becoming gangrenous, Pepe becomes exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and is reduced to crawling away from his pursuers like an animal. His parched mouth can no longer form words. In his degradation, he is able to stand up—like a man—to his pursuers, and face his death.

(The entire section is 228 words.)

Other Characters

Mama
See Mrs. Torres

Papa
See Mr. Torres

Mrs. Rodriguez
Mrs. Rodriguez lives in Monterey and is a friend of the Torres family. Although she does not appear in the story, it is at her home that Pepe becomes drunk and stabs the drunken stranger. Her home is the only location of social gathering in the story.

Mr. Torres
Mr. Torres is Pepe's father who, ten years prior to the time of the story, died when he tripped over a stone and fell on a rattlesnake. The switchblade Pepe now owns was inherited from his father. Although the story says nothing about the father other than his manner of death, his presence is constantly felt.

Mrs. Torres
Mrs. Torres is Pepe's widowed mother. She lives on the family's seaside farm with her two sons and her daughter and is determined to maintain her home without the help of a man. She keeps the two younger children home from school so they can fish and bring in food for the family. She believes that Pepe is "fine and brave," though there is little evidence to substantiate her opinion. In fact, she constantly tells Pepe how lazy he is, and says that he is foolish when he asserts that he is a man.

When Pepe returns from an errand in Monterey and tells his mother he must flee, she helps him pack, admitting that she had been worried about his quick reflexes...

(The entire section is 279 words.)