John Steinbeck American Literature Analysis
Although Steinbeck’s first novel, Cup of Gold, is not much like his later work in theme, setting, or style, it supplies hints of themes that were to pervade his later work. The book is much influenced stylistically by the medieval legends with which Steinbeck had become familiar during his boyhood. The protagonist of the book, Henry Morgan, is a brigand, a rugged individualist who is as much a nonconformist as Danny is in Tortilla Flat. Those two protagonists, from two drastically different backgrounds, would have understood each other and sympathized with the other’s outlook.
In his second and third books, The Pastures of Heaven and To a God Unknown, Steinbeck discovered the direction that most of his future novels would take. He wrote about the central California agricultural areas in which he had grown up, and, in the latter book, he also experimented with symbolism stimulated by his early reading of medieval literature. The characters in these books are memorable as individuals, but they clearly represent universal types as well.
As promising as The Pastures of Heaven was, it was not a commercial success. The beginning of Steinbeck’s widespread national acceptance came with Tortilla Flat, which might not have been published at all had Covici not read Steinbeck’s two preceding books and been favorably impressed by them. In Tortilla Flat, Steinbeck transplants the...
(The entire section is 5361 words.)
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