John Steinbeck Short Fiction Analysis
The qualities that most characterize the work of John Steinbeck are a supple narrative style, a versatility of subject matter, and an almost mystical sympathy for the common human being. His fiction is peopled with men and women somehow shoaled from society’s mainstream yet possessed of a vision that is itself a source of strength. His characteristic narrative method is to portray these people with an unerring mixture of realism and romance.
Though the Great Depression is the central social focus of his best work, his characters respond to those social forces not only in terms of realistic confrontation but also in the form of a romantic, intuitive escape. His characters become not so much victims of social or economic failure but celebrants of a life-force beyond society and economics. The best of Steinbeck’s work maintains this tension—developed by a narrative tone—between the world of harsh reality and the world of animal-like freedom. Even in a late novel such as East of Eden, his best books behind him, Steinbeck symbolically construed this duality in the reference to the two mountain ranges that defined the territory of his narrator’s childhood, the “sunny” flowered slopes of the Gabilans to the east and the dark, brooding peaks of the Santa Lucias to the west.
The Pastures of Heaven
Nowhere is this duality—the tension between realism and romance—more evident than in Steinbeck’s earliest...
(The entire section is 1406 words.)
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