In "Flight" by John Steinbeck, over how many days does the story take place?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Day One: Mama Torres scolds Pepe for being lazy and sends him to Monterey on errands, wearing his father's hat and green silk handkerchief, where he will spend the night with a family friend.

Day Two: Pepe suddenly returns home before sunrise and tells his mother that a "man said names to me I could not allow." Mama gives him a rifle, provisions and his dead father's coat. When he flees the murder he has committed by taking to the high mountains, his mama starts the wail of mourning for the dead.

Day Three: He rode his horse high into the mountains and stopped by a small stream where he slept for the night only to be awaken by the whinny of horses. He saddles up, forgets to take his father's hat and flees. In the high wast lands of the Sierra Nevadas, his horse is suddenly shot dead out from under him. He is being shot at. He crawls. He waits. He sees a flash and fires. He is fired upon in return. A chip of granite cut off the rock by the shot gouges his hand. He removes it and stops the bleeding with a spider's web. He sleeps waiting for night to arrive to give him cover.

Day Four: His arm is swollen. He has to remove and forsake his father's coat. He finds a damp but empty stream bed and digs for water then falls asleep. He awakens to a mountain lion watching him. He crawls away when he hears horses and a dog. At dark he crawls farther. He has forgotten his father's rifle. (He is shedding bits of his father as he goes. Symbolically, his father's passage into manhood was never like this; he knew tolerance and patience.)

Day Five: His arm is gangrenous. He lances the wound with a sharp rock to try to drain the gangrene. At the top of the ridge he sees another deep waterless canyon before him. He sleeps under the sun then hears hounds on the chase. He is unable to speak because of swelling. He makes the sign of the cross as a final supplication then stands. Standing tall like the man he might have become, he allows himself to be shot.

This tragic tragedy of Pepe's detour away from manhood covers five horrific days.