What is the tone of John Steinbeck's short story "Flight"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of author John Steinbeck's finest short stories, "Flight" has an absolute feel of desperation throughout most of the suspenseful tale. It is a tale of growth from youth to manhood in just a few short hours for 19 year old Pepe Torres, whose boyish knife-throwing skills turn deadly for him. After killing a man, he must flee into the mountains to avoid capture. His mother knows the flight is useless; she "starts the formal wail of mourning for the dead" as Pepe leaves. Pepe's journey quickly becomes one of life or death, as his horse is shot out from under him and he is forced to crawl into the hills as buzzards circle overhead. Despite his own youthful immaturity, he quickly realizes that death awaits him if captured. The tone is one of dread and fearful realization of the impossible odds that face Pepe.