Style and Technique

Steinbeck explores the story’s themes using a third-person point of view that focuses on the consciousness of Pepe during his ordeal in the mountains. The author achieves a poetic grace with plain language that is appropriate to the thought processes of his protagonist. Contained in that language is the sharp detail of the physical landscape, which has a beauty of its own. Steinbeck also uses the detail of the physical landscape to suggest Pepe’s inner emotions. For example, in the scene before his death, Pepe sees that “strewn over the hill there were giant outcroppings, and on the top the granite teeth stood out against the sky.” The stark image of the “granite teeth” works to reflect the emotion that Pepe feels; trapped in his fate, he senses powers that will overwhelm and “devour” him. The images of the landscape provide a backdrop for his final act of defiance, of standing up to be shot down.

The dialogue early in the story between Pepe and members of his family is filled with short, declarative statements and the use of “thy” and “thou,” which gives it a stilted quality. By such devices, Steinbeck—rather like Ernest Hemingway in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)—was attempting, unsuccessfully, to convey the archaic dignity of his characters’ speech.

Steinbeck’s technique and style are appropriate to his subject: Pepe’s direct, uncomplicated emotions are presented without authorial comment, being placed directly before the reader with a simple honesty that gives this story both power and poignancy.

Historical Context

California Geography
Steinbeck's "Flight'' is set on the mid-California coast about fifteen miles south of Monterey...

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Literary Style

Narrator and Point of View
"Flight" is told from a third-person point of view. The narrator, the person telling the...

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Compare and Contrast

1930s: Many street gangs that arose during the 1920s in order to take advantage of Prohibition move on to other illegal...

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Topics for Further Study

Based on what Mama Torres says to Pepe in the story, what do you think she believes about his level of maturity at the beginning of the...

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Media Adaptations

"Flight" was adapted as a film by Barnaby Conrad, starring Efram Ramirez and Ester Cortez and produced by Columbia Pictures in 1960.

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What Do I Read Next?

The Red Pony, also by Steinbeck, was first published in 1937 and revised in 1945. It is the story of a boy's...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

Antico, John "A Reading of Steinbeck's 'Flight'," in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol 11, Spring, 1965, pp...

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(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Astro, Richard. John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts: The Shaping of a Novelist. Hemet, Calif.: Western Flyer, 2002.

Benson, Jackson D. The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer. New York: Viking Press, 1984.

French, Warren. John Steinbeck’s Fiction Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1994.

George, Stephen K., ed. John Steinbeck: A Centennial Tribute. New York: Praeger, 2002.

George, Stephen K., ed. The Moral Philosophy of John Steinbeck. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Hayashi, Tetsumaro, ed. A New...

(The entire section is 221 words.)