By Barbara A. Heavilin
Celebrating the short lifetime of a tender pupil devoted to Steinbeck reviews, this assortment gathers essays from quite a few vantage issues together with aesthetic, feminist, moral, and comparative views. integrated during this quantity are works via acclaimed poets, in addition to insightful readings of a bit recognized early brief tale and an unsuccessful novel through Steinbeck.
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Additional resources for A John Steinbeck Reader: Essays in Honor of Stephen K. George
Within an unpredictable world” (6). It is this cacophony of voices—both within and without, past and present—which leads to the initial confusion of readers who have yet to realize that they are following not “what is” (the nonteleological goal of Steinbeck’s early fiction3) but “what is inside,” for Winter, more so than any other Steinbeck work, is an interior novel—an exploration and revelation of the thought processes of a good man who chooses evil. Hence, The Winter of Our Discontent . . is ambiguous not because [Hawley’s] .
Chapter 3 17 In much the same way, Ethan Hawley is persuaded to forsake his principles in order to be a success. Echoing Van Doren’s obvious desire to please his own father, Ethan feels an intense shame as a man, provider, and Hawley for being nothing more than “a goddam cat . . catching Marullo’s mice” (4). His rationalizations for turning his boss over to immigration, robbing Mr. Baker’s bank, and facilitating Danny Taylor’s drinking himself to death are, however, much more ruthless. With the first person narrative allowing direct access to his moral and psychological fragmentation, we see the thought processes of Ethan at work: his analogy of business to war, where you’re a hero for killing (101); his use of natural selection and survival of the fittest to justify murder, for in the end “the eaters [are no] more immoral than the eaten” (46); his decision to view moral principles and behavior with playful new eyes, as a game to be played until the “procedure and equipment and timing were as near perfect as possible” (214); and his underlying shift to a belief that morality is a relative concept—as Ethan puts it, “If the laws of thinking are the laws of things, then morals are relative too, and manners and sin—that’s relative too in a relative universe.
I have considered such questions personally in preparing this essay. m. by my own Charles, a precocious eight-month-old who refused to go back to sleep. I went downstairs with this blue-eyed, glowing little fellow, found a comfortable spot on our futon, and put on Redford’s Quiz Show. I think we often make moral excuses in the dark that we would shrink from in the light; in the early morning hours this movie’s images of corruption and evil were more disturbing that I had ever remembered. Watching another Charles in a game show booth struggle with his conscience brought to my mind several sets of fathers and sons: Van Doran and his father Mark; Steinbeck and his sons Thom and Johnny; Ethan Hawley and a cynical, streetwise Allen; and me with my own boy slumbering on my chest.