The Steinbeck Style
Although John Steinbeck is recognized for the themes of his novels, including the struggles of the working class and social injustice, he is also known for his excellent use of the literary elements. In two of his novels, Of Mice and Men and The Pearl, Steinbeck uses different types of tone, diction, and syntax to enhance meaning and strengthen the impact of his message. In Of Mice and Men Steinbeck presents an innocent tone through his character, Lennie, to create meaning in the piece. The tone is brought out through Lennie’s close following of George, which the reader sees when, “he pulled his hat down a little more over his eyes the way George’s hat was,” (page 4 OMM). This gives the reader the idea the Lennie looks up to George as a role model, as a son would to his father. This child-like perception of Lennie is present throughout the whole of the story and pulls out a strong emotional factor that gives the piece meaning at the close.
Steinbeck uses a different tone, one of realization, to enforce meaning in The Pearl. When Kino’s, “brain cleared from its red concentration and he knew the sound -- the keening, moaning, rising hysterical cry from the little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death,” (page 114 TP). The shift in his thought process shows the reader that Kino’s actions were in protection of the pearl, and not his family. This is one of many scenes in the book that signify the engulfing of Kino’s mind in greed. The neglecting of his family gives the reader a sense of disapproval toward Kino and deepens the meaning in the value of the moral that greed is evil.
Steinbeck uses different diction in each of these stories, but it serves a common purpose of helping the reader understand the different characters’ backgrounds and experiences, which increases the meaning of each story. The characters in Of Mice and Men use the unique vernacular of American migrant workers in the 1930s. George uses words...
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