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Allegory of Manhood
The short story “Flight” by John Steinbeck is about a boy’s tragic journey into manhood. The main character, Pepe Torres, is a young mestizo boy sent by his mother to Monterey to get medicine and salt for his family. Being the man of the house after his father’s death, Pepe proudly follows his mother’s instructions. While on his journey, Pepe unexpectedly kills a man. Pepe then sets off on his path to become a man. John Steinbeck utilizes different forms of symbolism to reveal the true meaning of his story. Through the use of conventional symbols, Steinbeck demonstrates Pepe’s concept of manhood. One example of a conventional symbol is the knife which Pepe inherited from his father (426) that Steinbeck uses to indicate Pepe’s desire to be a man like his father. A second example of a conventional symbol used by the author is Pepe’s desire to wear his father’s hat on his trip to Monterey, which “gave him dignity and age” (428). Lastly, Pepe “mounted his father’s saddle” (428) on the horse he takes with him to Monterey, leading him to believe that he is taking on the task of providing for his family, as his father once did. Pepe believes that by possessing his father’s belongings, he is, indeed, his father’s son. When Pepe enters the wilderness, Steinbeck proceeds to use natural symbols to define Pepe’s manhood. An example of a natural symbol that we find in the story is “a big spotted wildcat” (438) that Pepe notices coming out of the bushes, which Pepe avoids shooting to prevent any noise that may lead the posse to his whereabouts but the wildcat “fearlessly walked back into the gulch” (438) demonstrating that the wildcat did not feel threatened by Pepe. Another example Steinbeck uses is the rattlesnake that Pepe sees when he was crawling through the woods in the direction of the ridge peak and “he backed up and took another way” (441), once again, exhibiting the fear of child. A third example is the encounter that Pepe has...
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