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John Steinbecks the Murder

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John Steinbecks the Murder

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  • March 2007
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John Steinbeck's "The Murder"

Throughout history, we've been told many stories and heard accounts of women who have been looked upon as their husbands' property and maltreated. Wives and female spouses have been violently abused and even killed in many cases, by their partners. John Steinbeck's "The Murder" encourages readers to react against the horrific abuse some woman face daily. Steinbeck's story shows Jim thinking of and treating Jelka like an animal and an inferior. The narrator and Jim's comparisons of her to an animal are portrayed later in the way she is brutally beaten by Jim in the barn on their farm. The limited omniscient point of view used to tell the story also contributes to the presentation of Jelka being less than human. Steinbeck's story in many ways shows the horrendous actions people take against women, making many readers feel that females are little more than objects of property.

In "The Murder", the narrator and Jim's comparison of Jelka to an animal illustrates dehumanization towards Jelka. As told early in the story "[Jelka] was so much like an animal that sometimes Jim patted her head and neck the same impulse that made him stroke a horse" (Steinbeck 4), this focuses readers on the fact, Jim doesn't draw a fine line between the treatment his wife and animal's receive from him. Jelka's insight is distinguished by the narrator's description of her, "Jelka had eyes as large and questioning as a doe's eyes" (Steinbeck 4). "She whined softly, like a cold puppy" (Steinbeck 9), tells the narrator. And when the "noisy girls of the three star" ask Jim where his wife is, he answers, "home in barn" (Steinbeck 5). The various accounts of animal imagery by Jim and the narrator make Jelka appear, in the words of one critic, "somewhat less than human".

Jim and the narrator show Jelka being brutally beaten by Jim, in a less than humanized way, after Jim find's Jelka in bed with her own cousin. The narrator contrasts the weapon's Jim uses...