In The Turtle, Steinbeck realistically describes the dangerous journey of a land turtle across a concrete highway. From the beginning of its journey, the turtle crawls slowly toward the highway and conquers many obstacles, and finally it climbs onto the highway. As the turtle tries to cross the road, it is almost hit by a speeding sedan. And later, a truck swerves to hit the turtle, and it is spun back off the highway, lying on his back. Eventually, the turtle pulls itself over, crawls down the embankment, and continues on its way.
Symbolism repeatedly appears in this essay. First, the turtle is a symbol of the migrant farm workers. Just like the turtle, they are unarmed, working hard on their way, struggling towards a better life. Secondly, in contrast to the small and weak turtle, the truck driver is a symbol of the big powerful business that tries to take advantage of the migrant farm workers. Thirdly, the concrete highway, the red ant, the sedan driver and the truck driver compose a scene full of obstacles. The scene is a symbol of the severe living environment around the migrant farm workers. The migrant farm workers have to encounter all the obstacles and survive in the crucial condition. Fourthly, the journey of the turtle crossing the highway is a symbol of the journey of migrant farm worker moving to the west. It is a long, tedious and dangerous journey. All the symbols Steinbeck uses in this essay play an important role, which makes his theme more expressive and profound.