John Steinbeck's View of God

John Steinbeck was born in the Salinas Valley, California, in 1902 and is best known either for The Grapes of Wrath, written in 1939, which sold 400,000 copies in its first year and 50,000 copies every year since in the USA alone, has never been out of-print and is regarded in many USA schools as history, or for East of Eden, written in 1952, undoubtedly his longest and major work (265,000 words), a national best seller, and clearly autobiographical. He died in 1968 but not before he had written some 26 novels and plays, several collections of short stories and numerous newspaper articles, gained the Nobel Prize for literature and established himself as the last of a generation of American writers which included Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

He went to Stamford University but did not fit the system and achieved little. His teachers said he was ‘of average mentality but woefully immature emtionally’.[1] From an early age he wanted to be a writer and many of his classmates thought he would be a preacher. He felt as if he belonged to a community which came from Europe in search of a new world, as reflected in The Grapes of Wrath, and having settled first in the East and then moved to California in search of Eden, East of Eden is his family story. He married three times, the first two marriages breaking down and his third wife surviving him. ‘A good lover but a lousy husband’ was how he described himself.

Apart from stimulating interest in his work among readers unfamiliar with him, the purpose of this study is to explore his understanding of God as revealed in his writings, and to suggest possible avenues for further exploration and research.

His Religious Beliefs

Of his religious beliefs little can be said. His Episcopalian parents introduced him to the Bible and the traditions of the faith from the beginning. His mother, a teacher, read to him from an early age, including Bible stories when he was three! Later, he wrote, ‘Literature was in the air around me. The Bible I absorbed through my skin.’[2]

Hardly surprising, therefore, that his novels are full of bibical imagery and symbolism, but in his early teens he began to question the idea of God and the place of religion.[3] Organised and institutional religion played little part in his life thereafter and he could never be described as ‘a religious man’, though later he was much influenced by writers like Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman and the American Transcendentalists[4] and there is plenty evidence for the presence of God and Christian teaching in his writings for those who are prepared to look outside conventional patterns.

To explore that understanding we have three windows, which cannot be isolated from each other and most of which turn up in nearly everything he wrote, though the emphases vary:

First, overt biblical references, sometimes in titles, sometimes in people and sometimes in content,The Grapes of Wrath[5] andEast of Eden being the two most obvious examples.

Second, underlying though barely below the surface, biblical themes and imagery, like the wilderness, sibling jealousy, water, and theological experiences (if not language) relating to guilt, sin and forgiveness.

Third, the characters he creates and the characters whose company he obviously enjoys tell us something about the values he embraces and are a reflection of the ‘God’ who motivates him.

The Grapes of Wrath, or God in the Community

The story begins in the 1930s, in the dark days of Depression in the mid-West, with 90,000 ‘Oakies’, slaves of the dust bowl. One tractor can do the work of a dozen families.[6] The bank calls the tune. Rumour has it that there is ‘corn in Egypt’, a promised land in Canaan and gold in California. And so we share in the wilderness experience in company with the Joads as they trek out west in search of a new life.

Readers looking to find God in more traditional watering-places, such as church and liturgy, will enjoy the company of Casy the preacher who is going through his own personal wilderness experience.

Casy used to deliver a good sermon. Now he can’t preach any more. Religion is no longer the glue of society. He used to know where to lead the people. Now the shepherd is as lost as the sheep. He used to be ‘different’. Now he is just like everybody else. But therein perhaps lies his strength. ‘God’ has come down from the mountain and become one with his people.

The point is not lost on Tom Joad, first on the run for killing a man (shades of Moses?) and then again later for killing a second, who never took the earlier Casy too seriously but who in his moment of crisis remembers something Casy once said — how he had gone out into the wilderness to find his soul and discovered he didn’t have any soul he could call his own. All he had was a little piece of a great big soul[7]. And a little piece was no good unless it was with the rest and was whole. ‘I know now a fella ain’t no good alone,’ Tom concludes.

Other characters discover the value of the community through a more literal wilderness experience as they trek west, and lest we should miss it Steinbeck spells it out. Turn a man off his land and he is powerless. But let two men squat together of an evening on the highway and  ‘I lost my land’ becomes ‘We lost our land’ — the first step from  “I” to “we”.’[8]  This is Steinbeck on his way from the self-seeking individualism of Babel, through ‘the one and the many’ in Hebrew thought, to the open sacrifical sharing of Pentecost and what we are to undersand by community.[9]

The biblical God of the wilderness is never far away, though never spelt out. Steinbeck mirrors that picture of God in Exodus 16. He comes in our moments of vulnerability, but only at the point of desperation, and even then only with basics: manna and water, bread and wine, roll and soup. Never too soon, never more than is necessary, partially hidden (in a cloud), not appreciated until he has gone (you only see his back!). And his hall mark is not so much what he supplies as his capacity to transform the situation. When he has passed by nothing is the same again. Hunger gives way to sustenance, emptiness to satiation and death to life.[10] Very much as Steinbeck tells it.

Others find in the story a reflection of the God of the Exile, and Tamara Rombold[11] sees a reflection of Lot’s flight from Sodom and Gomorrah and an allusion to the new heaven and the new earth, described by Isaiah, as in the closing pages Rose of Sharon offers her breast to a dying man.

East of Eden, or God in Personal Relationships

East of Eden begins as a tale of sibling rivalry and develops into a commentary on a familiar Old Testament story (Cain and Abel), an interpretation of a particularly difficult text[12], a range of theological questions relating to responsibility for evil (or sin), a God who is at the heart of the human predicament[13] and a message of hope. There are two focal points.

First, the presence of evil in the world. What are we to make of a God who accepts one person and rejects another? Why this man? Why that woman? Why Cain, but not Abel? Why a keeper of sheep but not a tiller of the ground? Why an animal but not a plant?

Steinbeck explores the emotions and the suffering as he searches for explanations through three sets of relationships: first, Adam and Charles, two brothers. On their father’s birthday, Adam gives him an animal and Charles gives him a penknife, a mechanical instrument for harvesting. Adam’s gift had cost him nothing — it was a mongrel pup picked up in the forest. Charles’s knife had three blades and a corkscrew, was pearl-handled, and had taken weeks of savings. His father loved the pup. He never used the knife. How could any father do that? 

History repeats itself in the next generation, with varying twists as Adam’s sons reflect two kinds of character, one content to be part of the world where he is, the other always needing to change it and move on, as there develops a sub-text, which is not very ‘sub’. Cain’s story of rejection is turning out to be everybody’s story. We are all Children of Cain. Abel never had any. We are all human beings caught in a network of relationships: good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate, alienation and rejection, brother against brother, father against son.

But it is in the third pair, Adam and Caleb (father and son), that the question changes. After losing a fortune in a  disastrous business venture, Adam rejects Caleb’s offer of a windfall on the grounds that it is tainted money, adding,

‘I would have been happy if you could have given me — well, what your brother has . . . give me a good life. That would be something I could value.’[14].

Steinbeck’s God is not one who picks and chooses, liking this but not that. Rather he seems to say, ‘I don’t want any of your gifts — I want you’, and in that respect he is not far from the prophets, when pleading for a quality of life, or indeed from Romans 12: 1. In three generations we have covered 2000 years of biblical history.

The second focal point is that difficult text about ‘sin crouching at the door’[15] and if the first issue relates to the presence of evil, the second relates to how we handle it.

The crucial word is timshol— Adam’s last word on his deathbed and virtually the last word of the novel, an understanding of which is absolutely fundamental to an understanding of East of Eden.[16] Kreitzer[17] shows how English translations offer a variety of both words and theological emphasis,[18] how some biblical scholars[19] have handled it and how two film-makers have handled it differently while retaining the same intention.[20]

It mattered so much to Steinbeck that he had a considerable correspondence on the subject with his publisher, Pascal Covici.[21] Before Steinbeck used it Covici claims to have found the translation, ‘Thou mayest’,  in the Manchester version of the Douay-Rheims (1812) translation, based on the Vulgate, which may explain why Knox[22] gets so close to it, but he asked Steinbeck to check it, because he saw it may well be one of the most important mistranslations in the Old Testament. He saw it as the offering of free will. ‘Here’, he wrote, ‘is the individual responsibility and the invention of conscience.’

For Steinbeck this particular translation offers hope. It says that when we feel we have no control over what has gone before, and perhaps not much more over what is happening now, we are always responsible for what we do about it. So the God who transforms the wilderness is also the God who transforms our personal relationships. In both cases his desire is to release us from the burden of fear and guilt and ‘make us to stand up’[23] so that we can share with him in the transformation process. 

To A God Unknown

If The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden intertwine the overt with the underlying, To a God Unknown is more direct, though not necessarily more transparent. Steinbeck went out of his way to dissociate it from ‘the unknown God’ at Athens[24] by insisting on the changed word order. This is ‘a god who was unexplored’ rather than one simply not recognised.[25] 

Joseph Wayne leaves home at the age of 35. There is insufficient to support the family. His father recognises the reality but regrets the decision because although Joseph is not the eldest his father had always thought of him as the one to receive the blessing.

When Joseph arrives in his new land,

‘the endless green halls and aisles and alcoves seemed to have meanings as obscure and promising as the symbols of an ancient religion. Joseph shivered and closed his eyes . . . . as . . . fear came upon him that this land might be the figure of a dream which would dissolve into a dry and dusty morning.’[26]

From here it is but a short step to a sense of awe,[27] the numinous and Otto’s mysterium tremendum,[28] and much of what one finds in the Vedic hymn[29] could be paralleled in the Psalms in the Old Testament. Joseph bends down, pats the earth with his hand and develops a new respect for nature. He forms a friendship with a local Indian, Juanito, and tells him he feels the land is full of ghosts, except that the ghosts are the reality — ‘what lives here is more real than we are’. Juanito explains to him how the dead never go away — the earth is our mother, and everything that lives has life from its mother and goes back to its mother.[30] Here is another world — almost another deity.

In the centre of an open glade is a rock as big as a house — something like an altar. ‘There’s something here,’ says Joseph, ‘. . . I know it . . . This is holy — and this is old. This is ancient — and holy,’[31]

Matters come to a head when he takes his bride home on their wedding night. All goes well until they reach the pass, where the mountain was split and the road blasted out of the hillside. Suddenly Elizabeth is stricken with fear and can’t go on. Her heart keeps missing a beat. The atmosphere is electric. Even the horses sense it.

There is no easy or rational explanation but Joseph suggests that perhaps it has something to do with the wedding night, and that what she is feeling (and fearing) is going ‘through the pass’ to a new life.

‘Yesterday we were married and it was no marriage,’ he says. ‘This is our marriage — through the pass — entering the passage like sperm and egg that have become a single unit of pregnancy. This is a symbol of the undistorted real . . . I want to go through the pass.’[32]

‘I’m afraid, Joseph’, Elizabeth replies. ‘I don’t know why, but I’m terribly afraid . . . I’ll go . . . I’ll have to go, but I’ll be leaving myself behind. I’ll think of myself standing here looking through at the new one who will be on the other side. (pp 67 9).

There are undertones here of Isaac’s blessing and Jacob’s ladder as he leaves the familiar home territory for an unknown world, not very different from the feelings we have when we leave one home for another, one job for another or one phase of life for another, in search of the God of the ‘undistorted real’.[33] The numinous in Steinbeck reflects parts of Genesis[34] and chimes in with many of our emotions in similar circumstances, and Paul’s need to die to the old in order to enter into the new[35] may all bring us closer to God than the idols of Athens.

One cannot help but wonder if Elizabeth ever did what she said she would do. Or if Paul in the years of imprisonment ever went back in his imagination to see that man who stumbled on the Damascus Road and look again ‘at the new one . . . on the other side’. Yet this is what Steinbeck seems to be encouraging us to do, and the discovery (if we make it) is not only of ourselves, but also of our God and perhaps of Steinbeck’s God as well. 

Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat, or God in People

This window is more straightforward. Timmerman[36] warns against trying to extrapolate Steinbeck’s view of God by analysing his characters, but the characters he creates and the way he tells the story leave us in no doubt as to the sort of people who matter to him, what events in their lives he deems important, and why. So though it would be wrong to imagine that his characters are simply a reflection of his beliefs, it may not be wide of the mark to suggest that through those characters we may catch more than a glimpse of him, his faith and his God, and possibly even notice change as he interacts with them.

Steinbeck describes Cannery Row, the waterfront in Monterey, California, as ‘a poem, a stink, a grating noise . . . a nostalgia, a dream . . . tin and iron and rust . . . weedy lots . . .  sardine canneries . . . restaurants and whore houses’.[37] One man described its inhabitants as ‘whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches’, by which, Steinbeck adds, he meant ‘everybody’, adding that had he looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men’ and he would have meant the same thing.

Tortilla Flat is more difficult to locate. Many of the locals still deny that it ever existed, but Sue Gregory[38], who wrote two poems about the paisanos  living in shanties on a ‘flat’ up above Monterey, introduced Steinbeck to them. They were people with a dignity and a humour that Sue found inspiring — a bit like the people in Cannery Row — and they no doubt reminded Steinbeck of some of the Mexicans, Chinese and other unskilled immigrants he had rubbed shoulders with on a summer job to earn college fees.

They provided the basis for Tortilla Flat, as did the first group for Cannery Row, and as he described them the stories sprang not so much from imagination as from personal experience.[39]

Steinbeck was repelled and fascinated by them. On the one hand, they were essentially ‘animal’ rather than human beings and therefore hardly characters for literature. All that mattered was food, drink, shelter, sex and status. Rarely did anything in their lives survive for more than one night.[40] On the other hand, in a world dominated by Sunday Schools and a shallow respectibility, these illiterate, colourful characters struck a blow for honesty and concern for one’s neighbour. He could deny neither an affinity with them nor an admiration for their recklessness.[41]

Biblical imagery may not immediately spring to mind but Franziska Bark’s[42] comments on Numbers 33: 1, 16-23 may help us to the God whom Steinbeck is groping after. She says of the slaves that ‘they removed . . . pitched . . . journeyed . . . pitched. . . . went. . . pitched. . . removed. . . (and) encamped. . .’ but in the Torah they never arrive. Deuteronomy stops on the threshold. Fulfilment must wait till Joshua. The promise of Canaan (Exodus 6) may be what gets them going and what defines both the goal and the direction, and the significance of the wandering cannot be seen without it, but the arrival is not the sole aim and purpose and even to see the wandering as a means to an end would be misleading. This, she maintains, is one of the fundamental differences between the Torah and the Christian tradition, implicit in the Christian Bible, which thinks in terms of climax and telos.

These Steinbeck characters, similarly,  are invariably motivated by some plan, dream or objective, but they also rarely arrive, and even when they do it is only, and always, after considerable wandering. The telos is only ever part of the story. This is not so much a God who gets you to places as one who relates to you on the way, even if it is on the way to nowhere. He is the God of the Fathers, who promised, ‘I will be with you’[43] and his very name signifies the closeness of his relationship to his people in their struggle.[44]

The man who saw this most clearly was Steinbeck’s close friend, Ed Ricketts. Ricketts understood the tension in the poor people who wanted to escape from their lot but whose mindset prevented them from doing so:   ‘ . . . the thin red line between his own animal and human nature.’[45] Steinbeck grew into it through him. His favourite characters, perhaps even Steinbeck himself, were slaves seeking freedom. Ricketts ‘appears’ in Cannery Row  (as Doc) and inIn Dubious Battle (as  Doc Burton). In both cases he is a shepherd and the rest are his flock. In Cannery Row he is almost a local deity,[46] not powerful, but wiser and more Christlike than those around him and it is he who enables Steinbeck to see the value of those who can feel no value in themselves.

All these people, taken together, are an affirmation of life and its source, engaged in a series of transformations and redemptions, with Doc at the centre — unjudgemental, accepting, understanding of human frailty, and fatalistic in response to pain — and everyone knows it.[47]

The Pastures of Heaven

Having caught a glimpse of Steinbeck’s God in the characters of Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat we can adjust the lens and clarify the picture when we come to The Pastures of Heaven, a collection of short stories about society’s rejects, people who don’t fit the system, who challenge the accepted, push the moral code to the limits, or feel ‘haunted’ or ‘in chains to the past’, and all from one valley just outside Moneterey, described by the Spanish corporal who discovered it as ‘the green pastures of Heaven to which our Lord leadeth us’, and by others as ‘Eden — with a Serpent’ on account of Battle Farm which stood empty for five years and was thought to have a curse on it because anyone who tried to live there met with disaster, which at times overflowed to others in the Valley.

Some of these choice characters tell us a lot about the people Steinbeck believed to be made ‘in the image of God’ though he does not use the phrase. Tularecito, for example, who according to one teacher should be locked up, who according to another has a helpful effect on more rebellious pupils, who is described by his adoptive father as ‘a little brother of Jesus’, and who finishes up in an asylum, but whom Streinbeck describes as ‘one of those whom God has not quite finished.’[48]

Alongside are the Monroes, ever sensitive to human need, who assume Robbie’s rejection of school and his refusal to ‘fit the mould’ is because he comes from a poor family and rally round with their largesse, only to discover that their charity makes Robbie actually know what it is to feel poor for the first time, so that he and his father have to leave the valley altogether.  

Guilt, confession and forgiveness are scarcely below the surface in Maria and Rosa Lopez. In Molly Morgan and Pat Humbert we encounter the after-life and the power of those who have gone before to influence and control, and the impact of death on Raymond Banks which produces the feeling of being involved, even though only watching an execution, has the power to change the way we encounter the crucifixion every Easter. The collection ends with the bus ride we all dream of — the Valley as the place we all want to go, even those who claim to know there is no future in it.


After travelling round America in the early 60s to collect material for Travels with Charley he felt rather like Isaiah: ‘what he saw in his time,’ he wrote, ‘was not unlike what I have seen, but he was shored up by a hard and durable prophecy that nothing could disturb. We have no prophecy now, nor any prophets.’[49] His favourite symbol of himself was a drawing of ‘Pigasus’, the flying pig, often accompanied by the phrase, Ad Astra per alia Porci (‘to the stars on the wings of a pig’), explained on one occasion as ‘a lumbering soul but trying to fly’ and on another as ‘not enough wingspread but plenty of intention.’[50]


[1]        Thomas Kiernan, The Intricate Music, p 52,Little, Brown & Co, Boston and Toronto, 1979

[2]        Kiernan, op. cit., pp 10, 14.

[3]        Kiernan, op. cit., p 24.

[4]        Kiernan, op. cit., p 138.

[5]        ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge’, (Ezekiel 18:2). Cf Deut 32: 32 and Num 13: 23.

[6]        The Grapes of Wrath, p 124, Pan Books, 1975.

[7]        Pascal Covici, Jr (in an unpublished piece held at Stanford University) traces this directly to transcendal optimism and Emerson’s doctrine of ‘self-reliance’, which underlies several other Steinbeck characters, notably Danny and his friends in Tortilla Flat and Mac, Doc and the boys in Cannery Row.

[8]        The Grapes of Wrath, pp 161-2.

[9]        Chapter 14 especially.

[10]       Walter Brueggemann, The Land, pp 28ff, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1977.

[11]       ‘Biblical Inversion in The Grapes of Wrath’, in College Literature, vol xiv, no 2, Spring 1987, West Chester University, Pa 19383.

[12]       Genesis 4: 7. According to Kreitzer, Brueggemann (Genesis, pp 58-9, John Knox Press, Atlanta, 1982,  quoted in Larry J Kreitzer, The Old Testament in Fiction and Film, p 94, Sheffield Academic Press, 1994) is one of few biblical commentators to suggest we would do well to consider Steinbeck’s handling of the theme as a way of entering the text’.

[13]       For a study of the way in which each of us searches for, and finally creates, a god-head to satisfy our personal needs as part of a deep yearning to know the nature of the One who sent us into the vale of tears beyond Eden, and how the various characters in the story respond to that yearning, see Lester Jay Marks, Thematic Design in the Novels of John Steinbeck, chapter 3, The Mouton Co, The Hague, Netherlands, 1969, and reprinted as ‘East of Eden: “Thou Mayest”’, in Steinbeck Quarterly, 4, pp 3-18. 

[14]       East of Eden, p 600, Mandarin Paperback, 1995.

[15]       Gen 4: 7: ‘If you do well will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it’ (AV/KJV). Kreitzer (op. cit., p 102) describes this verse as ‘an exegetical minefield’ in a longer story which itself is by no means without problems.

[16]       W French (20th Century American Literature, p 559, Macmillan, 1980, (quoted in Kreitzer, op. cit., p 117) describes the whole novel as ‘a laboured fictional pursuit of the Hebrew word timshol’.

[17]       Op. cit., pp 103-4.

[18]       AV (thou shalt rule over him) and NEB (you will be mastered by it) suggest prophecy; NASB, NRSV and NIV (you must master it) and JB (which you must master) suggest command; GNB (you can be his master) offers encouragement, Moffatt (you ought to master it) pious hope, and Knox (thou canst have thy way with him) the possibility of a new opening.

[19]       Kreitizer quotes von Rad, Genesis (OTL), p 105, SCM, London, 1972,  Speiser, Genesis (AB), p 29, Doubleday, New York, 1964,  Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, p 212, Magnes, Jerusalem, 1961,  Castellino, ‘Genesis IV 7’, in VT 10 (1960), p 445, to mention only a few.

[20]       Kreitzer (op.cit, 110-16) compares the handling of timshol in Elia Kazan’s film (1955) and Harvey Hart’s TV Mini Series (1981) and concludes that the latter gets closer to the original Steinbeck. Kazan, in fact, makes no mention of timshol or the incident with Lee but adds a deathbed scene which amounts to much the same thing, in which Caleb reminds his father of an earlier conversation when he had said, ‘You can make of yourself anything you want, it’s up to you. A man has a choice, that’s where he’s different from an animal.’ At the time Caleb had rejected the idea, but as his father dies he says, ‘I tried to believe . . . that I couldn’t help it, but that’s not so. A man has a choice. You used to say that was where he differed from an animal. You see. I remember! ’

Harvey Hart, on the other hand, has Lee utter the word (timshol) over the coffin of the dead Samuel Hamilton and when Adam asks him about it Lee introduces this third translation, ‘Thou mayest’, adding that after conferring with four Chinese scholars and a learned rabbi and using his day off to study Hebrew, all six had come to the conclusion after two whole years that ‘Thou mayest’ was a legitimate translation. It marks the gift of free will in a single word. ‘It may be the single most important word in the history of the world, because it gives man the right to choose between good and evil, between right and wrong.’

[21]       Journey of a Novel, p 127

[22]       See note 19 above.

[23]       The literal meaning of anastasiV (usually translated ‘resurrection’) in classical Greek. ‘Awaken us’ would be an alternative translation.

[24]       Acts 17: 23.

[25]       ‘This is taken from the Vedic hymns and I want no confusion with the unknown God of St Paul’, he wrote. (Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten (eds), John Steinbeck. A Life in Letters, pp 67-69, Minerva edition, 1994).

[26]       To A God Unknown, p 6, Mandarin Paperback, 1995.

[27]       ‘My father is in that tree,’ he says on one occasion (op. cit., p 23).

[28]       Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy, pp 12ff, OUP, 1926.

[29]       To A God Unknown,  in the Prelims.

[30]       To A God Unknown,  p 24.

[31]       To A God Unknown,  pp 39-40.

[32]       And he said in his mind, ‘Christ in his little time on the nails carried within his body all the suffering that ever was, and in him it was undistorted.’(p 68).

[33]       Genesis 27-28.

[34]       Genesis 12: 1 and 18: 1 (the oaks of Mamre and Moreh), Genesis 28: 22 (this stone), Genesis 14: 7 (En-mishpat suggests a spring).

[35]       Romans 7: 9, Galatians 2: 19.

[36]       John H Timmerman, ‘John Steinbeck’s Use of the Bible: A Descriptive Bibliography of the Critical Tradition’, in Steinbeck Quarterly (Winter-Spring 1988), p 24.

[37]       Cannery Row, p 1.

[38]       Kiernan, op. cit., p 177.

[39]       Kiernan, op. cit., pp 44-45.

[40]       Steinbeck & Wallsten (eds), op. cit., p 97.

[41]       Kiernan, op. cit., pp 42-43.

[42]       ‘Time and the Torah’. in Judaism vol 49, no 3 (issue 195, summer 2000) pp 259-68.

[43]       Exodus 3: 12.

[44]       It also reflects the tension in Steinbeck when he distinguishes teleological thinking, which starts from what ‘should be’ in terms of an end pattern whilst often ignoring the fact that in reality things are often very different, and non-teleological thinking, which begins with things as they are. (‘“Is” Thinking’ and “Living Into”’, chapter 15, in Pascal Covici,Jr (ed),The Portable Steinbeck, pp 481-503, especially pp 485, 489, Penguin Books, 1976).

[45]       Kiernan, op. cit., pp 159-61.

[46]       Peter Lisca, The Wide World of John Steinbeck, p 213, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick,

[47]       Jackson J Benson, ‘John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row: A Re-consideration’, in Western American Literature, vol xii, no 1, 1977, pp 11-40.

[48]       The Pastures of Heaven, in Pascal Covici, Jr (ed), The Portable Steinbeck, p 78.

[49]       Steinbeck & Wallsten (eds), op. cit., p 703.

[50]       Steinbeck & Wallsten (eds), op. cit., p 296.

Copyright  Alec Gilmore      2007                                       Site Map                                                  Contact Me