carried over in some instances t0 certain of his novels, particularly
In Dubioas Battle and The Grapes of Wrath. These ecological ideas
were considered t0 possess relationship with some of Wheeler’s
Laws of Human Nature.
Steinbeck’s conception of the “unit animal,” although somewhat
fanciful, appeared t0 have relationship with the “collective or group
mind” theory 0f LeBon, and t0 the explaination of crowd behavior by
McDougall and Brown.
The two most important sociological novels of Steinbeck, In
Duhious Battle and The Grapes of Wrath were compared with the
psychological concepts of ].F. Brown. The latter?s theory of social
psychology accepts the conclusions of organismic and field theory
psychology, and applies the results of Lewin’s topological psychol
ogy to the description of the social field. Brown’s concepts were
considered to offer a logical explanation for many of Steinbeck’s
ideas about economic depression, industrial conflict, family relation
ships, and individual personality.
]ohn Steinbeck evidences a decided liking to depict characters
of varying degrees of abnormality. This continues from his earliest
writings to his latest. Although the characters are not studied as case
histories with inquiry into causes and treatments, the author indi
cates that he understands the psychological behavior underlying
the portrayals. In some instances the behavior appears explainable
in terms of both Freudian and field theoiy psychology.
Finally, the results of the study add weight to the conviction
that ]ohn Steinbeck is a careful planner of his work. Much of this
planning can be attributed to his scientific background.
To date, there have been few critical studies made of ]ohn
Steinbeck. The conclusions of the study should aid in the formation
of a clearer picture of the author. The psychological concepts identi
fied with his writings should help in an understanding of many of
the characters and situations in his books.
The sociologists agree that there are social classes in American
society. Material prosperity seems to be the crucial source of value
in American society, but this has different manifestations in the
social class systems. The sociological studies were also used for
information about the sources of values of youngsters.
Dos Passos’ fiction reveals that he portrays the family as the
origin of values, but these can be negative or positive, depending
upon the kind of parental love the child experiences. The concept
of community does not emerge in his fiction; he dramatizes society
as an important influence on his youthful characters, but the in
fluence of a particular segment of society is harmful. School and

is a chief source of values. 1961.” but also as they indicate his artistic vision and method—as they are esthetically resolved in his novels. in the role of Steinbeck’s constant hero. though with unequal emphasis. is actually the symbolic manifestation of the artist in the act of creation. outside the group is another kind of individual. but this religion blends with the most important source of values for his young characters—nature. “A Study of Thematic Continuity in the Novels of ]ohn Steinbeck. the very mystery of life spurs his search for human values. nevertheless. Since most critical work on Steinbeck has tended to stress his wide variety of techniques and subject matter. but both the school and the community—when under the domination of teleological characters—harm. Director: David Owen. man the animal. however. religious. And the artist. Steinbecl<’s fiction reveals that he sees the family as a locus of values. throughout Steinbeck’s novels. society is a constant threat to the youngsters. Religion.” Finally in the thematic scheme is the “non teleological” concept that man lives without knowledge of the cause of his existence but that. observes and comments upon the “animal. are important sources. exists in his fiction." Syracuse University. The father. rather than help. These themes have been considered not only as they embody Steinbeck’s social. analogous to the biologist himself. and scientific “ideas. In Hemingway’s fiction. who. and rational man in . The first of these patterns indicates that man is a religious creature and that each man creates a god-head to satisfy his par ticular religious need. 1961 Marks. Books and na ture. and nature is the strongest. the present study becomes particularly important in illustrating how a system of ideas exists beneath the surface diversities. who attempts to perceive order and value in the complex and perhaps chaotic activities of the human animal. This dissertation is concerned with the thematic design of the novels of ]ohn Steinbeck. not the family. Lester]. The second pattern suggests that mankind may also be viewed biologically. chil dren.church fail as sources of moral and spiritual values. distinct from any one of its parts. Steinbeck has in the same way taken his separate ideas—— man’s religious propensity. For example. However. the biologist—hero of Steinbeck’s novels. not church. These ideas may be seen as three thematic patterns that recur consistently. as a “group animal" composed of individuals (“cells”) but having a will and intelligence of its own.

function. In ideology Steinbeck’s biological naturalism is the key to his thought. “The Biological Naturalism of]ohn Steinbeck.. characterization. and plot Steinbeck’s biological naturalism has made strong inroads. and In three structural relationships. The most important conclusion to be drawn from Steinbeck’s biological naturalism is the limitation it places upon his art. It limits his definition of man largely to a plane of sensation. are placed in jeopardy. most of man’s faculties. These seeds. recurrent symbols. theme. recurrent symbols. Horace P. a marine biologist. Stanford. 1961. however.non—rational nature~—and has resolved them through his creative experience. For it was the friendship of Ricketts and the intellectual stimulus of his profession that helped Steinbeck to develop his biological view of life and it is important to note that the period of its strongest influence on Steinbeck’s fiction curiously coincides with the time of Steinbeck’s friendship with Ricketts. In three structural relationships. 1961 Taylor. The biological influence on Steinbeck’s plots is best seen in his nature vignettes or animal fables which appear to relate human activity to the natural processes of the universe in an ecological fashion. and the explanation of man’s history. lan guage. Director: Donald E. . by confining man severely. and purpose. 1930-1948. Furthermore. the source of Steinbeck’s value judgments. remained largely dormant until Steinbeck’s meeting with the late Edward F. psychological nuances. and structure. Thus. In four distinct ways this biological naturalism can be shown to motivate Steinbeck’s fiction: in ideology. ]r. Steinbeck’s major themes owe much to his naturalism as do his recurrent symbols. seem largely to be absent in the determination of Steinbeck’s characters. The seeds of Steinbeck’s biological naturalism were sown in his childhood in his romantic sense of wonder over the panorama of nature and germinated in his teens with his many—sided' outdoors life and omnivorous reading.” Louisiana State University. Biological naturalism plays an im portant role in Steinbeck’s handling of character in its confining his people largely to a plane of sensation. Steinbeck effectively reduces the significance of man’s greatest achievements. the usual character-developing tool of most novelists. who became not only Steinbeck°s closest friend but also the greatest single influence on his fiction. if not taken from him or else ignored. it is the indicator of man’s nature. Perhaps the strongest linguistic evidence of the role biological naturalism plays in Steinbeck’s work lies in his use of analogy which is almost always biological in reference. relating man to animal activities. theme. Ricketts.

one critic con demns Steinbeck for his sentimentalism while another praises Stein beck for his sympathy or compassion. The basic procedure involves an examination of the symbolism in Steinbeck’s early fiction and of the development of that symbolism throughout his writing. The purpose of the present study is to demonstrate the under lying unity in Steinbeck’s fiction. In relatively few instances does a critic attempt to be veiy specific as to what he means by the terms “sentimentalism” and “compassion” or what specific de tails of plot. To a God Unknown. is preoccupied with certain basic themes which inform all ofhis fiction. Lawrence in Fantasrkz of the Unconscious and in much of Lawrence’s fiction. . jr.’ The University ofKansas. 1966. “]ohn Steinbeck: The Symbolic F amily. setting. That is. and by briefly out. Director: Edward Grier. Steinbeck’s biological naturalism largely rules out any effective code of morals or ethics for man that would restrict his instinctive life. Yet sentimentalism is one of the most common charges against Steinbeck’s fiction. and is often considered to be its chief fault. 1966 Wallis. Finally. for only desire and need are normally permitted in Steinbeck’s naturalistic ethic. Chapter I defines and classifies Steinbecks basic symbolic pattem. ’ Chapter II_reveals that Steinbecks symbolic family embodies ideas remarkably similar to the ideas expressed by D.’ lining their significant reappearance throughout Steinbecks fiction. H. Prentiss B. Indeed. The primary material for this study consists of Steinbeck’s ’ novels and short stories. Steinbeck seems to regard civilization as more harmful than beneficial to man since it generally circumscribes man’s biological fulfillment by limiting his adapt ability. Director: William Handy.. and so forth seem to him sentimental or compassionate. characterization. Such an analysis demonstrates how Steinbeck. This initial chapter introduces the symbolic family by examining the prototypes which appear in the early novel.” The University ofTexas. Two of the most common assertions made about the fiction of ]ohn Steinbeck are that it (1) suffers from sentimentalism and (2) is strengthened by its author’s compassion.technology. this pattem consists of a grouping of char acters which is referred to as a symbolic family. in using the same basic symbolic motifs. 1966. “Human Emotion and the Early Novels of ]ohn Steinbeck. and civilization.

symbolizing the struggle of the individual and of mankind to attain psycho logical. however. more natural instincts. ’ For it is with this setting that Steinbeck most vividly portrays mans mystical bond with his fellow man and with the universe. Thus the study ends with the demonstration of how the last family in Steinbeck’s fiction recapitulates the symbolic struggles of the preceding families. is concerned that modem man emphasizes too much the spiritual and the intellectual at the ex pense of deeper. The next four chapters demonstrate how Steinbeck incamates extremes of temperament and behavior into a symbolic group and how the struggle for family survival gives rise to many significant values. illustrating how Steinbeck’s urban protagonist struggles to preserve the unity of his symbolic family in a com mercial America which has lost contact with the values of its tradi tion. Chapter VII discusses how Steinbeck’s new emphasis upon naturalistic determinism affects the symbolic pattern of In Dubious Battle and Of M ice and Men. His weakest fiction. It is apparent that Steinbeck’s symbolic family rarely receives effective presentation when he abandons the American Western landscape. as well as Lawrence. Chapter XV. Only when he uses the tide pool as informing metaphor in Cannery Row does he approach the effectiveness of his previous fiction. Steinbeck. but it is concerned with using Lawrence’s parallel ideas to elucidate the basic ideas involved in Steinbeck’s symbolism. his symbolism becomes clumsy and obtrusive. and social sanity. analyzes The Winter of Our Discontent. In spite of his stylistic decline.This discussion of Lawrence does not assert his influence upon Steinbeck. the final chapter. As a result. the same basic motifs appear in the family. as all attempt to achieve unity not only . This analysis reveals that even though Steinbeck’s philosophy is modified by his new scientific conceptions. The remaining chapters are largely concerned with Steinbeck’s search for new settings in which to portray his basic ideas. Chapter VIII de scribes how Steinbeck incorporates all of his previous themes into the symbolic ]oad family in The Grapes of Wrath. The tensions within the families continue to have universal significance. presents symbolic families in settings which are not suited to his purposes. This chapter also discusses Steinbeck’s return to transcendental optimism and how he intertwines this transcendental theme with his new scientific preoccupations. his basic values remain unchanged and receive basically the same symbolic expression as in the preceding novels. such as The Moon is Down and Burning Bright. spiritual.

Steinbeck criticism has centered around his preoccupation with biology as Edmund Wilson began to point out in 1940. Director: William Mulder. the study reveals that there is no critical consensus—or near consensus—concerning the general quality of Steinbeck’s art. While it is true that such critics as Lewis Cannet. approximately equal in numbers and caliber. joseph Heniy ]ackson. while still others are seen to vary in their reactions as they pass from one aspect or example to another. This dissertation attempts to show that whatever shifts _and changes might be noticed in Steinbeck’s writings the predominant feature . with the universe. Director: E. Few Steinbeck critics are found to ever be neutral in their attitude toward any given feature of his work. Steinbeck’s writings cover a period of four decades comprising The Great Depression.’ Osmania University. his critics are shown to nearly always divide into two opposing groups. one of which is favorable in its estimate while the other is not. 1968. He has dealt with various contemporary problems—social.among themselves but also with the larger family of mankind and with the universe. R. the Second World War. Some of these critics are found to either consistently approve or consistently disapprove of Steinbeck’s work in general. no thorough study ofhis works from this point of view has been made. regarding any given aspect or example of his fiction. and Samuel Levenson have treated the compassion of Steinbeck as a continuous and unifying element in his works. VV. Leo Gurko. it has confined itself to Steinbeck’s departure from his earlier interests and the gradual decline of his literaiy merit. 1967 Smith. econo mic and political. “The Element of Compassion in the Works of]°ohn Steinbeck. _He has been identified with the Communists and the Fascists in the past. 1967. 1968 Satyanarayana. M. India. Tedlock. “The Decline in ]ohn Steinbeck’s Critical Reputation Since World War II: An Analysis and Evaluation of Recent Critical Practices with a Suggested Revision] University of New Mexico. however. As the major result of the foregoing. Lately. Donald Boone. and the years after it. ]r. and in recent days dismissed as a bourgeois. Moreover.

At the heart of all his writings there is a concern and compassion for man. however. The Winter of Our Discontent—in helping (1) to depict characters and interpersonal relationships. have begun to show that setting and animals function metaphorically to develop themes and to delineate complex characters.” “The White Quail. 1969. His works of the Thirties are given special attention in this survey. and the lonely. and animal tropes function artistically in a number of short stories and novels—“The Chrysanthemums. Of Mice and M eri. The many scenic vignettes and the recurrent references to animals and animal figures in Steinbeck’s fiction prompted early critics to argue that Steinbeck was more concerned about portraying the local flora and fauna than he was about creating human situa tions and credible characters. The sixth chapter deals with the two novels East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent which are based entirely on the moral point of view. Director: ]ames L. (3) to intensify the emotional impact of a situation. The fifth chapter treats Steinbeck’s theories of the group-man and the non-teleological point of view. in The Log From the Sea of Cortez. The fourth chapter surveys almost all the novels and short stories of Steinbeck from the point of view of the recurring theme of dream and dis enchantment.” “Saint Katy the Virgin. Recent critics. The concluding chapter de scribes Steinbeck’s rediscovery of America and Americans. his dis tress over violence and racial hatred. Yet he does not despair of man.is the element of compassion that dominates his works.’ University of Nebraska. and his concern for the lack of ethical values. The Grapes of Wrath.” “Flight. ani mals. the deluded innocent. The Pastures of Heaven and The Long Valley are discussed here with special reference to the author’s treatment of the mentally retarded. The Pearl.” “The Snake. and their rela tion to the subject of compassion. Roberts.” The Red Pony. A textual study of Steinbeck’s fiction reveals that setting. This chapter further describes how during the Second World War and the years immediately following Steinbeck gradu ally moved away from his non-teleological point of view towards a moral point of view and how the emphasis shifts from the group man to the individual. and (4) to con . 1969 Bleeker. After tracing the springs of compassion in Steinbeck’s early youth in the first chapter. Cannery Row. Steinbeck takes stock of his literary theory and practice. Cary “Setting and Animal Tropes in the Fiction of]ohn Steinbeck. as it were. the dissertation examines in the next two chapters his concern for the unhappy men and women of rural Califomia. (2) to develop themes and sub-motifs.

Recurrent animal images tie the materials together. setting intensifies the emotional impact of certain situations but at the same time modulates the effect so that the response is somewhere between sentiment and hysteria. nu merous animal tropes show that even though man is driven to an animal existence he never stops struggling to regain his human dignity. and thoughts. setting and animal tropes help unify Steinbeck’s fiction. isolation. A snake in Dr. yet the momentum of the flowing river implies that the ]oads will persevere. and atmospheric conditions as “objective correlatives” to display the characters’ emotions. too. Setting and animal activities also assist in developing and sus taining themes. white and yellow flowers externalize her desire for supernal fruition. Physical features often form a natural framework for the action. And the ubiquitous dust and predatory movements of domestic animals in The Grapes of Wrath symbolize the end of the family sized farm in Oklahoma. Then. Phillips’ laboratory serves as a vehicle to demonstrate his own irrational self. Steinbeck’s narrator. seldom enters the minds of the characters. Animal metaphors and analogues are also used to enlarge rather than to diminish man’s dimensions. the narrator uses the commensal unit found in sea-life as a natural framework in which he can celebrate the virtues and nobility of men who live close to nature. unlike Henry ]ames’. In The Grapes of Wrath. animals. and the symmetrical arrangement of scenic details in The Pearl and Of Mice and Men gives them the rhythmic quality of a symphony. Natural events foreshadow comparable activities on the human level. Finally. and sterility of Elisa Allan’s world. The spring landscape and the birth of Black Demon in The Red Pony underline ]ody’s birth into reality. moods. . and thus the emotional reaction is one of triumph. The disas trous flood in The Grapes of Wrath underscores the desperate plight of the Okies.tribute toward the aesthetic unity of Steinbeck’s fiction. And periodic allusions to changes in seasons in The Winter of Our Discontent objectify ’ the moral transformation going on within Ethan Hawleys mind. The fog in “The Ch1ysanthemums” mirrors the tedium. He used plants. And in Cannery Row. The death of Candy’s dog punctuates the theme of loneliness in Of M ice and Men. and the large.

Australia. Canada. Both Astro and Hayashi have edited the proceedings entitled S teinbeck: The Man and His Work. even further interest has been generated. England. Recent Steinbeck Studies in the United States Tetsumaro Hayashi The literary reputation of john Steinbeck. Malaysia.S. It is privileged to have Warren French. and joseph F ontenrose have continued to enlighten serious Steinbeck students. Simmonds (England). Such leading critics as Peter Lisca. Korea. is now reaching nineteen coun tries. The Society sends its publication to twenty-three U. especially since his death in 1968. Lisca’s The Wide World ofjohn Steinbeck (1958) was instrumental in initiating this movement.S. and others as active members. and others.A. The john Steinbeck Society has been publishing the Steinbeck Quarterly since 1968 and recently initiated the Steinbeck Monograph Series under Hayashi’s editorship. Richard Astro. The Steinbeck Quarterly. an examination of Steinbeck’s use of setting and animal tropes demonstrates that by these devices he integrates and deepens the meanings in several of his most successful works. It not only has such prominent Steinbeck scholars as Peter Lisca. joseph Fontenrose. India. The Steinbeck Quarterly. author and editor of several books on Steinbeck and related . japan. Since May 1969. and Rumania) and forty-one states.S.I. one of the leading scholars in American litera ture. the four-year—old journal of the Society.— sponsored libraries abroad and nine Ball State University European Centers as its guest institutions. which was published by Oregon State University Press early in The original Steinbeck Society was created in 1966 by Preston Beyer and Hayashi and grew to be a 53-member society by 1969. when the Uni versity of Connecticut sponsored the first Steinbeck Conference based on the theme of The Grapes of Wrath and its impact on the 1930s. has discovered promising young scholars such as Richard Astro. has begun to rise steadily. who has recently joined the editorial staff of the Steinbeck Quarterly as Assistant Editor.. successfully directed the 1970 Steinbeck Con ference at Oregon State University. published under the joint sponsorship of Bal] State University and the john Steinbeck Society. Robert DeMott. john Ditsky (Canada). the 1962 Nobel Prize winner. The Society has many other reasons to be proud of its accom plishments. Warren French.Thus. but has as contributing members such noted Steinbeck collectors as Preston Beyer and Roy S. By june 1971 it listed more than 260 members in nine countries (U.

book collectors. including his short stories and articles originally published in vari. and students.H. poets. Bantam. (3) an en. American Literature. . The institutional memberships in clude most of the outstanding university and public libraries at home and abroad.. and others. his reputation has begun to rise in recent years. etc. or Random House editions. While the most recent trends in Steinbeck studies in the United States are rather difficult to assess. Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. In my direct contact with them I have observed the following trends: (1) a conscious effort to treat more specific and narrower subjects in Steinbeck research. Lawrence. D. and Twen tieth Century Literature now have a sense of aesthetic distance. Hemingway. and The Winter of Our Discontent and America and Americans. as President of the Society and Senior Editorial Advisor. his image of man.3 (8) a belated critical interest in Ed Ricketts. college professors. (5) an attempt to collect Steinbecks unpublished manuscripts and letters by Robert DeMott and Lester Marks of Ohio University. an advantage which enables them to reassess accurately Steinbeck’s philosophy of life. Its members include representatives of all walks of life such as librarians. Serious scholars who are contributing to the Steinbeck Quarterly and other journals such as PMLA. as Editor of the Steinbeck Quar terly and Director of the john Steinbeck Society. government officials.’ ous magazines and newspapers.’ thusiastic research on films and filmscripts based on Steinbecks work} (4) a steady ef`fort to explore Steinbeck’s minor works.2 (6) a serious interest in another com parative study between two works such as a comparison between The Grapes of Wrath and In Dubious Battle.subjects. Steinbeck’s “artistic conscience. jackson Benson. (7) projects to write biographies of Steinbeck by such scholars as Richard Astro. and his artistic contribution to American literature. high school teachers. (2) a growing interest in comparative studies between Steinbeck and other authors such as Faulkner. lawyers. book sellers. The following book-length studies may serve as a basic guide to Steinbeck’s major works in either Viking. journalists.” whose influence upon Steinbeck has long been recog nized but not yet fully assessed. (9) a recent interest in source studies of Steinbeck’s fiction. business executives. and finally (10) a special interest in Steinbeck’s political views on the war in Viet Nam. Modern Fiction Studies. I am in a position to recognize some of the significant directions in which Steinbeck critics are currently moving. Although Steinbeck has long suffered from both unkind criti cism and equally undeserving neglect from academic circles.

I. I should like to share with you wise advice Warren French has issued: “One ofthe primaiy duties ofthe []ohn Steinbeck] Society is to add new dimensions to our understanding of ]ohn Steinbeck by encouraging the study of the distinction be.S.1In February. 1971. who helped Don Wrye do a short film on Steinbeck for the U. yet ultimately related importance of both. are com piling an edition 0fSteinbeck’s correspondence. is completing a film for Lee Mendelson Productions to be called “Fo1ty Years of American Life as Seen in the Works of john Steinbeck. San jose State College sponsored the Steinbeck Film Festival with Martha Cox as Director and Peter Lisca as Consultant. both of Ohio University.” which will be a television special. To conclude. 2Robert DeMott and Lester Marks. 3Richard Astro of Oregon State University and jackson Benson of San Diego State College are preparing full-length biographies ofSteinbeck.d tween these two Steinbecks [the involved journalist and the e tached artist] and reaflirming in the two distinct areas of American cultural studies and fictional aesthetics the separate.S.. In addition Professor Lisca.” .