What is John Steinbeck’s purpose in writing the essay Symptoms? John Steinbeck: John Steinbeck was an American writer in the 20th century. He was most known for his fiction, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. His most famous work is The Grapes of Wrath.
What is the fifth layer in The Grapes of Wrath? The Grapes of Wrath: The Grapes of Wrath is a novel by John Steinbeck. It is considered to be his most important work and one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
1. John Steinbeck in “Paradox and Dream” addresses what central topic (thesis)?
2. What do you believe he is referring to when he states that Americans are “paradoxical”? Provide examples from his essay.
Paradox and Dream
One of the generalities most often noted about Americans is that we are a restless, a dissatisfied, a searching people. We bridle and buck under failure, and we go mad with dissatisfaction in the face of success. We spend our time searching for security, and hate it when we get it. For the most part we are an intemperate people: we eat too much when we can, drink too much, indulge our senses too much, Even in our so-called virtues we are intemperate: a teetotaler is not content not to drink–he must stop all the drinking in the world; a vegetarian among us would outlaw the eating of meat. We work too hard, and many die under the strain; and then to make up for that we play with a violence as suicidal.
Now there is a set of generalities for you, each one of them canceled out by another generality. Americans seem to live and breathe and function by paradox; but in nothing are we so paradoxical as in our passionate belief in our own myths. We truly believe ourselves to be natural-born mechanics and do-it-yourselfers. We spend our lives in automobiles, yet most of us–a great many of us at least-do not know enough about a car to look in the gas tank when the engine fails. Our lives as we live them would not function without electricity, but it is a rare man or woman who, when the power goes off, knows how to look for a burned-out fuse and replace it. We believe implicitly that we are the heirs of the pioneers; that we have inherited self-sufficiency and the ability to take care of ourselves, particularly in relation to nature. There isn’t a man among us in ten thousand who knows how to butcher a cow or a pig and cut it up for eating, let alone a wild animal. By natural endowment, we are great rifle shots and great hunters–but when hunting season opens there is a slaughter of farm animals and humans by men and women who couldn’t hit a real target if they could see it. Americans treasure the knowledge that they live close to nature, but fewer and fewer farmers feed more and more people; and as soon as we can afford to we eat out of cans, buy microwave dinners, and haunt the delicatessens. Affluence means moving to the suburbs, but the American suburbanite sees, if anything, less of the country than the city apartment dweller with his window boxes and his African violets carefully tended under lights. In no country are more seeds and plants and equipment purchased, and less vegetables and flowers raised.
What do Jody’s dogs signify in The Red Pony? Doubletree Mutt and Smasher in The Red Pony The animals in The Red Pony (1933) correspond to psychological aspects of Jody Tiflin, the novella’s main character. These animals include Jody’s dogs, Doubletree Mutt and Smasher.
Answer to question 1
Answer and Explanation: John Steinbeck wrote the essay “Symptoms” to expose the effect that war has on soldiers. Steinbeck details the emotional problems that accompany soldiers once they return home, such as guilt, denial, and flashbacks.
Answer to question 2
Answer and Explanation: Steinbeck himself said that there were five layers to his book. The fifth layer was “emergence…the step forward taken by humans.” What exactly constitutes emergence in the novel is open to interpretation. One possible scene that could be interpreted as an emergence is Rose of Sharon’s decision to breast feed the dying stranger. This can be seen as an emergence of kindness out of Rose’s despair.
Answer to question 3
The central topic of John Steinbeck addresses in “Paradox and Dream” is about Americans having contradictory qualities. He opines, Americans strive to obtain an American dream, but their own attitude comes in way of fulfilling the American dream or keeping it alive.
In this regard John Steinbeck makes quite a few arguments giving different examples in his essay “Paradox and Dream”
He feels that Americans tend to be a restless, a dissatisfied, a searching people, hence they act excessively going to extremes. Their views are extreme as well as self contradictory. Americans behave inconsistently and act opposite to what they aim for or in other words Americans live by paradox.
He says Americans believe themselves to be natural-born mechanics and do-it-yourself people and spend their lives in automobiles, yet most of them at least-do not know enough about a car to look in the gas tank when the engine fails.
He feels American lives as they live them would not function without electricity, but there are very rare Americans who when the power goes off, know how to look for a burned-out fuse and replace it.
Americans believe that they have inherited self-sufficiency and the ability to take care of ourselves, particularly in relation to nature, but there isn’t a man among Americans who knows how to butcher a cow and cut it up for eating, let alone a wild animal.
Americans treasure the knowledge that they live close to nature, but very few of them are farmers and very few consume farm products. They eat out of cans, buy microwave dinners but fewer and fewer farmers feed more and more people; and as soon as we can afford to we eat out of cans, buy microwave dinners, and hit the delicatessens.
Americans like to consider themselves to be self-reliant, yet they don’t care to possess practical and useful skills.
Americans claim that they are a nation of laws, but they try to break every law they can. Americans proudly insist they vote a man on the basis of issues but they will vote against a man because of his religion, his name, or other trivial reasons.
Americans are inconsistent in many other ways as can be seen in their attitudes toward gender roles, their attitudes toward advertising, their various fears, their views of entertainment, and their views of art.
Answer to question 4
Answer and Explanation: In The Red Pony, Jody’s dogs, Doubletree Mutt and Smasher, signify animal vitality, and nature’s violent and destructive impulses. While Gabilan’s destructive impulse is primarily self-directed, Smasher’s is directed toward the objects around him, such as the coyote he kills. Jody’s own violent impulses are equally evident throughout The Red Pony: He wrestles with and fatally strangles the buzzard that feeds on Gabilan’s carcass, and out of sheer boredom, he shoots down and mutilates a random thrush. Narration of Jody’s impulse-driven acts contrasts with the suggestion of Gitano’s inclination toward violence that his concealed rapier signifies. Dog names signify violent, enigmatic impulses: While Smasher realizes the significance of his name by killing a coyote, “Doubletree Mutt” suggests that he is the unnatural mongrel offspring of violent canine copulation.