In his classic short story, "Flight," John Steinbeck uses
many examples of symbolism to foreshadow the conclusion.
Symbolism can be a person, place or thing, used to portray
something beyond itself. Steinbeck uses colors, direction,
and nature symbolism to help presage Pepé's tragic death.
The most repeatedly used symbol in "Flight," is the color
black. In literature many authors use black to represent
death. There are numerous examples of this color in the
story. Some of these include the black handle on the long
blade, Pepé's black hair and the black jerky. Another
example is when Pepé puts on his father's black coat, he is
literally covering himself with death. Another fine example
is the trail in which Pepé travels. Steinbeck describes the
path as a well-worn black path. By traveling on this path
he is in fact taking the road of death. Furthermore Pepé's
appearance also helps foreshadow the ending. Steinbeck
describes him as having a black hat that covers his black
thatched hair. Pepé is also described as being dark, lean
and tall. Another example is Pepé's shack. The shack is
described as weathered and very old. It casts a rather
large shadow to the North east. The darkness of the shadow
symbolizes death in the home. As we can readily see, the
author's use of black symbolizes, Pepé's impending death.
Another commonly used symbol in the story "Flight," is
direction. Direction is used to represent positive or
negative effects. North and East are generally "good"
directions. Many people feel this came about because the
sun rises in the East. On the other hand, the directions
South and West are generally "bad" directions. Basically
this is because the sun sets in the West.
In addition to compass directions, height is also a very
popular way of foreshadowing the conclusion of the story.
The direction up, which is the way to heaven, is generally
"good," while down, the direction of hell, is considered to
be "bad." An example of this form of symbolism can be found
when Pepé is returning home. Pepé looks at his "weathered
little shack" and notices the shadow. The shadow is heading
in the direction North East. Even though the directions
North and East are "good," the fact that the shadow is
there turns them "bad." This means that evil is winning
over goodness. In whichever direction Pepé turns, he will
fall encounter evil. Another fine example is when Pepé
watches the sun set in the West. The sun, which is the
bringer of all life is moving towards evil. That means it
will be dark out and Pepé's death is eminent. Steinbeck
further uses this symbolism while describing the tops of
the trees on the mountain. The tops of the trees were
wind-bitten and dead. This symbolizes that the further Pepé
travels up the mountain the closer he is to his inevitable
Throughout the story Steinbeck emphasizes nature symbolism.
Nature symbolism includes a variety of things. One very
popular symbol is water. Because of the fact that we, as
humans, require water in order to live, water represents
life. An example of this in the story "Flight," would be
Pepé's water bag that he hung over his horse's shoulder.
The water leaked onto the horse's shoulder. This meant
Pepé's life was actually leaking away. It just so happened
that when the horse was shot it was in the same shoulder.
The most obvious example of nature symbolism would be when
Pepé is traveling up the mountain. When he first starts out
he is traveling very close to the river. As he continues
with his journey, the path in which he travels has the
tendency to turn more and more away from the river. In
reality this means Pepé is moving further away from life
and closer to his inevitable death.
These are just a couple of situations in the story "Flight"
that help the reader catch a glimpse of the ending of the
story. As we can clearly see, John Steinbeck has used many
techniques and examples of symbolism to help portray the
ending of the short story, "Flight." Some of these examples
include colors, direction, and nature. The color black,
which is the universal symbol of death, is used to help
foreshadow Pepé's inevitable death. Direction is used
frequently in the story to symbolize the direction that
Pepé is heading; if he is heading towards good or evil.
Nature, especially water, is another form of symbolism that
Steinbeck utilizes. Water equals life. Therefore when Pepé
moves further and further away from the river, he is
actually moving closer to his death. The author's use of
symbolims throughout the story prepares the reader for
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