This can be seen in his symbol of direction as it represented positive and negative effects. This could come from a shadow on a barn or the rising Of the sun, each play a part in Steinbeck symbolic circus. The same is seen in his use of nature in the story. While they may be hard to pick up on, each is important to the story and in conveying Steinbeck individual writing style. The symbol seen most often throughout Flight is the color black. In most cases in literature, the color black is often associated with death and, as the traders would find out later, is true in this story.
The first ‘black token’ comes as Pope’s knife. A theme seen repeatedly in Steinbeck stories is the presence of a past influence that his characters cannot escape; this is particularly true in Flight. Pope’s father is killed before the story begins by falling in the fields on a snake. He passed down his black knife to Epee, which becomes one of his most prized possessions of his as well as a key aspect to the action of the story. Epee is constantly playing with the knife, a sign of his childish characteristics, and has it with him at all times. The knife is first of many black symbols to be seen as the story progresses.
Another example is when Epee puts on his father’s black coat, yet another past possession, which represents death. When he puts it on, he is literally killing himself, or covering himself in death. Later in the tale, Epee runs away in the mountains to escape the men chasing him. The path that he travels on is described as a “well-worn black path”(Steinbeck peg. 8). By taking this road, he is figuratively taking the road of death. Steinbeck uses direction cleverly in the short story to, literally, point the deader in the direction of the conclusion.
It begins with the notion that north and east are ‘good’ or positive directions, often associated with good luck or fair tidings, while west and south directions are seen as bad or misfortune. An example of this is when Epee is seen watching the sunset in the west. This symbolizes his bleak future to come, or the setting Of his life. Height, or the direction up and down, is also seen throughout the short story. For example, Steinbeck describes the tops of the trees in the mountains where Epee is running as ‘X;find bitten and dead”.
This symbolizes that the higher up Epee climbs, the closer to death he becomes. In the stow, there are “dark watchers” who wonder through the mountains. They are mysterious creatures and no one quite understands who they are or what their purpose is. They are believed to be “angels of death” and are seen in the mountains with Epee. “Epee looked up to the top of the next dry withered ridge. He saw a dark form against the sky, a man’s figure standing on top of a rock, and he glanced away quickly not to appear curious.
When a moment later he looked p again, the figure was gone”(Steinbeck peg. 9) Steinbeck uses the dark watchers not to advance the plot, but rather as symbols of everyone’s eventual death, and Pope’s approaching. He places the watchers on the top of the hill, as height is associated with death in this story. Epee spends a majority of the story in the mountains and nature plays a huge role in the plot. In Flight, Steinbeck uses water as a symbol for life. This is seen by Pope’s water bag, which hung over his horses shoulder during the trip.
While the Water leaked away, so did his life. As proof of this theory, later in the story his horse is shot in the same shoulder that the bag previously rested on. Another example of this is seen as Epee travels further into the mountains. In the beginning, Epee stays near the river. But, as time goes on he starts to drift farther and farther away from it. This is symbolism for the life being drained away from him and is seen on page nine as Steinbeck writes, “His throat was almost closed with thirst. At first he tried to run, but immediately he fell and rolled. ” (Steinbeck peg. ) As he moves up the mountain, he is moving closer to his foreseeable death and becoming weaker as well. At one point, after being shot and can no longer stand, he begins to crawl up the mountain face. Here, Steinbeck compares Epee to a snake. While connecting Epee to a creature Of nature, he is also subtlety contain nuking with the pattern of past influences as the snake is what also what killed his father. In order to prepare the reader for the tragic yet thought provoking end to the tale, Steinbeck includes a number of symbols in Might. His symbols can be obvious or hardly noticeable, both are seen in the story.