In the short story “Flight” by John Steinbeck, the character Pepes ignorance and immaturity lead to his own downfall. In his escape from Monterrey, Pepe makes many mistakes that ultimately lead to his death. Ignorance and immaturity can also be traced to the character Lennie in Steinbecks classic novel Of Mice and Men. Lennie’s mental disability leaves him with the ignorance and immaturity of a child, and he makes a series of mistakes that result in his own demise.
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In “Flight”, Pepe’s ignorance and immaturity are his “fatal flaws”. They cause Pepe to make mistakes that bring about his death. In the beginning of the story, Pepe is described as both gentle and affectionate. His only fault is laziness, and he seems to be a bright and happy boy. Pepe’s mother sends him on an errand to the town of Monterrey to purchase medicine. However, upon his return from Monterrey, Pepe has changed. He has lost all of his innocence and he tells his mother that he killed a man in a bar fight. Pepe tells his mother that he murdered the man because “The man said names [Pepe] could not allow” (33). The fact that Pepe murders a man because of this shows Pepe’s immaturity and impulsiveness. Soon after, Pepe flees into the mountains and begins a journey to evade the band of men seeking revenge for Pepe’s victim. Pepe makes another mistake while he rides his horse through the forest. Pepe becomes ignorant of the situation and rides his horse “Half over in his saddle, dangling one leg loosely” (37). Pepe’s lax attitude allows one of his pursuers to come extremely close to Pepe, and his slip up almost costs him his life. After some time, Pepe’s horse is shot dead by one of the men chasing him, and he has to continue on foot. Pepe engages in a firefight with one of his pursuers, and a piece of granite wounds his arm and hand. Eventually, Pepe exchanges shots in a final stand against his enemies, and he dies by a bullet. Throughout the story, Pepe makes mistakes that could have easily been avoided. Pepe’s ignorant and immature mistakes while on his journey result in his own death.
In John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, Lennie’s ignorance and immaturity lead to mistakes that cost him his life. Lennie’s first mistake comes in the town of Weed. He and his friend George work on a ranch as ranch hands. One day, Lennie makes an impulsive mistake when he grabs a girl’s dress. Lennie claims that he “Jus’ wanted to feel that girl’s dress – jus’ wanted to pet it like it was a mouse” (11). This is a childish and immature action and as a result Lennie and George are chased out of Weed and are left jobless. Lennie and George soon make their way to another ranch near the town of Soledad. The pair work there for some time, and all seems well. They come closer and closer to their dream of buying their own land, when the story takes a dramatic turn. Towards the end of the novel Lennie sits in an empty barn and morosely strokes a puppy that he killed because he pet it too hard. A flirtatious woman only known as Curley’s wife walks in and tries to speak to Lennie. George told Lennie not to speak to Curley’s wife under any circumstances previously, but Lennie forgets George’s advice and talks to her anyway. Curley’s wife learns that Lennie likes soft things, and lets Lennie stroke her hair. Lennie pulls her hair too hard, and Curley’s wife struggles against Lennie’s iron grip. The woman screams and Lennie panics; suddenly he breaks the woman’s neck. Despite George’s advice, Lennie speaks to Curley’s wife, and this highlights his ignorance. The rest of the men find out that Curley’s wife is dead and George realizes that his and Lennie’s dreams have been crushed. It dawns upon George that there is only one solution to the problem and he shoots Lennie in the back of the head, thus killing both Lennie and his dream of owning his own land. Lennie’s immaturity and ignorance result in his own death, drawing a parallel to Pepe in “Flight”.
There are many literary criticisms to be found on both “Flight” and Of Mice and Men. The story of Pepe is generally found to be Steinbeck’s interpretation of the transition from boy to man. The theme of naturalism and realism is evident when Pepe’s transformation from boy to man results in the loss of his own life. The critic Michael Meyer writes “Pepe is relatively immature for his age” (1). This immaturity results in ignorance, both of which result in Pepe’s death. As for Of Mice and Men, Lennie is often considered by many as a character who is doomed even at the beginning of the story. One critic writes “[George and Lennie] are doomed from the start because of Lennieââ‚¬â„¢s fatal flaw” (Hickey, 1). Lennie’s mental disability impairs his judgment, and renders him oblivious and childish. Lennie is an innocent character, but he makes mistakes that are unforgivable. Both Pepe and Lennie are foils, two completely different people that share the same immaturity and ignorance.
Both “Flight” and Of Mice and Men were written by John Steinbeck, who was a renowned American author. Most of Steinbeck’s stories including “Flight” and Of Mice and Men take place in this area. Steinbeck worked on a ranch after dropping out of Stanford University. His ranch experience influenced many of his books including Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck also had a great love for nature, as is evident in “Flight”. Steinbeck’s writing style was characterized by naturalism and realism, and these themes can be found in both Of Mice and Men and “Flight”. Steinbeck includes the characteristics of ignorance and immaturity in his stories as facets of realism. These two aspects are used to make Lennie and Pepe seem more real; they are imperfect characters.
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In conclusion, the elements of ignorance and immaturity play a major part in both “Flight” and Of Mice and Men. These elements can be traced in “Flight” to the character Pepe. Pepe. Ignorance and immaturity can also be traced in Of Mice and Men to the character Lennie. Both of these elements fall under realism, a center point of John Steinbeck’s literary works. Steinbeck’s characterization of Lennie and Pepe and his writing style render both “Flight” and Of Mice and Men profound and classic literary works.
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