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The White Quail and The Murder - Love and Isolation

Uploaded by Galaghard on Sep 24, 2002

Love and Isolation in John Steinbeck’s “The White Quail” and “The Murder”



John Steinbeck is a prolific author. In his writings, he explores the intricacies and enigmas of the human spirit and condition. In the short stories collected in his book, The Long Valley, he poignantly captures the very essence of those not-so-perfect relationships in which many people may relate. Through the theme of love and isolation in his stories “The White Quail,” and “The Murder,” he paints a vivid portrait of what it is like to be part of a lose-win union where one contributes his best and the other takes without positively reciprocating.

To start, consider Steinbeck’s use of love to expatiate on the neuroticism of the respective relationships of “The White Quail’s” Harry and Mary Teller and “The Murder’s” Jim and Jelka Moore. In the former of the stories, such phrases as, “She didn’t think so much, ‘Would this man like such a garden?’ but, ‘Would the garden like such a man?’” and “He wanted to kiss her over and over, and she let him,” act as clear indicators that something in the relationship is quite awry (14-15). For how can one be more concerned about a garden “liking” a person than that person liking that garden? It is true that a garden may symbolize a part of one’s character and life, but should it be a great factor in the determination of the existence of a positively meaningful relationship? Sure, one would like a potential mate to like that which one works hard to maintain (in this case, Mary’s garden), but should one go as far as attributing a kind of human ability of “liking” to plants and making it the deciding factor? More greatly, should one really care whether the other person likes such a thing? It appears that in true, honest and loving relationships that one need not be concerned over such trivialities because if the other person truly loved and cared, then that person would come to love all (including the garden) of the other, without reserve or judgement. Moreover, in regards to “letting” one kiss another, the usage only more greatly exposes the twisted thinking (in this case, Mary’s) present in the construction of the sentence. For one would think that if one loved another, kissing would be mutual and equal, not based on permittance or sanctioning, as connoted by Steinbeck’s ingenious use of...

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Uploaded by:   Galaghard

Date:   09/24/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,610 words)

Views:   4753

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