The Dialectics of ‘Depravity’ in Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat

Mohammed Mahameed, Majed Abdul Karim


The aim of this paper is to investigate the dialectics of depravity in John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Fla.t Critics have long debated the technicalities by which Steinbeck conveys the thematic issues associated with his literary works. In Tortilla Flat in particular, there are various stories that do not have a common theme or argument. Readers, we expect an argument that holds the action and centers it on the characters, the setting, and theme. This paper reveals that the issue of depravity and deprivation found in found in Tortilla Flat cannot be easily judged despite the astonishing unity which is as much thematic as structural. The characters are portrayed as innocents, primitives, irresponsible, tender, and brutal at the same time. Loneliness, idealism, and the negative attitude to property denote a love of freedom and a carefree existence that distinguish his characters. Eventually, readers would be fully justified in treating this aspect of characterization as a very realistic and insightful study of an extremely important facet of human psychology. Nevertheless, Steinbeck strives to expose an innate goodness and a deep sensation of humanity within his “depraved” and “deprived” characters. The possibility of interpreting the whole work in several ways as we could be deceived by the ending of Tortilla Flat.


Technicalities, Characterization, Depravity, Deprivation, Circumstances, Goodness

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