Skill and Craftsmanship in the Works of Steinbeck Essay

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Skill and Craftsmanship in the Works of Steinbeck

Throughout Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony and The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck professes his admiration for the man who displays skill and craftsmanship in his work. A man who does his job exceedingly well is, by extension in Steinbeck's works, a hero who is satisfied in doing his best in affection for his craft - a direct contrast to the multitude of humans who are merely unsuccessful and unhappy dreamers.

The emphasis of skill and craftsmanship is particularly evident in a description of Slim in Of Mice and Men:

He moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even
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The boy Jody idolizes him, but ironically it is through Billy Buck that Jody realizes the fallibility of man. When Jody hesitates to leave his pony outside, Billy promises him it won't rain, and if it does that he would return the pony to the stable. But it does rain, and Billy Buck leaves the pony outside while he seeks shelter for himself. As a result, the pony catches a cold, and once again Billy Buck vainly assures Jody that "he'll be alright in the morning" (23). The pony soon becomes seriously ill, and it is at this point that Jody asks if the pony can be saved. Billy Buck nearly "tosses off a careless assurance, but...saves himself in time"(34).

He tells Jody that even he cannot save the pony , apologizes for his lapse in judgment, and soon after, the pony crawls off to die. Billy Buck is not infallible, but his true heroism is revealed through his ability to realize and compensate for his limitations (French 66).

In this coming-of-age tale, it is Billy Buck who teaches Jody the essential lessons of life. In one incident, Jody inexplicably decides to kill three white mice, an action which he excuses by saying they "don't know what's going to happen to them today" (34). Billy Buck responds "No, nor you, nor me, nor anyone". Jody is startled by the truth of this statement. As he grows into adulthood, he models his understanding and compassion on Billy Buck's work with
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