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"The Murder" by John Steinbeck essay

John Steinbeck / The Murder / man / woman / love

Essay Topic:

The problem of marital relationship in “The Murder” by John Steinbeck.

Essay Questions:

What is the main conflict of John Steinbeck’s “The Murder”?

How does the image of a man is opposed to the image of a woman?

What is the emotional connection between Jelka and Jim?

Thesis Statement:

The author of the story makes the woman lag behind and blindly obey man’s orders. She fulfills her duties without showing any emotional response to the occurring. It is a story of a married couple where the wife is a “foreigner” to her husband.

 

"The Murder" by John Steinbeck essay

Introduction: Analyzing John Steinbeck’s “The Murder” makes the reader experience fixed feelings. As John Steinbeck himself is known to be an extraordinary writer his story “The Murder” completely confirms this belief. The story mainly deals with the contraposition of the image of a man and the image of a woman. The author of the story makes the woman lag behind and blindly obey man’s orders. She fulfills her duties without showing any emotional response to the occurring. It is a story of a married couple where the wife is a “foreigner” to her husband.

From the very beginning the author reveals the woman as a submissive being and a man as a “ruling one”. This starts with Jim Moore picking a wife not on the basis of emotionally touching relations, true devotion or respect of the girl’s family but on the basis of the appearance of Jelka Sepic: “Jim was not proud of her foreign family, of her many brothers and sisters and cousins, but was delighted in her beauty”[Steinbeck, p.2]. Jelka is presented like a “good” that fits Jim’s demands as a buyer. One of the Jelka’s qualities the author makes an emphasis on her ability to be a brilliant housekeeper and nothing is said about her personality. Jelka serves as a “maid” to her husband. She just learned his habits and he did not do anything really to make an emotional connection with her, as it was all he needed for the first time. For Jim, Jelka is just a “Jugo-Slav girl”[Steinbeck, p.2], a girl from another culture he decided to marry and nothing more than that. He treats her as an inanimate object and this becomes the reason she acts like one, too. Galaghard in his analysis of the story gives an excellent interpretation of the author’s attitude towards Jelka –“She, as Steinbeck puts it, is really so much like an animal. Like a domesticated pet, she trains to do tricks for her master to receive attention, acclaim, and regard”[Galaghard, p.1]. In fact Jim completely suppresses her and sometimes gets irritated with her like with a pet.Galaghard’s interpretation gains a new life in the context of Jim’s further behavior. It reminds a lot of the formation of a conditioned reflex. After Jim finds Jelka in bed with her cousin he just punishes her like a “bad pet” and comes back to normal living because he is just so used to this “pet”. Now the “pet” knows that it will be punished for any “misbehavior”. Jim does not get into the Jelka’s feelings, because there is not need to ask a “pet” about its feelings especially when it keeps “moving its tail”. This story can be hardly called a love story, as it has nothing to do with love. “Difference is not only in love and in the manner of loving, but now also in being human versus subhuman”, - and in this case a subhuman is Jelka [Fensch, p.15].

Conclusion: Jelka is not as weak-willed as the author tries to depict her, she is just doing everything the way it was done by her parents and grandparents. Jim accepts her as a silent housekeeper and does not require more than that from a woman and does not actually do anything to change it except preferring to spend the evenings in another company. Jelka is truly a subhuman; a useful object in the house and no surprise Jim “patted her head and neck under the same impulse that made him stroke a horse”[Steinbeck, p.3]. The author reveals half-hidden anti-feminist thoughts, which make the reader percept Jelka as a mediocrity. In reality men like Jim and Jelka’s father primarily create this mediocrity.

 

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