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Pastures In Heaven Commentary

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The extract in prose from Pastures of Heaven is an ominous description of the setting and the mood as perceived by the main character, Pat, as he seeks comfort after a funeral that had recently taken place in the house. Steinbeck builds tension across the three paragraphs through the contrast of imagery related to life and death and through the character?s reaction to finding himself alone where he thought he might find comfort. Complementing the juxtaposition of life and death, the description evolves from warm to cold, through personification and further contrast of movement and stillness. The change of the atmosphere parallels the development of the character, who after his initial relief and contentment by the fire, finds himself lonely and listening for sounds from those who are now gone. Throughout the passage, onomatopoeia is constantly recurring with the sounds of harsh ?c?s (sounding as k): ?cricked; cracked; creak; crept?. It mimics the sound of floorboards when someone is trying move unnoticed. This parallels Pat?s actions, as he appears to be like a stranger in his own home as he ?walked quickly to his bedroom? and ?crept from his bed?. ...read more.


This symbolizes that Pat?s nerves have gotten the best of him and despite his presence in the kitchen, so near to the fire; it can no longer protect him. The kitchen was normally perceived as the hearth of the home or the center of life in the household due to the fire for cooking being located there and thus, warming the room. The constant diminishing of the fire?s power in correlation with Pat?s rising nerves allows for a steady development of tension as is can be metaphoric of the ?center of life? dying, allowing the figures of the dead and imagination to take over. This emphasizes not only the build in tension, but also the themes of life and death. The juxtaposition of life and death paired with the juxtaposition of movement and stillness also play a large role in building the tension in the extract. Throughout the extract, the non-present figures representing death are described to be much more active than Pat as a living being. The figures are depicted as ?malignant life? and Pat?s imaginings included the sounds of ?rocking chairs? and ?loud breathing of the old people? that are no longer there. ...read more.


It is as though his mind is willing there to be some form of life while his physical being refutes the imaginings of his mind, symbolizing the coming to terms with a death (the questioning, resenting, wishing, and other conflicting emotions). All the while, the pace is continuously increasing until the very end, at the climax of Pat?s conflict where he ?silently and miserably?crept from his bed and locked the door?? out of fear of his imaginings. The very last line Pat ?become(s) very still, and?was lonely? showing that he has come to the revelation of the rising tension. This revelation is a development in his character, where in the beginning of the extract he believed he would be comfortable alone, when in reality he is not content with his newfound solitude. This extract serves to attract readers? attention through the rising tension created by the many forms of contrast and parallels. It includes a rapidly increasing pace that help to affect the shifts in mood, juxtaposition that introduce themes and motifs that contribute to symbolism and parallels. These all help to form the exploration of the character?s process of development, allowing readers to understand his emotions and inner turmoil. Eventually leading to the revelation of the characters discontentment with his newfound solitude. ...read more.

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