John Steinbeck

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Themes and Colors
Manhood Theme Icon
Predators and Prey Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Flight, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


The question of Pepé’s manhood defines the story from beginning to end, informing his actions and the way people treat him at every turn. He begins as a lazy and easygoing boy, telling his skeptical mother that he’s become a man now as he ventures out to complete the errands he’s been given. But when he returns home, having killed a man, he begins to understand his mother’s harsh conception of manhood in a more…

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Predators and Prey

While the story opens in a peaceful domestic setting, there are indications from the beginning that “Flight” takes place in wild country. As Pepé travels farther and farther from home, the landscape around him becomes increasingly desolate and deadly, practically making him into a hunted animal himself. Every detail of the situation and the environment suggests that when people venture into the mountains, they’re no longer fully human; they become predators and prey. As Pepé…

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Loss of Innocence

The personality changes that Pepé and his siblings experience during the story are striking because they mark Pepé’s jarring transition from a carefree farm boy to a grown man with blood on his hands—a change that underscores the way hardship and tragedy can force people to quickly come of age. While the shift in Pepé’s demeanor upon returning home is surprising and distressing, it’s explained by the fact that he just killed someone to defend…

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