Books and Movies Reviews

The Snake

A short story by John Steinbeck, "The Snake" depicts the strange encounter between a man, Dr. Phillips, and a mysterious woman who arrives at his laboratory one night. The central theme of the tale revolves around Steinbeck's interpretation of the contrast between men and women. It appears that his idea was: Men represent reason; Women represent nature. In the story we watch as the two opposing sides meet each other in the dark laboratory.
Steinbeck uses thefirst two pages of the story to characterize the differences between the male character and the female. Dr. Phillips is portrayed as being a young man in seemingly good shape, as he is able to "climb up over the rocks", and having "preoccupied eyes of one who looks through the microscope a great deal" Right away Steinbeck illustrates Phillips masculinity by showing his attempt at mastering nature; when the Doctor calmly selects a cat from a cage and kills the animal in the quest of scientific knowledge, he does it because it is reasonable and logical to try and better understand the way that nature works. It stark contrast to the clean cut Dr. Phillips, the woman visitor is shown as "A tall, lean woman… dressed in a severe dark suit-her straight black hair, growing low on a flat forehead, was mussed as though the wind had been blowing it. Her black eyes glittered in the strong light." The description of her hair is very important in that it shows she is allowing nature to affect her as it would naturally, and not trying to be a master over its effects like Phillips when he wore rubber boots and leather coat while out in the tide pool.
Now that the characters have met face to face, Phillips continues about his work while the woman waits patiently for him to finish. The tone of the story begins to change at this point away from a story about the scientific work of Dr. Phillips to a battle between the forces of man

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