Steinbeck criticising society in Breakfast by Jo

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Steinbeck criticising society in “Breakfast” by John SteinbeckSteinbeck criticising society in “Breakfast” by John Steinbeck

The story “Breakfast” by John Steinbeck is a description of a warm experience he had had. The story also has indirectly criticized society.

The writer was fascinated by their simple living. Their high spirits, simple airs, their satisfaction and hospitality, all had an element of beauty in them which put an everlasting impression on the writer’s mind. The deep impression it made was also because the writer was cognizant of the bitter fact that people in the modern society are not so simple and hospitable. There are now one in thousands who freely admits to his house and offer food and entertain. The family in the story was of kind and generous nature, and by their benevolent disposition promotes social intercourse and adds to the pleasure of their fellowmen. The family was poor and was not easily provided with bread and butter but their poverty had not made their morally declined. They thanked God for whatever blessings they had. Though hospitality is a virtue that can be practised with magnificence only by the rich, yet is also found in a simple and untainted form among the poor, who show an amazing willingness to share their scanty pittances with others who at the time happen to be less fortunate than themselves. The poor people in the story, who shared their loaf of bread with another, stand as an example of truest and most unselfish hospitality. The writer criticizes the society as the virtue of hospitality is practised more sparingly, and the spirit it engenders is less frequently found.

The writer has artistically narrated the purity in their life by realizing that contentment depends more on character than on the amount of one’s possessions. The family in the tale was happily constituted who were by nature endowed with a contented frame of mind. They had no complaints for their meager resources or for the unfavourable conditions that prevailed at that time. People nowadays, go on complaining against the Government policies and the prevailing circumstances. They do not try themselves to make things better unlike the family in the story who worked hard instead of wasting time and energy in blaming the conditions.

Real happiness does not depend upon wealth and comforts of life. Money and prosperity are not the only guarantee for a happy and contented life. These simplicities urged the writer to recall the genial meeting again and again. He thought with a notion of delight, “But there was some element of great beauty there that makes the rush of warmth when I think of it.”

Thus the beauty lied in their simple yet appealing character which had dragged the writer’s feelings and its lovely recollections were treasured by the writer for a life time.

Such beauty and contentment is rare to find. As it is said, “Give one a particular amount of wealth that one has set his mind upon, and one will some still richer man to envy, and be as discontented as ever.” The possibility of remaining discontented in spite of success and prosperity arises from the insatiable nature of one’s desires, and the common tendency always to long for something better than one’s present condition. What is out of our reach seems valuable till we get it, and when possessed loses its value, so that it is natural for us to be always dissatisfied. This is unfortunately the character of most men.

People are no more cheerful. They have become pessimistic towards life. Cheerful people like those in the story are always more disposed to be happy than to be miserable. They look at the bright side of the things, and thus often derive pleasure from circumstances which would depress the spirits of an ordinary man. People in the present society get easily exhausted and keep on blaming their fate. Cheerfulness prevents him for being so. This truth is well expressed by the homely words of the Shakespearian song that tells us how “A merry heart goes all the day, the sad tires in a mile.”

Thus by criticizing the society indirectly the writer has conveyed a message to mend ourselves: to be bountiful and hospitable, contented and along with that work hard to improve the standard of living.

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