Steinbeck - "To a God Unknown"
"To a God Unknown" is a "poetic" novel written by the American author John Steinbeck.
The main theme is the relationship between man and nature: Joseph Wayne deeply loves his land, and refuses to abandon it, even when the hopes of saving it are reduced to the light; to his brother who invited him to follow him to a more hospitable area, Joseph replied: "This is my land, and I have the task of defending it."
This novel should serve us in the twenty-first century, to appreciate more the beauty that the world puts at our disposal, and to understand how much villainy it is necessary to call together to decide to destroy this beauty with our own hands.
From the stylistic point of view, the prose of the novel is masterly: the descriptive passages have a poignant beauty, the characters are well structured and the protagonist is unforgettable, almost messianic.
PlotJoseph Wayne is a young farmer from Vermont, who leaves for the green and flourishing California, where he wants to settle down to start a new life.
Arriving at his destination, Joseph immediately felt a deep, almost mystical bond with his new land, which embraces with all his senses, and that swears to himself to protect, as if it were a beautiful woman ("It's mine, and I must take care of it. "). A few days after his arrival in California, Joseph Wayne receives a letter from Vermont, with which his brothers inform him of his father's disappearance. The dismay of Joseph, however, is exhausted within a few moments; in fact, he soon convinced himself that the spirit of the parent now resides in an imposing oak, on the side of which he decides to erect his own farm.
Joseph will soon be acquainted with Juanito, a young man of Indian origin, who will be a loyal and sincere friend for the entire story.
One day, riding along with Juanito, Joseph arrives in a lush and silent clearing, in the center of which stands a huge and mysterious rock covered with a generous layer of moss, which partly hides a frontal cavity from which a small stream flows . The visit to the clearing shakes the soul of Joseph, who perceives a strange atmosphere in that place, an undefinable feeling.
Joseph is joined by the brothers who, following his example, will settle in the green valleys of California; in addition to the peasant brothers comes the beautiful Elizabeth, a young girl as simple as refined.
Joseph falls in love and manages to marry her after a short and awkward courtship.
Returning home after the wedding, Elizabeth and Joseph are joined on horseback by Juanito, who confesses to the young spouse that he involuntarily wounded Benjy, Joseph's brother, to death, having surprised him intimately with his wife, but not recognized him, in the darkness , like his friend's brother. Joseph's reaction is anything but frivolous: he decides to protect Juanito, making the act of crime appear as a tragic fatality.
Nothing is more important than its link with nature; he is led to relate his brother's death with this bond: as he will later explain, having dead people to cry creates an indissoluble bond with the place where they are buried.
This is only the first of a series of cruel trials that life has in store for Joseph, evidence that will slowly lead him to realize that the bond with his land represents the very meaning of his existence.