The deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon. Already the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains, and the hilltops were rosy in the sun. But by the pool among the mottled sycamores, a pleasant shade had fallen.
A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shallows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.
A far rush of wind sounded and a gust drove through the tops of the trees like a wave. The sycamore leaves turned up their silver sides, the brown, dry leaves on the ground scudded a few feet. And row on row of tiny wind waves flowed up the pool’s green surface.
As quickly as it had come, the wind died, and the clearing was quiet again. The heron stood in the shallows, motionless and waiting. Another little water snake swam up the pool, turning its periscope head from side to side.
1. What does the incident with the heron and the watersnake symbolise?
This is another representation of the ppowerful preying upon the week. It reflects the world of the novel, where the weak are unable to survive the power of those stronger than them. (The mice, the pup, Candy’s dog, Curley’s wife, Lennie.)
2. How does the wind, coming quickly then disappearing, have a metaphorical meaning?
The wind represents a short disruption to the natural world, like the short passage of the novel. Before and after all the events, the world returns to the way it was. The events of the novel have not changed anything in the world.
3. In the opening section, the animals are presented a neutral way – how would you describe their presentation at the novel’s conclusion?
In the final section, the natural world is presented in a more dangerous way, as Steinbeck reinforces his idea that the weak cannot survive in a world that does not care for them.