Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Jeffers, Jennifer

Subject Headings

Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968, Queer theory, Steinbeck, Queer theory


This analysis of the works of John Steinbeck will show that Steinbeck's works have more depth and revelation that has been previously discovered. Through application of the concept of queer theory from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, this work will examine the relationships of John Steinbeck's Lennie Small and George Milton and Danny and his friends from the classic novels Of Mice and Men and Tortilla Flat, respectively. This theory states that there is a fine line between what is considered a homosocial behavior and what is homosexual desire. Because Steinbeck's novels and characters are regarded with an almost child-like innocence, many people have chosen to skim past the sexual ambiguities that adumbrate within the text and therefore he has gone mostly unread by critics in the 21st century. Close examination of the interactions between George Milton and Lennie Small and Danny and his friends will reveal the apparent sexual nature of the novels, and a queer reading of the novels Of Mice and Men and Tortilla Flat. This work will demonstrate through examples from Sedgwick's theory that there is indeed a continuum between homosocial and homosexual behavior in Steinbeck's the characters