Abstract

With the American psychologist Erich Fromm's humanistic ethics as a point of reference, this article analyzes The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), John Steinbeck's final work of fiction. This novel focuses on protagonist Ethan Allen Hawley as he succumbs to the influence of corrupt social values and thereby fails to actualize his primary potentiality for goodness. At the novel's end, however, as he is on the verge of suicide, he thinks about the innocence of his daughter, Ellen, and experiences an epiphany of light that leads to a realization of love for self and others. Overcoming his sense of alienation from the good, he embarks on a course of active freedom that will enable him to go on with his life. Steinbeck's exquisite depiction of Ethan's moral development reflects his own ethical concerns about the well-being of his beloved America.

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