Analysing the Political Role of Social Institutions in Breakfast by John Steinbeck
Author(s) : Muhammad Saleem
This paper investigates the ideology or the mindset that operates behind the practices of social institutions in Steinbeck’s short fiction Breakfast. Steinbeck’s political poetics suggests that ideologies are always a manmade phenomenon but they are, universalised, legitimised and naturalised through social agencies, social organizations and social institutions. In the story under analysis, he describes the role of religion, family, traditions, sacrifice and rural simplicity that let the present oppressive system go on. These social agencies first routinise the exploitative ideological practices and then interpellate the social subjects to accept the common experiences as natural phenomenon. Being a political writer, he produces some gaps in the ruling ideologies. The readers are astonished to observe these irregularities in the text that the hegemonic hierarchies try to smooth over. He is an expert artist in using the philosophy of dialectics in his art. The dynamic conflicts in a piece of literature have a lot weightage to enlist the reader. Consequently, the reader sees through the ideologised face of social realities and makes up his mind to wage a war, in his own way, against the hierarchical hegemonies that justify the oppression and exploitation of the weak by the authorised. Althusser’s concept of ideologies that he presented in his essay Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses is selected to inform the study as a theoretical framework.