Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. English Dept.


Charles Bassett


Throughout the works of John Steinbeck, we encounter a constant struggle between individual characters and their inherent need to belong to a larger group. While these characters attempt to retain their individuality, their surroundings either force them to conform to a group existence or destroy them. Steinbeck calls his theory concerning this group existence of man the "phalanx theory". This theory demonstrates the tacit membership of every human being in a larger group. While Steinbeck is known primarily for his literary works, it is in his biological work, completed with the help of Ed Ricketts, that this theory of group belonging becomes more clearly defined. In his The Sea of Cortez, he explains, in detail, the instinctual bonding together of virtually all organisms for survival. As I will attempt to show in this paper, it is not only the natural world that exhibits this group need, but each of Steinbeck's characters as well.


Full-text access is restricted to Colby College.


individuality, belonging, instinct