”With Your Wings” by John Steinbeck

Associated Press “Forgotten John Steinbeck story published after 70 years” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/06/forgotten-john-steinbeck-story-with-your-wings-published-after-70-years

70年間所在が不明だったジョン・スタインベック*1の短篇が発見された。それは”With Your Wings”という黒人パイロットの物語。1944年7月にオーソン・ウェルズ*2のラヂオ番組で朗読されるために書かれたが、朗読がオンエアされた直後から原稿の所在はわからなくなってしまった。ところが最近、ミシガン州Strandという季刊誌*3の編集者Andrew F Gulliがテクサス大学のアーカイヴで原稿を発見し、同誌に掲載することになった。
短篇”With Your Wings”について;

With Your Wings at first reads like a standard narrative of a veteran’s return, a plot used by everyone from Homer to Ernest Hemingway. Second Lieutenant William Thatcher has completed his training and at a farewell ceremony receives silver wings, pinned to his chest. He climbs into his “clattering” Model-A Ford and sets out for an unidentified hometown. He appears to be greeted as a hero, or at least a celebrity, passing “crowded porches” and children “washed and dressed in their best and starchiest clothes, hairs bursting with ribbons”.

“He could hear the rustle as the neighbours moved silently near and formed a half circle behind him,” Steinbeck writes. “It was as though his own people were sitting in judgement on him.”

Thatcher’s sense of obligation is made more clear and powerful when Steinbeck reveals that he is black, at a time the military was segregated. “He took off his cap with the gold eagle on it and held it in his hand. He saw his tall father lick his lips. And then his father said softly, ‘Son, every black man in the world is going to fly with your wings,’” Steinbeck writes.

“His heart was pounding. He could hear a little quiet murmur of voices in front of the house. He knew they were going to sing in a moment. And he knew now what he was to them.”


“Steinbeck was an idealist. He saw America as this wonderful land with so much to offer, but on the flipside he could see inequality, he could see greed and excess destroying the working classes,” Gulli wrote. “This story strikes me as an effort to show middle America that African Americans were carrying on a huge burden in defending the United States and the allies during the war.”