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Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature



Major Advisor

Thomas Hillard, Ph.D.


This thesis uses theories of the pastoral to examine John Steinbeck’s early novel To a God Unknown. In addition to close textual analysis, this thesis researches Steinbeck’s outside influences while writing the novel and argues that naturalist Ed Ricketts and mythologist Joseph Campbell played a strong role in developing Steinbeck’s thematic interest in mythology and ecology.

With a new understanding of Steinbeck’s influences and his use of the pastoral, this thesis closely examines the character of Juanito as a figure who unites both ecology and mythology in the novel. Through a close reading of the interaction between Joseph Wayne and Juanito, the thesis demonstrates both the direct influence of Ricketts and Campbell on Steinbeck, and Steinbeck’s own environmental philosophy at work in the novel.