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What methods does John Steinbeck use to develop the character of George and Lennie in the novella Of Mice and Men

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H/W 31st December 2010 What methods does John Steinbeck use to develop the character of George and Lennie in the novella 'Of Mice and Men' The novella, 'Of Mice and Men', written by John Steinbeck, is set in California's Salinas Valley, Soledad during the Great Depression. Steinbeck illustrates the loneliness of ranch life in the early 1930s and highlights how people are driven to try and find friendship in order to escape from loneliness. Steinbeck deliberately uses the town 'Soledad', meaning loneliness to connect with the main theme of the novella; furthermore, George Milton is depicted many times playing the game of Solitaire, meaning alone. Of Mice and Men is filled with characters who are unable to escape from their lonely lives. In 1930s America, the itinerant farm workers of the Great Depression found it impossible to establish fixed homes, forcing them to wander from ranch to ranch seeking temporary employment and to live in bunk houses with strangers. Their nomadic lifestyle made it difficult to establish a friendship and this was the cause of their loneliness. George explains the misery of this situation at several points during his dialogues with Lennie - "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place" The opening scene of the novella appears to be an extremely peaceful and idyllic place as the Salinas river winds through an idyllic scene of yellow sands, golden foothills, and deer that come to the shore to drink at night, which immediately builds an image of a heavenly place, filled with beauty. ...read more.


This image illustrates that George acts as a parental figure and Lennie is similar to a shy child hiding behind a father. On entry, Steinbeck describes the two dichotomous characters. Instantaneously, George is identified as an itinerant migrant worker, because of the clothes he wears and possession he carries, for example: his hard wearing 'denim' clothes; denim clothing was preferred clothing for farm labourers in America in the 1930s because it was resilient, robust and though suited for working. This is further emphasized by the fact that they are carrying 'tight blanket rolls' which conveys the precarious lives of migrant workers. Steinbeck conveys to the reader that he is nomadic farm labourer seeking work as he is 'beating the hard-worn path' taken by countless other migrant workers; Steinbeck portrays George as being observant and apprehensive due to his 'restless eyes and sharp strong features'; which indicates that he is unable to relax because of the burden of his responsibilities. George has to look after the mentally retarded Lennie in order to keep him out of trouble and woe. George is symbolic of 'the everyman', a typical farm labourer and ordinary individual in 1930s America. On the other hand, Lennie is the complete opposite of George, ' a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes with sloping shoulders'; which indicates that he has the mental capacity of a child and the strength of a 'bulll' and he is unable to control or even judge his own physical power. ...read more.


In the novella, George and Lennie's American Dream is also easily shattered as everything goes wrong when Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. There are abundant similarities between the Burn's poem and the novella, for example: man's dominion is the theme of both poem and novella. The line 'I'm truly sorry man's dominion, has broken nature's social union' emphasizes that Robert Burns felt a great reverence towards animals, who do not have free will like humans do. He tries to explain that he could not help but having 'dominance' over the mouse. In Steinbeck's novella, Lennie also has dominance over animals, when he accidentally kills the mouse, the dog and Curley's wife because he has no control over his powerful physical strength. The message that Steinbeck wishes to convey to the reader about George and Lennie is a socialist theory and that everyone should have a role in society. In the novella, each different character represents a different group of people. George represents 'the everyman', as his lifestyle is simple and similar to other people in 1930s America. Lennie obviously represents the mentally handicapped who is not accepted in 1930s America. Moreover, Crooks is subject to discrimination; for instance, when he is forced to sleep in a separate room from the other labourers, his marginalized status becomes obvious. His plight epitomizes the ubiquitous segregation of color in 1930s America. While Candy represents what happens to everyone who gets old in 1930s American society. Steinbeck wishes to emphasize that everyone should have a role in society to prove the point to the reader that everyone is equal through unclouded eyes untampered by society. ?? ?? ?? ?? Name: Khaliunaa Naranbayar 1 ...read more.

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