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Comment on how Steinbeck uses the Natural World as a setting in the novel 'Of Mice and Men'.

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Introduction

Comment on how Steinbeck uses the Natural World as a setting in the novel 'Of Mice and Men' In the novel 'Of Mice and Men' Steinbeck uses the Natural World as a setting in various different ways. The structure of the novel is based on two main settings: the riverbank and the ranch. These two settings intentionally contrast immensely. The riverbank is an idyllic setting and is seen as an escape from 'mean' places, (such as the ranch), of hard work, racism and discrimination to a place of pureness, solitude and wildlife; 'a dove's wings whistled over the water'. Lennie at one point has an idea of living on his own in a cave, 'I'd find a cave', this shows how unrealistic the idea of living in the Natural World is. He is often compared with animals in the novel; 'looked wildly' (p26), 'snorting into the water like a horse' (p20), yet Lennie is not intelligent enough to survive in the wild alone. ...read more.

Middle

Steinbeck uses Natural Imagery and Sound to contribute to his use of the Natural World. The first setting of the novel is the idyllic riverbank where 'the sycamore leaves whispered in a little night breeze' (p25) this scene is contrasted with the last scene where 'the crash of the shot rolled up the hills and down again' (p147). The idea of the peaceful, tranquil setting is demolished by this one sound of a gunshot, and the Dream is shattered. 'The light of the sun had gone from the valley' and 'sunshine in the doorway as cut off', are two examples of how Steinbeck uses the natural light of the sun, (the sun usually symbolises hope, happiness etc.), as ominous hints to what may happen in the future. The entire novel is a microcosm of the society in America. One aspect of the novel is people escaping from the hard, economic world to the Natural World. ...read more.

Conclusion

The book opens and closes in the same location. The changes in description of that setting in the beginning and the end of the novel symbolise how much the lives of George and Lennie have changed. In the first setting, it was described as 'lifeless' (p19) and 'noiseless', as opposed to the last scene in which 'the brush seemed to fill with cries' (p146). The first description symbolises how George and Lennie's lives are just after they escape from Weed, whereas the description of the final setting symbolises their lives after Lennie killed Curley's wife (i.e. how they are both shattered). The riverbank can be seen in two different ways: The place where it all began; the untouched Natural World where George and Lennie escaped reality for one night, or the place where it all ended which shows the reality of what happens all the time, and the unreality of the Dream World (and the Natural World). Florentina Pantelli ...read more.

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