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Explore the implications of 'homelessness' with regards to Lennie.

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Introduction

Question: Explore the implications of 'homelessness' with regards to Lennie. 'Home' in Of Mice and Men represents an ideal, one that all characters in this novella, including Lennie, appear to lack. Thus they are all 'homeless' in one sense or another. The subject of home and homelessness is one that is closely related to all the major themes of Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck effectively portrays his characters by their different aspirations towards 'home'. In doing so he creates a hierarchy of this ideal. Thus the most humble and submissive dream of home pursued by Lennie and his companion George is shown to be the most compelling and greatest of all. Yet, will Lennie grasp the light flaming on the top of the Gabilan mountains-the light of heaven? Or are the providential forces of fate and destiny to render 'Paradise Lost' ? Of Mice and Men is about the plight of two American labourers, George and Lennie. George is a 'smart little guy' whereas Lennie is the exact opposite. The plot and structure of the story is very economical and the language used is in no way elaborate. ...read more.

Middle

Even George, Lennie's closest companion "used to play jokes on 'im 'cause he was.. dumb." Rejected by society Lennie is 'homeless.' However, one must add that although Lennie is treated badly at times, there are others where he is treated with kindness and sympathy. Yet, is sympathy enough to make him feel at 'home'? In the first paragraph of the story we are introduced to the idea of nature as 'home'. Yet, although Lennie is constantly portrayed as an animal, as with man, Lennie and nature are incompatible; one inevitably leading to the destruction of the other. Lennie, like a child, is fascinated with things that he can caress such as mice and pups. His love for them is undeniable, yet they all end up dead. One may say that he 'loves them to death.' Both Lennie and George know that Lennie is incapable of surviving in nature, thus with a sort of animal wit, Lennie plays on George's feelings of guilt: "If you don't want me....I'll go off in the hills...and live all by myself." The idea of Lennie living alone in nature is a laughable one. This incompatibility is ominous- it is as if Steinbeck is saying that Lennie will either destroy nature or nature will destroy Lennie. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nobody never gets to heaven and nobody never gets no land." Lennie's tragic death is the final confirmation of this. Lennie's life can be seen to be a trap. The only means of escaping the implications of homelessness and thus freeing himself is to dream. Crooks' double negative ('nobody never gets to heaven') leads us to question whether Lennie actually ascertains his ideal home - paradise. Across the Salinas river lies the 'golden foothill slopes' that 'curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains.' The light flaming on the top of the Gabilan mountains is an image that recurs throughout the novella. At the end of the book Lennie stands facing the great mountains, all that lies between him and paradise is the Salinas river-the river of death. In death, Lennie has overcome this barrier. His ascending spirit is scaling the 'golden foothill'-the path to heaven whilst his body shall soon receive the land for which it so yearned. Whether or not Steinbeck intended so literary an interpretation is unknown. However, the image gives us valuable insight to Steinbeck's views on the subject of home. It is as though Steinbeck is saying that the actual apprehension of the dream is of little importance, what is of importance is the feelings and emotions that are generated by it. ...read more.

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