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How does John Steinbeck use animals in "Of Mice and Men"?

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How does John Steinbeck use animals in "Of Mice and Men"? Steinbeck refers to animals in various ways during the novel. He compares characters to animals, revealing their physique or personality. Animals are especially important to the main character - Lennie. Animals also hint at the future as Steinbeck uses them as good or bad omens, which excite the reader. Animals have been compared to characters many times in the novel; Steinbeck often describes Lennie with animalistic terms. One example is when he compares Lennie to a bear, "dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws". Steinbeck also describes Lennie by using a simile of a horse to show that he is not only as strong as one, but also has manners like one: "snorting the water like a horse." Other characters are also identified with animalistic descriptions, but not always in metaphors and similes. ...read more.


This implies that Lennie does not know his own strength. Later, Lennie goes further and kills a puppy: "Why do you got to get killed? You ain't so little as mice. I didn't bounce you hard" Once again, Lennie's mentality lets him down and kills hid dog by bouncing it. He does not realise that bouncing the dog may lead to the dog's death. The killing of the larger animal indicates that Lennie has the ability of killing an even bigger animal, and perhaps even a human. This is because Lennie's simple mind troubles him because he becomes scared and panics very easily; this causes him to hurt and even kill people. His accidental killing of the mice, the puppy and crushing Curley's hand all hint to what happens to Curley's wife because Lennie does not know what is right or wrong. He does not realise the difference in killing animals or people, although he intends to do kill neither. ...read more.


Lennie is hit in the back of the head while thinking of their dream. He is shot in the same place as Candy's dog was shot, and killed with the same gun - Carlson's Lugar. The similarity of their death shows that Lennie has been treated in the same way as an animal. It can also be said that Lennie killed Curley's wife in a similar way that he killed his pets. This exposes a blurring of the human and animal world, humans are reduced to animals in the way that they are treated, whether it be Lennie or Curley's wife. Steinbeck uses animals very cleverly in this novel. He uses them to describe characters and also uses them as omens. We see how the death of the mice and dog foreshadow the death of Curley's wife, and also how the death of Candy's dog reflects Lennie getting shot. This shows how humans are treated like animals, and how it is sometimes a necessity. Grade - C ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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