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How does Steinbeck use animals to show the themes in "Of Mice and Men

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How does Steinbeck use animals to show the main themes in "Of Mice and Men?" This story is about two men (George and Lennie) and their desperate hope in that they will raise enough money so that they can purchase a plot of land and "live of the fatta the land". In this essay I will discuss how Steinbeck uses animals to show the themes of, friendship/loneliness, anger/violence, cruelty/kindness and dreams. The main points that I will be discussing are, how Lennie connects with animals, how Steinbeck portrays loneliness through animals, how the American dream fuels and directs the story, how Crooks is treated like an animal and has animal instincts himself, how killing of animals foreshadows the story, how Steinbeck uses animals to symbolize or reflect different emotions the characters are experiencing and the way Lennie is killed at the end which summarises that Lennie connects with animals in the most devastating way. At the beginning of the story Lennie is drinking from the pool as though he is an animal. "Drank with big long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse", this straight away reveals to us that Lennie has animal instincts. When Lennie and George arrive at the ranch, immediately Curley begins to show aggression towards Lennie as an animal would do to protect it's territory, Curley tries to bait Lennie into having confrontation with him. ...read more.


Candy is immediately drawn in by the dream, and even the cynical Crooks hopes that Lennie and George will let him live there too. A paradise for men who want to be in control of their own lives, the farm represents the possibility of freedom, independence, and protection from the cruelties of the world. As this is his idea of an ideal world, this world would allow him to have the freedom in which farm animals live in. In the story "Of Mice and Men" another major character that not only adds to the theme of loniness but also adds to the theme of discrimination is Crooks. In the era of when this book was written people were stereotyped into a hierarchy, and at the bottom of this hierarchy were black people. "The stable buck's a negro", this shows that Crooks was treated just as poorly as animals, he was isolated from the rest of the men and was given his own room just because he was black and not allowed to be treated as an equal. Steinbeck really enforces the ideas of the racial issues that were going on at the time, he makes Crooks seem like an animal because that was how he would have been treated in that time. ...read more.


Steinbeck introduces his last chapter with pathetic fallacy, "the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes". The beginning of this chapter has a very peaceful and slow pace he has slowed the mood right down so you know something terrible is about to happen. At the end of the chapter Lennie is killed. Lennie is killed the same way in which Candy's dog was killed. Lennie was shot at the back of the head and this is the way somebody would kill an old or out of control animal. This is the last time Steinbeck compares Lennie to an animal and he does it is the most devastating and meaningful way. Steinbeck is an extremely thoughtful writer as he manages to apply the animals to show almost all the themes in "Of Mice and Men". He has a key character that represents a animal in many ways (Lennie), he has people that are treated like animals, he shows how the American dream for ranch people is to have a farm with many animals, he lets the senses of the animals predict or illustrate and display emotions of the events that will occur or will have occurred, he makes the animals show foreshadowing and he shows how the animals were treated at the time. These are all the main points that I have discussed in this essay to answer the question "how does Steinbeck use animals to show the main themes in "Of Mice and Men?". ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Animals are a significant element of Steinbeck's story. As the essay writer ably points out, they appear in most episodes, as harbingers, warnings or to add emphasis to the central action. The essay is mostly well conducted, picking up the main themes, one by one, and relating them to animals. Sentences and paragraph structure are largely well-controlled, with some notable lapses. Quotations are well chosen and explained to support the points being made.

Not enough is made of the central feature of Lennie's attitude to animals, that is the fatal element in the final tragedy.

4 stars

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 10/06/2013

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