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Of Mice And Men

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Of Mice And Men John Steinbeck uses animal imagery to express and introduce characters, events and themes in 'Of Mice and Men.' Steinbeck also uses nature, to convey events and settings in a subtle way. In section one of 'Of mice and Men' Steinbeck uses various colours to help the reader visualise the clearing as a tranquil and peaceful place. By describing the Salinas River as 'deep and green' the reader instantly envisages the water to be refreshing, mysterious and untouched. In addition, Steinbeck suggests that the clearing is full of sunlight: 'The water is warm too, for it slipped twinkling over the yellow sands.' Yellow, in this context, is calming because the words 'warm' and 'twinkling' are used before it. Steinbeck also uses alliteration to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere: 'south of Soledad, the Salinas River.' The repetition on the soft's' sound is calming and subtle. Steinbeck repeats this technique: 'the water is warm too.' As with the's' sound, the soft 'w' is calming. ...read more.


The only reference to nature in section 2 is the use of a simile: 'In and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.' On the surface this simile seems pleasant, the flies represent nature and shooting stars are known to be lucky. Also the 'busy' flies may remind the reader of the itinerant workers that come and go. However, this simile does have sinister connotations, suggesting that something is rotten on the ranch; Hinting that death and destruction will follow in this novel. The theme of animals is also used to depict deep friendship when Candy's dog is callously killed: '"I'd put the gun right here" he pointed with his toe' Carlson is arrogant and insensitive causing candy's to reveal one of the deepest friendships in the novel:' The old man squirmed uncomfortably. "Well hell! I had him so long. Had him since he was a pup. I herded sheep with him" He said proudly, "You wouldn't believe it to look at him now, but he was the best damn sheep dog I ever seen.' ...read more.


Steinbeck uses the comparison between Lennie and animals, in this situation to show that his actions aren't done out of anger or spite but out of instinct and fear. During the fight Curly description changes dramatically from a 'terrier' to a 'fish on a line' implying that he is helpless, vulnerable and at Lennie's mercy: 'The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line.' In the last section of the novel, a poignant comparison is made using wildlife. 'A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting it periscope head from side to side...A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.' Steinbeck uses this metaphor to emphasise that Lennie's death is fate, just like nature. In conclusion, Steinbeck relays back to nature and wildlife to subtly describe a situation, theme or character. This allows the reader to identify with the novel and understand situations more clearly and deeply. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is an extremely well-crafted piece of writing that retains consistent focus on the question proposed. It is a breath of fresh air to see an essay that does not start with "In this essay I will...", followed by an ...

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Response to the question

This is an extremely well-crafted piece of writing that retains consistent focus on the question proposed. It is a breath of fresh air to see an essay that does not start with "In this essay I will...", followed by an exact copy of the words used to phrase the question; an opening that can become clichéd and can show examiners, before they have even finished reading, that little thought to change the typical format has been employed. It would be advisable to try and vary your essay openers, as this candidate has done, to ensure that maximum attention is focused on the essay when being examined and to make your essay appear different and provide that fresh replacement for such a tired opener.
This particular student however, has answered the question and noted important features of Steinbeck's 'Of Mice And Men' pertaining to the question. The analysis is thoroughly insightful and sensitive to the elaborate contextual information provided by Steinbeck in his novel. Each point is backed up with a quotation from the base text (an excellent use of Point, Evidence & Explanation) and then further developed to give a cohesive, coherent essay. But one of the best things about it is that the essay deliberately strays from that often restricting structure, but very infrequently does so if the content doesn't strengthens the answer (one example is the relatively poorly explored mention of "The Dream", where perhaps a little more elaboration could've strengthened the link between the mention of it and it's relevance to the title question). Other than that, there are very few "spare words" here that do not gain marks. This response consistently proves the candidate responsible a worthy recipient of top marks for their question focus.

Level of analysis

The candidate here is very astute to the extensive animalistic reference that Steinbeck employs throughout his novel. Taking elements from various points (evidence has been drawn and explored from all three sections), this candidate shows clear and precise understanding of the text as well as the literary tools Steinbeck has used (thematic elements, motifs and socio-economic commentaries). Commenting on things that other, lesser ability candidates may omit, such as the use of nature (this skill is fantastically evidenced in their paragraph on the use of the colour yellow and the phonetics of the words Steinbeck uses to set the scene) show that their ability to write about a novelist's direct and peripheral intentions is well-established. This is something that greatly strengthens the answer of the essay, as it not only shows that the focus is directly orientated toward the question proposed, but that the candidate is able to slightly digress, but only to further strengthen their answer by illustrating how other elements of the text influence the use of animal-like descriptions. The last few paragraphs on the topic of how nature and fate become seamlessly linked together are not only extremely informative, but also a joy to read as the individual has shown their ability to take the foundations that the novel builds and expand their answer further by applying a knowledge that does not once feel strictly regimented or rehearsed, or regurgitated from a lesson. The writer writes with flair, insight and has used an expansive range of linguistic skills in order to answer the question.

Quality of writing

Here is where the answer may lose marks that would otherwise be saved if the candidate had only re-read their answer, correcting any erroneous details, after writing it. The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) in this essay by no means compromises the strength and potency of the overall response, but comma splice: "Steinbeck also uses nature*,* to convey events and settings in a subtle way", and sometimes writing the title without capitalising the letters: "Of mice and Men"/"Of Mice and Men" should be avoided as these are very easily going to lower the QWC mark. Thankfully, as stated before, these minor irks do not in any way detract from the brilliantly presented knowledge of the novel or their answer to the question.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 09/02/2012

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