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"Of Mice and Men" By John Steinbeck - review

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Introduction

4th March 2003 "Of Mice and Men" By John Steinbeck - Coursework "Of Mice and Men" was set in the 1930's in North California. This was a time of economic hardship due to the Wall Street Crash. Men were forced to leave their families and find work on ranches. Pay and working conditions were poor. Men scraped by, spending any extra money they had gambling or in one of the many whore houses. This is where Steinbeck drew his inspiration from; he spent time on the ranches experiencing the hardships experienced by the workers. The book is about these workers and the extremely lonely lives they led. It also exposes underlying themes of racism and how badly the disabled were treated. This was a time when people looked after number one, as there was nobody else to do this for them. The two main characters are somewhat different, as they travel and work together, looking out for each other. This was very unusual because life would have been hard enough without the extra responsibility of looking after another person. The two main characters have just been evicted from their work in a town called "Soledad" (which means loneliness). They are the only people in the book whose names Christian names are actually used. It shows that nobody makes the effort to make friends enough to be on first name terms. This is symbolic of the loneliness of each of the characters and shows how unusual the two main characters are. ...read more.

Middle

Candy is very talkative because he is so eager to make friends. He warms to this gossip because he on his own when all the workers are in the fields. As soon as he meets George and Lennie he engages them in conversation, hardly letting them speak. He lets out all the opinions, about Curley and his wife and the other ranch hands that he has formed and never had anybody to tell them to. In fact the only sort of a friend he has is an old dog. The dog is old, has no teeth and it stinks. The dog is used to symbolise Candy: old and useless. The dog is also used as a foreshadowing device for Lennie's death. When Carlson tells him that he should kill the dog he tries to stop him by making up excuses: "Maybe it'd hurt him," and tries to put the inevitable off; wants to spend just one more day with the dog by killing it in the morning. The only reason Candy had left to live was the dog so in a way Carlson killed a part of him. The dog is also used as a second foreshadowing device for what George has to do to Lennie in the conclusion of the book. Lennie, unlike the dog, however will be killed by the only person he trusts in the world. This will come from the pressure of other people. In the early 20th Century, blacks were heavily persecuted because of their colour. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lennie strokes it a bit too vigorously and her panic affects Lennie. He breaks her neck by accident, then thinks that if he hides the puppy, which is used as a foreshadowing device to Curley's wife's death George will be more likely to let him tend his precious rabbits. This is sad and ironic, as Lennie cannot grasp the enormity of the thing he has just done. Curley's wife seemed peaceful after her death; "the ache for attention were gone from her face." She was realised from her prison on the ranch and was now free and happy. When George hears, he despairs, for Lennie has ended their chance of achieving the impossible "American Dream". One of the themes of this book is certainly loneliness. The people are segregated into groups. Age, disabilities, race and sex separate many people. Also the time of economic hardship forced men to look after number one. It made it very hard for the men to form friendships as they have very few responsibilities. The book is about the unusual friendship of George and Lennie who have nothing in common with each other apart from they share the American Dream. That is all that keeps them going. It is extremely sad when George is forced to kill Lennie because he was all that George had left. It was ironic because George had always spoken about what life would be like without Lennie; how he could be free. Now he had his wish he was devastated that he had had to kill the only friend that he had in the world. ...read more.

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