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Of Mice and Men - summary

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Introduction

Of Mice and Men Coursework Rough copy. Introduction. 'Of Mice and Men' is written by John Steinbeck, published in 1937. The novel is set in the 1930s during the great depression in California. The two prominent characters, George and Lennie are farm workers who have a dream of one-day owning their own ranch. They find work in a ranch near Soledad, after escaping from Weed because of George's incident. They are met by different characters on the farm that all have a dream. Lots of farm workers would share the dream of all one day owning some land of their own. This dream became very popular and was named the 'American Dream.' Its people came from every country and background with the one belief that America would bring them wealth and happiness. For very many others, America offered escape from poverty and starvation. It was a new country, an undiscovered one. In Europe land had always been the key to money and status. Only in America could the poor of Europe hope to own their own land. The country became more and more heavily populated as the word got around of gold mines, and new homes and villages developed creating communities. At its simplest the American Dream was the popular idea that America was a country that allowed men and women to make a clean start. Like all dreams the reality did not always match the dream. However the destruction of the Indians, the American civil war and the creation of city slums were all growing pains of a great country. Yet the dream survived. That is this dream survived until the late 1920s. By then there was no more land to be claimed and America had built up its own rules and laws. This marked the start of the great depression. Farming was badly effected, as over farming had caused huge areas of land to just dry up. ...read more.

Middle

The atmosphere of later violence has the potential to create trouble for Lennie. Finally friction builds up between Curley and Lennie. 'Let the big guy talk.' This harsh confrontation is caused by Lennie's attempts to obey George's instructions to say nothing. Curley's presence is not good for Lennie and George's safety. This is emphasized by Candy's comments 'he's alla time picking scraps with big guys.' Since Lennie is a giant man it seemed certain that a violent assault would come from Curley. As Candy explains, Curley is a small man and feels that he cannot loose this kind of situation. This seems very dangerous as Lennie 'don't know no rules' when it come to fighting. It is typical that Curley should pick on Lennie for his display of violence. In picking on the large but apparently harmless man, Curley demonstrates his own cowardice. There is an irony in the fact that it is Lennie's happy thoughts about the farm which leave a smile on his face, which is misinterpreted by Curley. Despite his size Lennie has two distinct disadvantages, he will not act unless told to do so by George and he is terrified by aggression. Because of this he does not make any attempt to defend himself. Curley is a vicious fighter and is out to inflict damage on Lennie. Animal imagery is used towards Lennie as he stands like a 'bear' with 'paws' covering his face but Curley is the 'dirty little rat.' Lennie's strength and grip crushes Curley's hand . This is not aggression but more of a reflex action, it is a defensive move. Carlson is not a cowboy, but does possess a handgun. There is a conversation about Carlson's gun in the bunkhouse this lets George know where it is kept. The sensitive slim points out that when Candy's dog is killed there will need to be a decent burial so a shovel would be needed. ...read more.

Conclusion

She finds her dream in the glittery world of show business, the cinema and glossy magazines. This is a sharp contrast to that of the three men. Her interest in the world of cinema and film stars suggest that her dress sense is there to make her stand out from all the other 'ordinary' girls. Eventually though in one way or another all the peoples dreams die out because of Lennie. Candy, George and Lennie's dream is destroyed because of Curley's wife. Lennie sinned and the heaven of the small farm became a dream again. George realizes that his own prospects are now no better than those other ranch workers, with their limited ambitions of cheap sex and gambling. Georges vision is an example of the second kind of unhappy vision. When he sees his future aimlessly drifting.' I'll take my fifty bucks an' I'll stay in some lousy cat house. Or I'll set in some pool-room till ever'body goes home.' Lennie's dream is shattered. He starts to have visions after killing Curley's wife. The appearance of a giant rabbit is to do with Lennie's fear for the future. The rabbit is a symbol of a time of peace in quite and natural surroundings. Lennie tells himself that his dream has been destroyed by what he has done. Steinbeck again creates a sort of parallel not only between the shooting of Candy's dog and of Lennie, but also between the emotions which motivate the killings. George ends up by killing Lennie, Lennie has killed Curley's wife, and Carlson killed Candy's dog. All killers are motivated by passion. Many of the workers have dreams of one kind or a another, and sometimes they share the same dream. Generally though the characters have one choices of an almost realistic dream. This is the dream that includes companionship, honesty and love or the 'dream farm.' Which represents the ambition and the possibility of escape from the workers loneliness and poverty. These factors eventually stimulated the violent deaths and therefore the abrupt ending of dreams. 5,594 words Melissa Russell 11H ...read more.

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