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Steinbecks portrayal of the four key settings; the clearing, the bunkhouse, Crook's room and the barn, develops the readers understanding of the Novella.

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Introduction

Steinbeck?s portrayal of the four key settings; the clearing, the bunkhouse, crooks room and the barn, develops the readers understanding of the Novella by emphasising the concept of failure in conjunction with the American Dream, thus allowing us to empathise with important characters within of mice and men. In the opening chapter, Steinbeck achieves an understanding of timelessness through the description of a peaceful but eerie clearing. This clearing has great significance in the story as it is where Steinbeck starts and finishes his novel; it is described as ?lifeless? and ?pleasant.? This depiction of the tranquillity of the setting is ironic, as although to lennie it represents a safe place to come if something ?bad? happens, it is ultimately where he ends his life. Of Mice and Men is an example of a circular narrative, which suggests that although lennie and George are different from all the other characters, they are all ensnared into an inescapable cycle of working, ?blowing their stake? in ?cat houses? and then moving on. Steinbeck uses similar words to describe the clearing in both section 1 and section 6. It helps to enhance the timelessness of the setting. ?A stilted heron? appears in the opening chapter, reappearing as a ?motionless heron? in the final chapter. A bird ?skittered? over the same dry leaves that a lizard made ?a great skittering? over in the first chapter. ...read more.

Middle

Not only is this reflected in the workers themselves, but also in their few belongings. Upon each workers ?apple box? ? an example of the practicality and simplicity of the building- there are few ?little articles?, each designed to make life on the ranch easier and therefore more productive for each of these men. One of these ?articles? is the ?talcum powder?, necessary to assist the men in providing some level of cleanliness, after a long day working hard at the ranch. This helps us to understand the situation of these men, whilst emphasising the lack of personal belongings, and hence, a lack of identity, leaving the men to resort to conformism. The life on the ranch for the majority of the story is based on the idea of the ?American dream?. Every man wants a ?little place? of his own, where he could live ?offa the fatta the lan?.? This idea of escapism is reflected in the ?western magazines? owned by the men, which they loved to ?scoff at and secretly believe?. Read by these men to dream of escape from the life of a migrant worker, the cycle of weeks of backbreaking toil, before moving on to the next job to repeat the process again. None of the characters can escape from it. Not even George and lennie! Nothing is permanent for these men; they only own small things, which they can carry on their backs. ...read more.

Conclusion

After Lennie flees, and Candy and the others enter the barn to discover Curley's Wife's body lying in the hay, the barn begins to darken, and the Sunday laziness of the horses dissipates, foreshadowing the dark ending to come. In the tragic novel ?Of Mice and Men? Steinbeck uses setting to prepare the reader for the novels pessimistic ending. Steinbeck sets the novella during the Great Depression, this has great impact on the story as a whole as this ensures that the characters within the novella are all living in poverty and desperate for work. This poverty and the general tough times caused by the Depression, gives the characters good reason to be suspicious of the relationship between George and Lennie, this disbelief at such a close friendship between the two men hints that their relationship is destined to come to a painful end. In of mice and men, the American dream is the foundation of what keeps the workers living, but it can also leave the men bitter. The closer a worker comes to fulfilling a dream, the closer he comes to being disappointed, this is suggested through the poem, from which the title was taken from, proposing that dreams can often fail to become reality. In this novella, dreams, hopes, and plans are not realistic, but about finding a way to survive the harsh times in which these men are living, Steinbeck?s use of setting enhances and highlights the idea of the American dream, whilst foreshadowing that the novella is destined to never achieve its happy ending. ...read more.

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