• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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 n***o", 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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

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

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Slave's dream

    5 star(s)

    "He heard the lion roar and the hyena scream". In America, the slave is like the hyena, cowering to the powerful lion, but the slave wants to be as strong and free as the lion. At the end of this stanza, it is like the slave has become the lion, "Like a glorious roll of drums, through the triumph of his dream".

  2. Of Mice and Men - 5 Diary Entries

    Im gonna get hold of those old people an' tell 'em im gonna buy the house, at the end of the month we will have $450 and then I'd keep workin' on the ranch to pay off the rest. One day soon we might just be able to do it.

  1. How Does Steinbeck Show The Importance Of Friendship In The Novel

    Tha's three hundred and fifty bucks I'd put in. I ain't much good, but I could cook and tend the chickens and hoe the garden some. How'd that be? I'd make a will an' leave my share to you guys in case I kick off, 'cause I ain't got no relatives nor nothing."(p.59)

  2. Of Mice and Men Animal Imagery Chart

    like a sheep which will bleat when being attacked by a wolf and will not run away. "Curley stepped over Lennie like a terrier." Chapter 3 - when Curley is hitting Lennie in the bunkhouse. Curley is described as a terrier as he is attacking Lennie when he is weak.


    George says that they have a future, this plays on the idea that George's American dream of having the little plot of land is alive and achievable as long as he has Lennie. The reader sees this kind of friendship throughout the whole book.

  2. Creative writing - Of Mice and Men Sequel

    He looked up and around at the nearby tree, the tree that towered over the ranch, casting a long shadow over a part of the bunkhouse. He took one last glance and turned away. The gunshot was heard again as Carlson pulled closer to the cart.

  1. How does Steinbeck present and develop Lennie in Of Mice and Men

    and this could be perceived by Steinbeck's readers as Lennie being afraid of his punishment as a child would be scared of theirs. In the time that Steinbeck wrote the book everyone wanted the 'American dream', which was to have their own land and lots of money.

  2. Write an analysis of the opening chapter of Of Mice and Men. How effective ...

    The name of the novel, 'Of Mice and Men' comes from the poem 'To a Mouse', by Robert Burns who was a Scottish farmer as well as a poet. The full line of the poem from which the title is from is, "The best-laid plans of mice and men/often go awry".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work