Of Mice and Men recounts the story of two itinerant ranch hands who, despite their apparent differences, are dependent on each other. Lennie Small, by far the better worker of the two, suffers not only from limited intelligence but also from an overwhelming desire to caress soft objects. These traits, combined with his uncontrollable strength, set the stage for disaster.
The fact that a disaster has not already occurred is largely the result of the vigilance of Lennie’s traveling companion, George Milton. Being aware of Lennie’s limitations, George does his best to keep Lennie focused on their mutual dream of owning their own spread, raising rabbits, and being in charge of their own lives. He also ushers Lennie out of town whenever the locals misinterpret his friend’s actions.
When the reader first encounters Lennie and George, they are setting up camp in an idyllic grove near the Gabilan mountains. It is lush and green and inhabited by all varieties of wild creatures. It represents, as the ensuing dialogue makes clear, a safe haven—a place where both humans and beasts can retreat should danger threaten. This setting provides author John Steinbeck with a context against which to portray the ranch to which George and Lennie travel the next day. The ranch, as he describes it, is a world without love and in which friendship is viewed as remarkable.
Steinbeck frames the desolation of ranch life by having George and Lennie comment on how different their lives are and having the other ranch hands comment on how unusual it is for two men to travel together. The hired hands have no personal stake in the ranch’s operation and, for the most part, no stake in one another’s well-being. Although they bunk together and play an occasional game of cards or horseshoes, each is wary of his peers. It is for this reason that Lennie and George’s friendship is questioned by everyone and why their dream of owning their own place is so infectious, especially to men such as Crooks and Candy, both of whom long to escape this loveless, isolated existence. Complementing this theme are the description of Candy and his dog and Crooks’s analysis of what it means to have a friend. Even Curley’s wife is used to reinforce the message. She is a woman who, despite her own dreams of grandeur, finds herself living on a ranch where she is perceived as a threat and an enemy by all the hired hands.
To underscore the situation, Steinbeck adopts restricted third-person narration and employs a tone that can best be described as uninvolved. His technique is an outgrowth of his desire to fuse dramatic and novelistic techniques into a new literary format, which he called the “play-novelette.” Accordingly, he relies on setting and dialogue to convey his message. For this reason, he begins each chapter with a compendium of details that allows readers to envision the scenes much as they might were they watching a staged presentation. Once he has outlined the surroundings, however, he steps away and relies on dialogue to carry the main thread of the story.
Significantly, Steinbeck begins and ends the novel at the campsite. This circular development reinforces the sense of inevitability that informs the entire novel. Just as Lennie is destined to get into trouble and be forced to return to the campsite so, too, will George be forced to abandon the dream of owning his own farm. Instead, he will be reduced to the status of a lonely drifter, seeking earthly pleasures to alleviate the moral isolation and helplessness that Steinbeck suggests is part of the human condition.
Essay on Of Mice And Men
548 Words3 Pages
Every day, people are faced with responsibility. Some thrive under the pressure while others crumble. Responsibility is a sign of independence. Teenagers with greater amounts of responsibility feel freedom from their parents. In the same case, too much responsibility can put more stress on that freedom-seeking teen and can have devastating effects. John Steinbeck shows the theme that in life, responsibility is best taken in moderation in his novel Of Mice and Men.
In Of Mice and Men, George shows the weight of responsibility on taking care of Lennie. George knows he could be better off without Lennie. “When I think of the swell time I could have without you, I go nuts,” George finally expresses. He even tells…show more content…
George even uses Lennie’s need as leverage to keep him under control. Lennie strives to hold responsibility. Unfortunately, Lennie tends to hurt the animals that he does receive. He is too strong for the animals that she cares for. During their journey from Weed, Lennie tends to a mouse, only to end up killing the fragile creature. Later on, George gets Lennie a puppy that Lennie regretfully kills with his power. Lennie’s good intentions fell short in comparison to his power. Lennie was looking for responsibility in pets but took on too much when the animals would be killed by his overwhelming strength.
Using the two main characters of the novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck shows that in life, responsibility must be taken in moderation. George takes on the challenge of caring for Lennie. In doing this, George loses a job in weed and is often short-changed when it comes to food and other amenities. Eventually, George realizes where he could be without Lennie and kills Lennie to free himself of the responsibly. Lennie, in a life where he has always been protected by loved ones, looks for responsibility in dependent pets. Each time he is given a chance with an animal, he always cares for it with gentile love. Often times, Lennie’s strength would be too much for the animal and they would fall under his powerful hands. In the end, both men see that they were not capable of conquering the tasks at hand. George