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Of Mice And Men Essay

1065 words - 5 pages

ohn Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men, was first published in 1937. At the time, America was still suffering the grim aftermath of the depression and the itinerant workers who form the basis of the novel were very much within the consciousness of a nation separated by wealth yet driven by the idea of ‘the American dream’. Steinbeck’s novel is, however, essentially a tale of loneliness, of men struggling alone against a cold, uncaring and faceless destiny.

The central protagonists, George and Lennie are, as they are proud to proclaim, different from the others because they have each other. They are an odd couple, George the shrewd, wiry yet ultimately caring ...view middle of the document...

Indeed, the whole of the book follows the circular movement established by the setting of the beginning of the novel and inverting descriptions used there in the ending which takes place in the same spot, where Lennie has been warned to return if anything goes wrong which inevitably it does.

Upon arrival at the ranch, Steinbeck takes the opportunity to introduce the reader, via the newcomers, to a panoply of characters, all loners for one reason or another: the old, maimed and dispirited Candy, the black, crippled and isolated Crooks, the feisty and arrogant boss’s son, Curley, who is newly and unhappily married, his wife being what the others call a ‘tramp’, and the god-like Slim, to whom all the others look up and to whom they all look for an image to idolise. Steinbeck uses each of these in a different way to show facets of loneliness and isolation, with only Slim seeming beyond the idea that he is an object of pity.

From the first, George is afraid that the aggressive boss’s son, Curley, will cause trouble for himself and Lennie because he is an amateur boxer who sees Lennie’s size as a challenge and is ‘handy’. However, when he is involved in a violent incident with Curley through no fault of his own, Lennie crushes his hand and Slim warns him that if anything is said about it, he will make Curley look a fool, the thing he knows Curley fears most.

Indeed, Steinbeck perpetually uses Slim as his centre of consciousness in the novel, the man in whom George confides, in a carefully choreographed ‘confessional’ scene, for example, where even the lighting reflects the intense interrogative. Slim is also the only one of the men who appears to have any kind of relationship with Crooks. It is no coincidence, either, that it is Slim who comforts and consoles George at the end of the book, telling him...

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