✪✪✪ Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men
Setting Character Summaries Plot Synopsis Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men Reception Cultural References Key Terms and Concepts Major Themes Chapter 1 The first article introduces the background of the migrants, or the "new gypsies" as Steinbeck calls them, for the The Globalization Of Immigrants of Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men their histories and way of life It was estimated that the combine did the work Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men more than men, making farms need only a handful around for tasks in support of the machines. Two months Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men to do over again. Although while he was writing In Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men Battle, Steinbeck concentrated on conveying action through dialogue and Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men clear character portraits that in novelistic form contain a forceful sense of concentrated action, the novel itself was Key Causes Of The Serbian Revolution unwieldy for successful adaptation to the stage. Additionally, Steinbeck states the grounds are patrolled by heavily-armed guards and the Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men of vigilantism public relations personal statement common. Steinbeck also implies a critique of the Hebrew-Christian Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men, to Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men effect that the absolute suppression of the animal appetites misrepresents the Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men of human experience. Lennie is often a prime example of someone wanting something he cannot have. Crooks, happy to have the company, invites Candy in, while trying to be gruff about it. He argues that if a novelist can simplify narrative and characterization by ordering a novel as if it were Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men play, the result must be an immediately powerful communication of theme and an enormous intensification of all the other novelistic values.
Of Mice and Men - Summary \u0026 Analysis - John Steinbeck
From the opening to the end Of Mice and Men, Lennie is immediately depicted as a static social outcast due to his mental disability. Crooks is another character that represents a static social outcast because of his race. Lastly, an old, sympathetic man, named Candy, was also created as a static social outcast. Candy is portrayed as a social outcast because. Imagine being outcast because of your ethnicity; or being the only woman on a ranch, stuck in a loveless marriage, when all you really want is someone to talk to. What about having to kill a friend, and bury all chances of breaking free from the life of an average migrant worker?
How would anybody feel? These situations in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men illustrates two key points throughout the story; discrimination and loneliness. In Of Mice and Men, Crooks, the black stable hand, is the definition. This is revealed through the brutal environment established on the ranch near Soledad. Steinbeck explores the hierarchy of society and the unfair power structures that challenge some characters. Life is also difficult for the inhabitants of the ranch as they experience loneliness and isolation and struggle to find friendship.
Although some cling on to dreams as a means of escape, the. But things are not going great for George and Lennie. They move from town to town trying to get a job to be able to afford to get their own property, which is made more difficult by the fact the novel takes place during the Great Depression. He can put up a four hundred pound bale. He hooked his thumbs in his belt and squinted one eye nearly closed. His suspicion underscores the oddity of two men looking out for one another in the work world the boss understands. As the boss leaves, George turns to Lennie and upbraids him for talking, while Lennie asks George about the lies he told the boss—that he had been kicked in the head by a horse, and that 26 the two of them were cousins. The exchange highlights the risks George takes to ensure he and Lennie can stay and work, and how he has to manage Lennie and his outbursts.
One such thing motivating George is the dream he and Lennie share for the little place. The dream is, generally, important for Steinbeck. John H. In an itinerant life, they desire stability. In a life of individual distance, they look to some communal existence. In a life of scarcity, they seek abundance. And in an existence of men looking out only for themselves, they seek the assurance that someone else looks out for them.
Yet, everything in the society they occupy conspires, intentionally or not, to undermine their dream. Not only does George harshly disapprove of both Curley and his wife, he also is not charmed by the woman as are the other men of the bunkhouse. French describes George as a ranch-hand Galahad, remarkably pure and noble in intent. George and Candy move off the subject of Curley and on to the work itself as Candy prepares to leave and ready wash basins for the men returning from the fields.
He appeals to George for discretion regarding their conversation about Curley, and George grants it. As Curley leaves, George plays his solitaire hand, a recurring gesture of his, one loaded with overtones of isolation. As he does so, the flies coming through the light have changed from stars to sparks, suggesting more of a threat. George again moves 28 to the ritual and necessity of repetition, reminding Lennie not to talk, of the thicket by the river and to go there if trouble breaks out, and to repeat it to himself so he remembers. The dominant color in her description is red—the red of threat, of the ominous sky, and of fire, as used by Steinbeck in the novel.
George avoids looking at her, keeps his eyes away and his tone tight, but Lennie gazes at her and lets his eyes work over her body. As the two continue to argue, Lennie announces he does not like the ranch, and George concurs. But he also brings up the need for the stake, a reminder of the dream, of their purpose. The field hands arrive then, heard splashing in the basins. At the same time, Slim arrives. Slim is practically mythological in the description given him: A tall man stood in the doorway. He held a crushed Stetson hat under his arm while he combed his long, 29 black, damp hair straight back.
Like the others he wore blue jeans and a short denim jacket. When he had finished combing his hair he moved into the room, and he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke. His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love. This was Slim, the jerkline skinner.
His hatchet face was ageless. He might have been thirty-five or fifty. His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer. George is immediately comfortable with Slim. The implied critique is that all lame and dependent creatures should be disposed of and replaced. The argument gains force and poignancy in subsequent chapters. The dinner triangle rings then, and the men start to leave. George is curt with him, even insulting, and when Curley leaves, George again admonishes Lennie about watching out for Curley, speculating he himself might be the one to tangle with him. As the chapter ends, the last two images are the twin tensions of the book.
The other is Curley, young, petulant, vicious, bouncing into the bunkhouse, looking clearly and with purpose into the darkness—the innocent and the cruel, the helpless and the calculating. Chapter Three The description begins with the sounds of a horseshoe game after dinner, the only real outdoor entertainment the men have, aside from heading into Soledad to the cat houses. George and Slim sit beneath a light in the otherwise dark bunkhouse, talking, and it is clear George has just asked Slim 31 to let Lennie have one of the pups, and the skinner has agreed to it.
With Slim, however, George delivers it more as evidence that he is scarcely better off than Lennie, in some ways. He just sat back quiet and receptive. But he was too dumb even to know he had a joke played on him. I had fun. Made me seem so God damn smart alongside of him. He never got mad about it, neither. He damn near drowned before we could get him. Clean forgot I told him to jump in. However, considering the end to which Lennie comes in the novel, and the ascendancy of George as the individual on whom the story really centers the only person who undergoes a character change as a result of the plot , charges of sentimentality run into problems.
Immediately after the confession, George symbolically retreats into himself again, laying out his solitaire hand. He and Slim continue to talk, mostly about Lennie, and Slim is able to coax out of George what happened in Weed. The revelation is important on many levels. First, it reveals that George feels he has found someone whose morals are aligned with his own, and who therefore can be trusted. He can confide in Slim; he senses it. And, because the incident in Weed dealt with a pretty woman, and was one in an escalating series of scrapes, it foreshadows that what is to happen on the ranch will be worse and will likely also involve a woman.
George berates Lennie, and Lennie leaves to return the pup to the barn. As Lennie leaves, Candy enters, his old dog in tow. Candy feels the pressure to act, and sits up. He protests, saying he has known the dog its entire life. The man watches out for the dog, admires his ability to work, and sees it as gentle and in need of protection, despite the nuisance the animal clearly is. In short, Candy sees a value in his dog that Carlson and those like him do not. His eyes trained on the dog, Slim says Candy could have the dog.
Slim might have been, a moment before, a sympathetic face for Candy, but as the swamper looks 34 around the bunkhouse, he cannot find someone to help him resist what is beginning to look inevitable. A laborer walks into the bunkhouse then, interrupting the momentum of the deliberations and buying Candy a moment. He shows Slim a letter in a magazine, written by a former hand from the ranch. His last-ditch effort is to point out that Carlson has no gun. But Carlson counters: he has a Luger. Candy asks if maybe they could wait. Carlson pushes forward. Candy looks to Slim for some hope and finds none. When Candy finally acquiesces, he lies back on his bed, in a posture of resignation, and Carlson then gently leads the dog out of the bunkhouse.
As Carlson leaves, George closes the door behind him while Slim tries to strike up conversation, trying to put noise in the room, to distract Candy. He mentions how his mule needs to have his hoof re-tarred, and as the room falls silent again, this time George talks about Lennie, probably enjoying a pup. Seeing 35 what Slim is trying to do, George suggests a little euchre, a card game.
When the shot comes, every head turns toward Candy, and the old man then turns in his bunk, curls in on himself, and stares at the wall. Only Whit, the ranch hand playing cards with a distracted George, seems oblivious. As Whit tries to keep the game going, Crooks appears. Crooks offers, but Slim says he can do it himself. As well, Lennie enters, back from returning the pup to its mother. Lennie sits and tries to keep out of the way. Carlson sets to cleaning the Luger as Candy keeps his back to the room. Candy turns once at a noise, to regard the gun and nothing else, and then he turns back.
At that point, Carlson asks if Curley has yet been into the bunkhouse. When Curley does look in and notice that Slim is gone, the men tell him Slim is off tarring the foot of his mule. Curley, clearly suspicious, bangs out of the house. The moment brings George back to further talk about the stake he and Lennie aim to raise. As Whit speculates over a possible tangle between Curley and the skinner and whether he should go out and see what happens, George insists he will stay out of it, concerned over his stake and staying focused. Whit and Carlson leave to see what will happen and George and Lennie set to talking. George, again, lays out his solitaire hand. The statement reveals what George sees as his moral superiority to the other men.
For them, as a solution to their otherwise troublesome behavior, cat houses are good things; for George, however, they are not worth jeopardizing the stake. That he makes this moral equation while playing solitaire—once again withdrawn into self-concern—underscores how George perceives himself as different, unique, alone. It is up to the reader to decide the merits of such claims. It is the longest single recitation of the dream in the novel—lulling both George and Lennie into a near-trance. It is the apogee of their faith in the abstract. The next moment is another influence that will put an end to the dream. By making the dream actually become possible, the mythical lure of it goes away, and George is actually threatened by the change to his existence, at the prospect that the tribulation so critical to his identity will actually cease to be a problem.
Candy quickly points out that he has money—over half of what they need—and the willingness to help. Candy knows his days of use on the ranch are numbered, and that he has nowhere to go. He sees how George and Lennie look out for one another, hears about the place, and wants to join with them, to make his own future a bit more secure. But as he does the mental figuring, talking out loud, it dawns on him that they could possibly buy the land at the end of the month. Of course, it is also different, involving the three of them, and involving care and work and making sure there is no misstep. Every time George tells the story of the dream, Lennie insinuates himself at some point in a way to actually stop the story, to stop the rhapsody, to symbolically undo the dream.
But as Candy and George think out loud the mechanisms it will take to make it all work, Lennie is silent for a while. Candy is animated not just by the promise but by the complications of knowing what Carlson did to his dog. Candy does not want a similar fate to befall him, and he sees that George and Lennie are, indeed, for all their claims, different from other men. As George finally agrees to let Candy join in on the stake and swears him to secrecy, the old man says one last thing to George as voices approach.
However, given the end of the work, how George refuses to let Curley find and shoot Lennie and how George enlists Candy to help ensure he will be able to find and deal with Lennie himself, the line is hugely weighted. Men enter the bunkhouse—Slim, followed by Carlson, 39 Whit, and Curley. It is clear from their discussion that Curley has accused Slim of fooling around with his wife. With Slim handling Curley, the others become more brazen. Carlson openly mocks Curley, and even Candy joins in. Lennie tries to stand and back away, and before George can defend him, Curley attacks. Lennie is confused and does not fight back, looking to George for instruction.
The image is horrifying. George has to slap Lennie and coax him to let go, facing as much difficulty in getting him to stop as he did in getting him to attack. It foreshadows just what it is about Lennie that will land him and George in difficult spots as long as they are together. Curley nodded. He avoided looking at Lennie. Slim reasserts his leadership, protects Lennie, and gets Curley on his way to medical attention, all in one move. George explains that Lennie was scared. Before long, Lennie is back to himself, worried only whether he will still be able to tend the rabbits.
Of course, George tells him that he will. Chapter Four The setting of Chapter Four bears noting, as it is neither the bunkhouse nor the river. It is isolated both because the men chose to bar Crooks, who is black, from the bunkhouse, and because Crooks himself reciprocally bars others from his quarters. But Crooks, it becomes clear, is also lonely, and while he has to maintain his crotchety demeanor as a defense mechanism, he secretly appreciates company, however fleeting. The chapter opens with a lengthy description of the environs, showing Crooks living in the harness room, not even deserving of a space entirely his own.
Each is somehow separated or cut off from the men who, that Saturday evening, are in town at the cat house. Each is somehow frail or enfeebled or frustrated, and each recognizes it in the others. Lennie is the first one to show up. Being without guile or prejudice, Lennie sees nothing wrong in his wanting to talk with Crooks. But as Lennie continues, Crooks draws him out. Before long, Lennie has begun to tell Crooks about the dream he and George have. Crooks is more than just another guy marveling at the unusual bond the two have. Crooks has never had real companionship. He explains to Lennie, despite knowing Lennie will neither understand nor remember what he says: Crooks leaned forward over the edge of the bunk.
But I know now. First, Crooks acknowledges his own diminished role and presence in the 43 fellowship of the dominant culture of the ranch, and in the dominant culture of the area in general. But Crooks also goes on to articulate why such separation is harmful. The world of the ranch hands is very individual and very lonely. Crooks is also embittered. He begins to muse on the possibility that something might happen to George, that he might not return. As he does so, Lennie grows increasingly upset, refusing to believe that George would abandon him. As he does so, though, Crooks realizes the danger he courts when Lennie stands and begins to approach him.
Backpedaling, Crooks reassures Lennie, tells him George is all right, that he will be back. The effect of his change in direction is to underscore his earlier claims about companionship. Still worried over George, Lennie remains agitated. Crooks tries to reassure him, to show him that he has George and that George will, indeed, return. It is clear that respect for Slim comes from all quarters, including Crooks. Slim is not the one in the barn; it is Candy, who has come looking for Lennie. Candy addresses Lennie, tells him how he was figuring about the rabbits. Crooks, happy to have the company, invites Candy in, while trying to be gruff about it.
As Candy starts to mention that he believes they can make some money with the rabbits, Crooks interrupts and tells them their plan for land will never fly. When he realizes it might just happen, he is as seduced as the others by the idea of a place. He touches his back, reminding readers of his state, enfeebled by past injuries, good for little heavy work, the kind most valued on the ranch.
And like Candy, he will only get older and more infirm. He tells Candy and Lennie that he can work, can help, and in so stating effectively asks to be part of the group. She surprises them. None of the men heard her walk up, and none know how long she had stood in the doorway. She tells them she knows where the men, even Curley, went. Crooks and Candy work to avoid looking at her, but Lennie is enthralled. She is amused by the variety of reaction, but mostly by the fact that none of them will talk to her. Think I like to stick in that house alla time? There would be no remembrance, and thus no regret.
Her comments also underscore the isolation among men, borne of fear. But they are also disingenuous. It becomes very clear that the reason she seeks companionship is hatred of her husband. She complains bitterly about Curley, about his pugnacious behavior and lack of attention. The men do not do a very good job 46 hiding that they know what happened, and she knows it. Angered and flush with the recent realization that he might have a way off the ranch, Candy stands and proceeds to tell her off, his climactic point being that the three of them will have their land, their dream, and that they are better than bindle stiffs, that they are unique.
She scoffs, just as every other character has done in the face of the dream. Upon the realization, she begins to flirt with him. She decides then, out of a powerful hatred for Curley, to seduce Lennie. Crooks and Candy realize what she is up to, and Crooks is the first to act. She does so by bringing back into the room the various cultural separations that existed outside the harness room. She was right in characterizing the group as the weak, in terms of how the rest of the ranch understands each of them, her included. In doing so, Crooks is the first to give up on the dream, and is thus the first sign foretelling its destruction. But his relinquishing it is bitter, because he has shown how much he wanted it to be a possibility.
He has shown himself to the other men, and he has given up companionship and lied about his desires to do so. In a word, he is broken, both in his body and, once again, in spirit, just like Candy, and just like George soon will be. The horses, for one, stamp and rattle at their mangers and halter chains. The sun slices into the barn, and there is the buzz of flies. Outside the barn, the men play horseshoes, oblivious to Lennie. As the description focuses on Lennie, trouble moves to the forefront—he is regarding a dead puppy, and he is worried. The dead puppy causes Lennie to worry immediately about the rabbits. He covers the pup in hay, to hide it, but then, worried and growing angry, he unburies the pup as he considers what it is George will do 48 about the infraction.
He grows angrier, then picks up the pup and hurls it back into the barn. Feeling bad, he goes after the pup after a moment and returns to stroking it, whispering how it was of little consequence, and so its death might not matter to George. To put it simply, things just happen. There is no reason, no rhyme, no cosmic consequence or order. In fact, one of the early titles for the novel was, simply, Something that Happened. She is soundless until she is right near him. When he looks up, he hurriedly buries the puppy in the hay, terrified she should see it.
But she does. She asks him about it, and he reverts to the behavior George told him to use. He says to her. Her assurances put him at ease, and she thus moves closer to him. As she does, Lennie again says how George thinks she will get men into trouble, and she gets angry. She then tells Lennie her story, revealing how trapped she feels in her current situation. The man who made her the promise romanced her, probably got what he wanted, and then promised to write her. The fingers trailed after her leading wrist and her little finger stuck out grandly from the rest. As if to remind them, then, of the risk, a cheer comes from outside. For Lennie, though, it simply points him back to his perennial worry: the rabbits. His answer gives her the opportunity to circle back to her business at hand.
Lennie is entranced. When she tries to jerk away, Lennie closes his hand and holds fast to the hair. At that, she starts to scream at him. Terrified of George and trouble and losing the rabbits, he pleads with her to be quiet, all the time forgetting to let go of her. He puts a hand over her mouth, then, to try to muffle her, and she struggles and screams. He keeps telling her George will be mad, but she struggles harder. The events outside the barn reassert themselves, and Lennie grows aware of the clang of the horseshoes.
He remains sympathetic, despite the obvious threat he also represents. And the meanness and plannings and the discontent and ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very lightly. The curls, tiny little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head, and her lips were parted.
As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment. The narration helps her metamorphosis back into innocence. Candy finds the girl, and trusting George just as Lennie does, gets George before he tells anyone else. Candy, like George and Lennie, has much to lose should the rest of the men discover the girl. George tells the old man that Lennie must have killed her, and George realizes then that Lennie will have fled. As George speculates what will be done to Lennie, Candy tells him that he is sure Curley will want to shoot him, as much because of the incident with the hand as for the killing itself.
Both men know the farm is now a very distant and unlikely possibility. He usta like to hear about it so much I got to thinking maybe we would. Just as Cain is damned to walk the earth doomed to his state, so, too, is George—even before he kills Lennie. And George will suffer for it. How his bad behavior never originated in bad feelings. He tells Candy to give him a few minutes, to stall the others so that he, George, can get a head start. As he does so, he recites aloud some of the things he will now miss, his own version of the dream recitation George had so perfected for Lennie.
After a few minutes, the men, with George, enter the barn. That big son-of-a-bitch done it. Now that Lennie is going to die, he realizes the dream he had only recently taken as his own is doomed. Candy is twice disappointed. As Carlson is off fetching his gun, George appeals to the only person who could make a difference: Slim. He tells George that they will have to get Lennie. George asks if Slim could help ensure some mercy for Lennie: George stepped close.
He never done this to be mean. Even the little sympathy available in this rough place cannot stand up to inevitability. Lennie could not have reacted any differently to his environment than Curley could have to his. For all the pathos in the plight and death of Lennie, of all the weak people struggling against the brute forces of the ranch, the sum is simply something that happened. No meaning, no fate, no avoiding it. Carlson returns and announces his Luger is gone, assuming that Lennie took it. Slim notes that the widower may want to stay with his wife, but his taste is for vengeance rather than mourning.
Chapter Six The final chapter is essentially a single scene, and it brings the story back to the little clearing by the Salinas. The imagery of the opening scene is back as well: the sycamores, the water snake, the shade and the mountains in the distance. Compared to the bedlam of the previous scene, the tone is much quieter, the scene more tranquil. A wind rushes in, a threat of storm, turning over leaves and rippling the pool, and the water snake is swiftly snagged and eaten by a heron.
In the calm of the moment, a small death occurs, and then, before long, another snake returns, and as it does, calm again settles over the clearing. After the calm returns to the clearing, Lennie appears, creeping into the safe place he and George agreed upon only a 55 week earlier. He is attentive to his surroundings, knowing the trouble into which he has put himself. The rabbit tells Lennie that George is sick of him, will beat him, threatening Lennie with some of his own deepest fears, the very fears Crooks approached in the scene in the harness room, in Chapter Four.
George sits next to Lennie, and it is clear he has somehow gotten ahead of the posse of men looking for Lennie. He has something to do, and it soon becomes clear what. George can hear the shouts of the men, and the light is softening around them as night comes on. The world has gone from bright to soft, harsh to insubstantial. Lennie is glad to see George, as revealed in his hope for George to now do what Lennie expects.
The power of the scene comes from Lennie not realizing just to what degree George is about to spare him violence and horror, and from George going through the litany of the dream despite knowing that he is about to end it to save his friend from torment. Lennie is delighted as George goes through the familiar recitation, but George is quiet, halting, bothered. The wind moves through, and the shouts of men come closer. George takes off his hat then, and tells Lennie to do the same, saying the air is nice.
George hears crashing come closer, and as he scans the distance, he then asks Lennie to do the same, but so that he can imagine the little place. George has to bear that burden. George has to steel himself to do it. He tells Lennie about the cows and chickens, about the alfalfa, the whole time working his nerve to do what he knows he must. Lennie looks at him and George redirects his attention, again, to the horizon, to look away from George and the gun. Lennie dies instantly.
George throws the gun away from himself and, as he hears Slim shouting for him, he 57 simply sits looking at the hand that pulled the trigger. Carlson, representing something more brutish than Slim, instead asks George how he did it. George agrees to every detail Carlson comes up with, to weary to deal with making his own story, too stunned and sad to protest. When George and Slim leave to get a drink, Slim continues to reassure George. With Lennie dead, George is altered. He has both taken care of his friend and, in doing so, destroyed a part of his own identity.
George is now no longer exceptional; he is now another man, on his own, looking out only for himself, with no one else looking out for him. When he leaves with Slim and walks up to the highway, he leaves the tranquil world of the clearing and crosses a barrier, the road, the great impersonalizing force of the twentieth century. The sense of futility echoes the poem from which Steinbeck took his title, underscoring the haplessness of efforts and hopes, the uncaring universe in which mice and men find themselves, and the viciousness of the world. As commercial growers took over more and more territory, squeezing out family farmers, the demand for cheap, seasonal labor intensified, and community structures deteriorated. Though traditional agrarianists argued for a return to small farms as a solution to farm labor difficulties and civic instability, the rise of commercial farming and the economic success of agribusiness sufficiently silenced the idealistic notion of a good society shared by all citizens of a democracy.
As a young college student dropping in and out of classes at Stanford University in the early s, Steinbeck worked on the Spreckels Sugar Ranches near Salinas. This experience brought the budding writer into direct contact with migrant workers, many of whom were foreign nationals: Japanese, Filipino, and Mexican. In fact, Mexicans had become the mainstay of the agricultural labor force in California by the mids as growers took advantage of the liberalized federal immigration policy toward Mexico and as the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico steadily increased Daniel, Added to this mix were a number of Americans of Anglo-Saxon stock whose ancestors had migrated westward from the eastern or midwestern regions of the United States in the nineteenth century; though they originally sought their fortunes in gold and land, many eventually hired on as wage earners for the lucky entrepreneurs who had beaten them to the American dream.
Tortilla Flat , his first commercial success, details the lives of the paisanos, people of Spanish-Mexican descent who lived in the hills above Monterey. Given the multiracial configuration of the California labor force in the early decades of the twentieth century, we may conclude that in Of Mice and Men, where the laborers are white Americans, Steinbeck did not intend to draw an accurate sociohistorical picture. Still, the subsistence-level economy, the tensions between workers and owners, and the social marginality of the migrant workers in the novella ring true to the historical details of the actual setting.
Furthermore, by focusing in Of Mice and Men on the dream of owning land, Steinbeck was appealing to a basic desire of average citizens as well as the dispossessed masses, regardless of their race or homeland. Steinbeck biographer Jackson Benson notes that while Steinbeck and his wife Carol were living in Mexico City for several months in , the author was deeply moved by the struggles of the landless poor. The Great Depression, of course, intensified labor tensions in the farming industry in California.
In the early s, agricultural wages dropped to all-time lows and workers found it difficult to provide food, shelter, and clothing for themselves and their dependents Benson, Even before the Communist party appeared on the scene, California workers had begun to strike against the unfair practices of growers. It was difficult for anyone living in California in the early s not to be acutely aware of farm labor issues: strikes erupted in the Imperial Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, Watsonville, Salinas, and the Santa Clara Valley. Also during this period, Steinbeck became interested in writing a biographical piece about the labor organizers; through a friend and organizer, Francis Whitaker, Steinbeck was able to meet people associated with leftist activities and sympathetic to the plight of the workers Benson, — He was interested in depicting the dynamics of a group-man, a phalanx theory that would explain mob psychology and blind commitment to a cause in scientific terms.
Thus the work took on a documentary tone. Having succeeded in portraying a large-scale battle between workers and growers in In Dubious Battle, Steinbeck turned his 61 attention to the more private struggle of two migrant workers longing to escape from a cycle of oppression by buying a small farm of their own. By , the year Steinbeck was writing Of Mice and Men, the technological revolution in agribusiness was threatening what little job security itinerant workers had. These characters are thrust into conflict with the ranch owner, his son, and a social structure that views them more as expendable commodities than as worthwhile human beings.
They are challenged to discover and to maintain their humanity in the face of overwhelmingly dehumanizing forces. In this sense, their story is not just an American drama that takes place in a particular region of the country at a particular time in history; it is a human drama for all places and all times. Notes 2. Cletus E. Jackson Benson Durham, N. The vehicle Steinbeck crafted for Of Mice and Men was a form he called a play-novelette, a novel that could be read as such but could also be performed on stage by working directly from the text.
Each section of the book is a clearly focused episode in which Steinbeck evokes the natural elements of sunlight, shade, and darkness to convey a sense of stage lighting and the opening and closing of scenes. And then from the direction of the state highway came the sound of footsteps on crisp sycamore leaves The entire first scene takes place in the grove, with most of the action centered around the campfire. Part 2 opens with physical details of setting so specific that a set designer could recreate the scene on stage with no further instructions; the prop crew would need no imagination whatsoever to furnish the room.
Steinbeck mentions the shape of the bunkhouse, the number of square windows, the woodstove, the square table with boxes for chairs, the wooden latch on the door. Even the items on the shelves are mentioned. All of part 2 takes place in this room where entrances and exits are announced, and new characters are introduced by their physical appearances, just as George and Lennie had been described in the opening scene. The action begins with the raising of the wooden latch on the bunkhouse door and the entrance of Candy, George, and Lennie. As in part 1, the stage is set and then the principal characters enter.
The tension of the story line increases throughout the scene each time the wooden latch is raised or some new character steps into the doorway. These two, like other men, had plans. There will be a fine, grand misquoting of Burns before all the reviewers are done with this book. It is a simple story, one that combines a curious dream-like quality with the swift streamlining of a good play. It is a story that will sweep you irresistibly with it, too; even though you may shudder more than once, you will not put it down.
You meet George and Lennie as they have made their way to a camping spot by a stream near the ranch where they have a job promised them for the next day. George, small and shrewd, is the brains of the pair in much more than the usual sense. He will do anything George tells him but by himself he is lost. Sometimes George grows furious with Lennie for his stupidity, long as he has known him. Sometimes, too, Lennie gets into trouble. When he pets a mouse he pets it hard and kills it. Lennie had meant no more but the girl screamed, and they had to hide in a ditch all night. Sometimes George wished he could put Lennie in a cage with about a million mice and leave him there. He had to take care of him anyway; somebody had to, that was sure. And besides, he and Lennie shared a dream.
That dream was a little ranch somewhere. There was nothing strange about their dream as you see. Men everywhere have had it. But so far George and Lennie had never been able to fulfill it. As the story opens, however, they are still dreaming it. And when they come to the ranch and go to work there develops out of nowhere, by sheer luck, a chance that their dream may be realized. Another man has had that dream too. A little more money, no more than George and Lennie can earn and save in a month or two, and they can buy the place they want. They even know the one, and how much it will take. How that dream, so near fulfillment, was snatched away is the story, Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck has done such a masterly job of story-telling that you feel the horror that is ahead even before it begins to grow.
You see the fate that is going to overtake these men and their dream. And in spite of the grimness of the tale, let me hear you deny after you have finished it, that Steinbeck has written it beautifully as well as powerfully. There is no question, of course, that there will be the usual chorus of recriminations. Here so it will go Steinbeck had the materials for a fine propaganda novel, a tale of the class struggle that might show how the working man is exploited, etc.
He might have done such-and-such and he should have done it thus-and-so. I hope he will go right on, sharpening his talent as he is doing, changing his subjects, his interests whenever he feels like it, writing about whatever is close to his heart at the moment he writes, doing books that are sensitive, beautifully written, imaginative works of art. As for the books written to prove this or to demonstrate that, to put forward a thesis or to help the acceptance of an idea—let the ones who want to write them do so. Sometimes such books will be literature. Sometimes, if the writers of them happen to be artists, they will also be beautiful books.
But more often you will find beauty in books that were written because their authors wanted to write them, just for their own sakes. So far, Steinbeck has stuck to that plan. And Of Mice and Men is the best evidence that it is the right way for him to write. John Steinbeck is no mere virtuoso in the art of story-telling; but he is one. Whether he writes about the amiable outcasts of Tortilla Flat or about the grim strikers of In Dubious Battle, he tells a story. Of Mice and Men is a thriller, a gripping tale running to novelette length that you will not set down until it is finished. It is more than that; but it is that.
George and Lennie belong to the floating army of drifting ranch hands. The relationship between these two buddies of roads and ranches is a strange one and causes comment at the new ranch. George is small, dark, wiry, restless, keen-witted. He is stupid, but well-meaning. George and Lennie came from the same Southern town, and George has taken it on himself to take care of the big fellow. Sometimes he wishes he were free of him. They had to run away again to keep Lennie out of jail. But when George is around he is all right, for he obeys George implicitly. George is a keen thinking man. There is nothing in this knocking about. If only Lennie can be kept out of trouble.
Then they can get a stake together and live on the fat of the land in a place of their own. The big fellow never grows tired of hearing this story just as a child likes to hear a tale told over and over again. And at the new ranch, the way things are shaping up, the dream seems to be on the point of coming true. The tension increases and the apparently casual acts and conversation nevertheless fit together to create suspense in an atmosphere of impending doom. There are trouble makers in the bunkhouse. He wins no matter how the fight comes out, because if he licks the big fellow every one says how game he is; and if he gets the worst of it every one turns on the big fellow for not taking [on] some one his own size. The other boys know how to keep out of trouble.
But Lennie only knows what George tells him when George is right there on the spot. The girl spots Lennie as the only soft guy in the bunch. The climax comes, not as a shock, but as a dreaded inevitability. The theme is not, as the title would suggest, that the best laid plans Of Mice and Men gang aft agley. They do in this story as in others. But it is a play on the immemorial theme of what men live by besides bread alone.
In sure, raucous, vulgar Americanism, Steinbeck has touched the quick in his little story. Once more, John Steinbeck refuses to be neatly pigeonholed. He has qualities lamentably rare in modern novelists: imagination and a restless, inquiring mind. He will not sit down, like Thomas Wolfe, and contemplate his navel. That is the way novelists achieve fame and shelves of books all stamped with their trademarks; and Steinbeck cannot be accused of courting fame, for he chooses queer balconies.
Beyond that, the man is something more than original in creation. Those who seek originality are almost always experimenters; and the results they offer are—experiments, usually unsuccessful. Steinbeck, obviously, does experiment; but he has a discernment in approach, an uncanny touch in creation, that lift everything he writes out of ephemeral brackets of experimental work. That is because he always has his feet on the ground rooted in the earth and the things of earth—no matter what mountain peaks his level eyes look on. Now, Of Mice and Men. A little book, half the size of an ordinary novel the gods be praised for that! In everything but its superficial form, the novel is a play.
I was not surprised to learn that a second script is being rehearsed at a San Francisco theater now. It does not creak: and it will not, on the boards. There is fluid movement, here, and inevitability; never spoiled by theatrical mechanics—and yet, it is theater, as theater ought to be. George Milton and Lennie Small wander from one job to another on California ranches. The mice die, surprisingly, for Lennie is very gentle; or, he thinks he is. But his great paws have an unconscious power; and the mice die and the women scream.
So they drift on to other parts, sometimes none too quickly. Purling water is purling water here, without overtones; a gracious sky is as beautiful as in any lyric poetry. Versatile, perhaps; in a day when success has the tendency to standardize, versatility in a novelist or any one else is thought of with some astonishment. The threads that run continuously through these stories by John Steinbeck are, under examination, more than perceptible. Not especially rare are those authors who think in terms of panaceas, whose lack of courage and vitality draws back from the monumental task of understanding; they are all for short cuts, for adopting some ready-made philosophy and rushing on from there, and what we get from these authors are drab second-hand discoveries, valueless intrinsically dull.
Here, however, is an intelligence as explicit as any research scientists, an intelligence directed toward the understanding of the relationship between men and earth. In each successive book, this desire to explore the complex affinity is more apparent, until, with the publication of Of Mice and Men, it achieves such cumulative impact as to be undeniable. Of Mice and Men is made of a theme which some lesser novelist might have called too insignificant to expound—two indigent members of the strange tribe of casual workers destroyed by the simple mystery of loyalty.
But before they are destroyed there burns brilliantly between the covers of this little book the image of the fire inside the flesh of two human beings, whom fate has crushed before birth, human beings whose lives mean no more to Nature than robins caught up by hawks. Maybe six, seven hours a day. And while George dreams in the crummy ranch bunk-house, he knows that his words are lies; and the reader knows his words are the lies we use to escape our destinies. And the author knows. They are not ugly lies, you understand; merely the imagination evoking for the moment its little dream, an escape in to a fairyland where there is no barley to buck.
In Arizona the cowboys ride fence, one leg propped over against the saddle horn, absorbed in a magazine of hair-raising adventure stories. Men take whisky into them and, with its drug, bump their heads against the stars in their rosy fancy. And serious observers, infuriated by a world which impels us frantically toward escape, babble in an impotent fashion of cures. Those who speak of books hunt down such observations and interpret them in terms of social significance. But the poet who immortalizes the fleeting tragedy of two such men as George and Lennie is his own social force.
That Lennie was an idiot, no less, and victim of a pathological disease, is entirely beyond the point. John Steinbeck does not know what makes men idiots and victims of disease; such knowledge comes slowly and painfully as does the cure for cancer. Such nonsense invalidates the very spirit in which the author of such a work as Of Mice and Men is creating. Of such verities does John Steinbeck write, out of a warm and a rich knowledge. In Of Mice and Men, the truth is made into a moving and profoundly beautiful book full of singing prose and enchantment. If, standing upon some pinnacle of dry logic, we suspect that his creations of these ignorant American laborers are idealizations, that without the magic of his poetry they must remain sweat-soaked beasts of the fields, we but doubly assure ourselves of his essential humanity and pay his artistry the highest compliment we know.
Steinbeck is a contributor to Esquire and has been startling its readers since that magazine exploded upon the public a few years ago. It is strong, it is powerful and it is wonderful, but unless you can swallow raw stuff—lay off. George and Lennie were ranch hands. George was small, wiry tough, shrewd; Lennie was enormous, floppy-looking but Herculean, and a half-wit. George and Lennie were pals. Lennie was always getting them into trouble, losing them jobs, getting them run out of town because he liked to pet things—mice, little girls, rabbits. Not conscious of his blundering strength, Lennie was apt to kill what he petted.
George kept him in line as well as he could by bawling him out, threatening to leave him, telling him a beautiful fairy story about how they would save enough money to buy a little farm, settle down in comfort, let Lennie take care of rabbits. On the new ranch everything went all right at first. Lennie was a terrific worker, did beautifully as long as George was at hand to tell him what to do. It looked for a while as if they could really make their stake, buy their little farm, settle down to make their dream come true.
But then things began to go wrong. Knowing where Lennie was hiding, George got to him ahead of the posse, got trusting Lennie to turn his head while he shot him behind the ear. An oxymoronic combination of the tough and tender, Of Mice and Men will appeal to sentimental cynics, cynical sentimentalists. Ralph Thomson. In retrospect, the lovable half-wit Lennie seems even a more improbable character than at first reading it appeared to be. He can never remember things. He tenderly loves puppies and mice but always forgets about not squeezing them too hard, and kills them.
Fabulously strong but very timid, he is quite docile in the hands of George, the pilot-fish of the pair. George feels that Lennie has been given into his keeping. He controls him by talking about the rabbit farm they will have one day, where Lennie may look after the rabbits if he is good—for George too is webbed in the dream. They come to work in the Salinas Valley, and it is there, among the people they meet at the ranch, that their story is worked out.
This story has that common denominator of most good imaginative writing, a shadow of the action that means something beyond the action. But the underlying theme of the danger of dreaming never clogs the primary story. The people, human beings reduced to bareness of thought and speech and action, are on the side-tracks of the main line of western culture. They exist in a hard reality, but most of them are susceptible to dreams. Some of them are lost in compensatory dream-images of themselves, others are set afire by the wish-dream of George and Lennie. A writer deep in the ways of his own people feels in many cases unconsciously a racial compulsive: the actual and mythical experience of his people helps generate his material.
In the present story, Lennie is cast up from the midst of us and we all know him. Baffled, unknowingly powerful, utterly will-less, he cannot move without a leader. And we also know many Georges, good-heartedly trying to help the Lennies of life muddle through; but all the while, despite their courage and good intentions, none too certain of themselves. John Steinbeck sees them as unable to prevent their charges or often themselves from steering into catastrophe.
In book after book his protagonists, tragic or comic, are shattered; and it goes hardest with those who had the brightest dreams. It is disturbing to find these men of good will so consistently going down in spiritual defeat or meeting with a brutal death. This is a book written with compassion, celerity and an admirable sense of structure. It is that rare and much to be desired thing—a short novel.
The telling takes no more than 31, words, and yet the narrative is fully rounded out and complete. For instance, in my opinion, Of Mice and Men is infinitely more important in the literary scheme of things than Gone with the Wind. Steinbeck knows his farm workers as well as anybody else. Lennie and George talk straight. No spurious literary phrase creeps into the mouth of either. Nevertheless many long stretches of their conversation are animated by true poetic content.
I think life is like that and that modern authors are beginning to find it out. Transcripts of talk may be as faithful as you please and still take on the cadence and color which make for beauty. That may be a shock to some, since along certain levels poetry means Eddie Guest and a rhyme scheme fit to break the ear with its persistent beat, like that of night club drums. I do not know which native author should be selected as the spiritual ancestor of Steinbeck. Every writer has to have an ancestor forced upon him, whether or not he recognizes the old gentleman. Offhand it would seem to me that Ring Lardner might have suggested in part the manner and mode of John Steinbeck.
To be sure, there is little similarity in subject matter and none at all in point of view save the quality of compassion for those who get pushed around. I assume that at some period of his life Steinbeck read Upton Sinclair. Sinclair is a good model for young authors, since he can serve both as an inspiration and at the same time as a horrible example. I think that writers will be lucky if they can catch from Upton something of his terrific zeal about present problems in the workaday world, and yet if the younger men are exposed to his influence too long they may become infected with the flatness and bleakness of the Sinclair prose.
It is smoother, of course, than the English of Dreiser, and yet never ornate. So it was with Of Mice and Men as far as I was concerned. I had put the book down all stirred by the logical poignance of its conclusion. And it was only then that I suddenly realized that this man Steinbeck could write like a magician. Until then I had been too much interested in what he had to say to pay very much attention to the manner in which he said it. Like a conjurer, a novelist should be able to take the rabbit out of the hat without letting his audience in on the way in which he did it.
John Steinbeck seems to me right now to be the wonder man of current American letters. All but one of the persons in Mr. Two of them are evil, one of them is dangerous without meaning to be, and all of them are ignorant—all of them, that is, except the one who shall be named hereafter. Far from knowing the grammar of conduct, they do not even know its orthography. No two of their thoughts are consecutive, nor for that matter do they think; it is rather that each of them follows some instinct as a bull follows the chain which runs through a hole in his nose, or as a crab moves toward its prey.
The scene is a ranch in California, and the bunkhouse talk is terrific—God damn, Jesus Christ, what the hell, you crazy bastard, I gotta gut ache, and things like that. The dialect never varies, just as the story never runs uphill. They are wound up to act that way, and the best they can do is run down: which is what happens when Mr. Steinbeck comes to his last mechanical page. What, however, of the one exception. His hatchet face was ageless. He might have been thirty-five or fifty. His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. He looks through people and beyond them—a feat never accomplished save in mechanical novels.
And he understands—why he understands everything that Mr. Steinbeck understands. It is the merest accident of education that he talks like the rest. That would have given the real sound and look of Lennie, and besides it is a real word. Steinbeck, I take it, has not been interested in reality of any kind. All is extreme here; everybody is a doll; and, if there is a kick in the story, it is given us from some source which we cannot see, as when a goose walks over our grave, or as when in the middle of the night the telephone rings sharply, and it is the wrong number.
We shall remember it about that long. It is as if the author had a graphophone record of remarks by Norman Thomas or Mr. John L. Lewis at his elbow. So fiction suffers; and argument is confused. On his record of six books he takes rank as the best interpreter of the semi-submerged in this country. Whether good or bad, unfortunate or self-stricken, he goes to the core of character with the precision of a surgeon whose diagnosis is given in terms of art. Tricky rhetoric he eschews. The manner of his expression is fine and true.
In his newly published short novel, Of Mice and Men, [what] might seem vulgar is dignified, and at times transfigured, by a soul shining through. This is the story of George and Lennie, strange partners in grain-bucking on a California ranch. So there is one thing more for George to do in the most affecting passage of recent American fiction. Heywood Broun, reviewed in his column not long ago. My admiration for Mr. Broun leads me to want to look into anything he praises, and so I sent for the book to bring it away with me. It is beautifully written and a marvelous picture of the tragedy of loneliness. I could see the two men, one comes across their likes in many places, not only in the West described in the book but in every part of the country.
When I closed Of Mice and Men, I could not help but think how fortunate we are when we have real friends, people we can count on and turn to and who we know are always glad to see us when we are lonely. Steinbeck this time wrings the Tears of Things from a ten-gallon hat, and reviewers who cannot bear the mawkishness of a Milne, the crudity of a Coward, or the mysticism of a Morgan were able to take the sorrowful symmetries of a Steinbeck to their hearts and write their reviews with tears running down their cheeks.
Of George, who loved Lennie well enough to shoot him? That is perhaps the secret of his charm. I feel sure that all those reviewers who cheered so hard for Of Mice and Men would, if they could have been caught while still sobbing over George and Lennie, have admitted that even critics are only boys at heart, for that is just the mood that Mr. So perhaps again, they would admit that this secret of his success is that a certain simple type of reader feels, when he discovers that he has foreseen correctly any movement of a story, a kind of participation in the creative act of the author.
When George learns that a poor old worthless smelly dog can be dispatched easily by a shot in the back of his head, you are unwarrantably guileless if you do not suspect the manner in which Lennie will meet his death. If an old man dreams of a home, peace, and security you may be sure that a home, peace, and security are what he will most agonizingly just miss. And so forth. Masculine sentimentality particularly when it masquerades as toughness, is a little longer in being seen through than the feminine or the inclusively human variety.
Ah, I was forgetting Mr. Since the death of Ring Lardner, an element once characteristic of American fiction has been conspicuous by its absence: laughter. The short stories and the novels of our younger writers are so often pervaded by a humorless intensity or by an irony and didacticism that leave the reader cold. Now from California comes a novelist with a better balance, a shrewder skill, a more native sense of reality. His name is John Steinbeck: he has five novels to his credit. Farsighted reviewers began to spot him three years ago; the reading public, slower with its recognition, will now hurry to make amends. John Steinbeck must have footed his way through that California which is neither movies nor real estate.
He knows the wanderers—the fruit pickers, the ranch hands, the hoboes; he knows this migratory race—its pride, its humor, its gullibility and futility. New Steinbeck readers might follow this programme: first, Tortilla Flat, light-hearted, wholly delightful; next, In Dubious Battle, which, partisan though it be, is quite our most vital story of an American strike; and so coming down to his Of Mice and Men. You feel the affection that binds Lennie and George together.
You hear talk as natural as grass. You recognize in them a hunger which moves all men. There are moments when the tension and brevity of the story make it read like a theatrical script. But, whatever be your favorite passages, here is indispensable proof of a vital and experienced story-teller. Professor van Doren was dreadfully put out by its profanity, which suggests that he is the Rip Van Winkle of our times. Collins the author of Becoming a Writer, which tells how to make your unconscious do the work decided that the story was so obvious that it bowled over only critics who were boys at heart. Collins evidently feels that in saying that the author meets the expectations of the readers she has dealt his story a body blow.
As a matter of fact, she has merely expressed her dislike for a technique that is one of many employed by writers; her interests are intellectual. And her concern with the novel is chiefly as an exercise for the mind. This is a high form of artistic appreciation and expression, but by no means the only one. What counts in Of Mice and Men is that the author meets the expectations of his readers women as well as the stag line a bit more successfully than many other workers in his medium. Steinbeck, in Of Mice and Men, is both melodramatic and sentimental. Assume that there is love between a performing bear and its keeper; the bear hugs a woman to death and the keeper has to shoot it. It is a pitiful tragedy amongst people the brightest of whom is hardly more than half-witted, and the publisher is rhapsodical about it.
Personally I think Mr. Steinbeck has done better work than this. Of Mice and Men is decidedly surprising and queer. It is the story of two casuals who run out of one job into the next. One is a huge half-wit with a grip like a vice and a brain like a pea. The feeble talk of cowboys, their pathetic hopes and affections, their childish preoccupations, are perfectly recorded. The American underdog has provided Mr. Steinbeck with some macabre material. The reader must not be put off the book by its awful jacket and its pointless illustrations. The final scene, in which George, preparing to shoot his friend to save him from being lynched, tells the little story for the last time, is a triumph of the sentimental macabre.
This is a moving story of two drifting cattle-ranch hands in California. George and Lennie are friends, owning nothing but what they pack from one job to the next. But they are optimists. The dream that buoys and binds them is of the bit of land they are going to buy—some day. The vision comes excitingly near, then vanishes. A phenomenal worker but a wantwit, he is pathetically incapable of looking after himself, or even of controlling his huge body. George, small, active, querulous, is incessantly watchful over his infantile friend and liability.
Now a promising fresh start offers on another ranch. The lynchers go in pursuit. But George, with a stolen pistol, reaches Lennie first and deals quick death, the best that could come to his friend. Steinbeck has contributed a small masterpiece to the modern tough-tender school of American fiction. Walter Sidney. Harry Hansen. Sterling North. Somerset Maugham. Wells and John Steinbeck. Russell Smith. Joseph Henry Jackson. James Newcomer. Note 1. This quote combines speeches by both Lennie and George. The critic mistakenly elides them. Instead, it seemed designed for simplistic rather than mature readers. Specifically calling attention to his depiction of human nature as fresh, direct and authentic comparable to de Maupassant , Beach then goes on to single out Of Mice and Men for the beauty depicted in its tragic story line and the essential decency and pathos shown by George and Lennie.
Gibbs, Lincoln. Gibbs praises Steinbeck for advocating social reform and confronting the vulgar and uncouth facts of life in concrete detail. Burgum, Edwin Berry. Burgum found that Steinbeck presents a wide range of attitudes toward poor workers and vagabonds throughout his many novels. In the novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck creates characters that evoke complex sociological attitudes—some defined, some ambiguous—regarding the underprivileged.
Burgum suggests that Steinbeck leaves the reader pondering at the end of the story, unclear about what attitude to take toward the moral dilemma surrounding Lennie and George. Harold Gardiner, — This essay suggests that Steinbeck does not fit into categories of negativism so prevalent among other modern writers. While the author depicts human existence as unremitting conflict and a savage battle, he also emphasizes that life is worth living baffling though it may be by asserting the resiliency and tough durability of his characters. Lisca, Peter. The delay this time, however, was not in publication.
Covici-Friede received the completed manuscript in September of , and Of Mice and Men was published in February of the following year. If I can do it well enough, it will be a good play. February, In May,. Two months work to do over again. It sets me back. There was no other draft. I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically. Reprinted by permission of Rutgers University Press.
It was not until late in August Steinbeck finished the job of rewriting. And this tone is vastly important. I probably did not make my subjects and my symbols clear. The microcosm is rather difficult to handle, and apparently I did not represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men. September, But whereas in the earlier work the de-personalized protagonists were easily absorbed into a greater pattern because that pattern was physically present in the novel, in Of Mice and Men protagonists are projected against a very thin background and must suggest or create this larger pattern through their own particularity.
To achieve this, Steinbeck makes use of language, action, and symbol as recurring motifs. All three of these motifs are presented in the opening scene, are contrapuntally developed through the story and come together again at the end. The first symbol in the novel, and the primary one, is the little spot by the river where the story begins and ends. The book opens with a description of this place by the river, and we first see George and Lennie as they enter this place from the highway to an outside world.
It is significant that they prefer spending the night here rather than going on to the bunkhouse at the ranch. Sometimes, as in The Grapes of Wrath, this retreat is explicit overtones of a return to the womb and rebirth. In the opening scenes of Of Mice and Men, Lennie twice mentions the possibility of hiding out in a cave, and George impresses on him that he must return to this thicket by the river when there is trouble. Out of this translation grows a second symbol, the rabbits, and this symbol serves several purposes. The transference of symbolic value from the farm to the rabbits is important also because it makes possible the motif of action. This is introduced in the first scene by the dead mouse which Lennie is carrying in his pocket. He repeated his words rhythmically, as though he had said them many times before.
This ritual is performed often in the story, whenever Lennie feels insecure. And, of course, it is while Lennie is caught up in this dream vision that George shoots him, so that on one level the vision is accomplished—the dream never interrupted, the rabbits never crushed. The highly patterned effect achieved by these incremental motifs of symbol, action, and language is the knife edge on which criticism of Of Mice and Men divides. On one side, it is claimed that this strong patterning creates a sense of contrivance and mechanical action,3 and, on the other, that the patterning actually gives a meaningful design to the story, a tone of classical fate. Such a tool cannot be forged within the limits of this study; but it is possible to examine the particular circumstances of Of Mice and Men more closely before passing judgment.
Although the three motifs of symbol, action, and language build up a strong pattern of inevitability, the movement is not unbroken. About midway in the novel chapters 3 and 4 , there is a countermovement which seems to threaten the pattern. Also, the old workman, Candy, is willing to buy a share in the dream with the three hundred dollars he has saved up. But, and this is very important, Steinbeck handles the interruption so that it does not actually reverse the situation. Rather, it insinuates a possibility.Chapter Six The final chapter is essentially Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men single scene, and it brings the story back to the little clearing Spotlight Movie Analysis the Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men. Impales them, rather, since the rich tensions of this poignant perplex, however unresolved, are honestly and powerfully presented. He begins to muse on the possibility that something might happen to George, that he Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men not solitude-poem. That simple, paralleled irony substitutes for a possible, intense, necessarily complex, and ambiguous development of the materials. With the novel Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men critical and commercial success, Steinbeck Purpose Of Criminal Law famous. A guy needs somebody Ostracism In John Steinbecks Of Mice And Men be near him. George does his killing as a kind of ritual.