3. Describe the devices Steinbeck uses to create atmosphere in Of Mice and Men.
The story is set in California's Salinas Valley and the action takes place on a large ranch during the Great Depression. One of the ways Steinbeck creates atmosphere in the novel is the way in which he uses nature as a background and ‘medium’ of his characters. Nature is seen in minute detail. The opening of the novel illustrates this and the description is full of nostalgia. The tone is simple and immediate:
‘There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down form the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from ...view middle of the document...
The action begins on the evening of a hot day, continues with George and Lennie talking in darkness and half-darkness with the fire lighting the trunks of the trees until the ‘sphere of light’ from the fire grows smaller. The next day they go to the ranch house and we are told at 10 o’clock in the morning ‘the sun threw a bright, dust-laden bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars’.
The poetic element of Steinbeck’s style is balanced by the realism of the language his characters use. His writing is mainly simple and direct but sometimes the tone becomes lyrical.
Moods: Powerlessness, helplessness
Especially in the first chapter Steinbeck foreshadows EVERYTHING that will happen in the book in the first chapter. Key event that builds the mood:
The mood of powerlessness is shown and foreshadowed throughout the novel: "Of Mice and Men" in many ways. For example, Carlson killing Candy's dog. Carlson is a ranch hand and Steinbeck has DELIBERATELY made his character into the typical ranch hand that you would get in 1930s America. Steinbeck uses the event of Carlson killing Candy's dog as a way of setting the mood of powerlessness and to foreshadow Lennie's death at the end of the novel. For example, Lennie is killed because he can't fit in with the 1930s America migrant worker world, this is shown through dialogue where George mentions that him and Lennie had to flee Weed because he touched a girl's skirt and she saw it as rape. Lennie is also killed at the end of the novel because he accidently kills Curley's wife through no DELIBERATE intent, the fact that Lennie doesn't really know what he is doing emphasizes Steinbeck's mood of powerlessness, Lennie is going to be locked up no matter what he does and it also shows he can not fit in with their society. This bares a direct correlation to Candy's dog's death where Carlson (the typical ranch hand who symbolizes a typical ranch hand at the time - therefore he symbolizes typical society) distinctly says: "that dog stinks" and "you need to get rid of 'im" as the dog does not fit in with the norm (the "norm" is symbolized by Carlson) and therefore he is shot even though Candy begs Slim for him not to be killed because he loves the dog. These moments create the mood of powerlessness, helplessness and sadness in the novel because Steinbeck shows that no matter what Candy or George do, they are powerless to stop what happens.
Steinbeck creates atmosphere brilliantly in Of Mice and Men.� He uses the verb as a descriptor, and by including contrasts, similes and metaphors, the recurring themes of light and sound and suspense, he creates a very vivid atmosphere.� The characters which he used are also described in such a way that he infers a sense of atmosphere in the book.
First of all, Steinbeck uses themes of light and sound.� At the beginning of chapter one, describes the scene very vividly, using such phrases...