Critical Essay OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck’s moving and thought provoking novel ‘Of Mice and Men’, is set in the 1930’s during the US Depression. George and Lennie are two men who experience the hardships of this time first hand while they’re working on a ranch in northern California, having been chased away from their other job. They have a dream to “live off the fatta the land.” This is the only way in which they have a chance of escaping the hard times which they are living through. The outcome of the novel, however, is inevitable as the whole way through the story everything points to just one conclusion.
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George seems to be the only person who has any control over Lennie, and can calm him down when things get out of hand.
Steinbeck uses a lot of similes and phrases which portray Lennie as an animal, “... drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse... Lennie dabbed his big paw in the water...” This shows how Lennie is uncivilised, but not as if he could cause much harm. However it is his unnatural strength that makes him more of a threat. George has seen how easily Lennie accidentally causes trouble. Previously, when they were both in Weed, Lennie was wrongly accused of rape after holding on to a young women’s dress. Lennie, being obsessed with touching soft things, grabbed hold of the women’s dress to feel the soft material. They then both had to flee; George knows it’s just a matter of time before something similar happens again. He warns Lennie, “hide in the brush” next time something bad happens.
The character of Curley’s wife also points towards the tragic ending. Right from the beginning she is not trusted by George. Although Lennie, not realising what trouble she could cause, can’t help but be drawn in because of her pretty looks and flirty attitude. Curley’s wife doesn’t have much of a relationship with Curley, he doesn’t spend time with her or listen to her. To Curley, his wife is seen as more of a possession to him. Steinbeck emphasises this by not giving her name. She’s the only women on the ranch and the loneliness this brings and her unhappy marriage mean that she is always trying to get the attention of the other men that work on the ranch. The only way she knows how to do this is by using her good looks to flirt with the guys; the ranch men call her a tart, and can see her giving other guys ‘the eye’.
One of the reasons Curley’s wife is chasing after other men is because she knows how much more she could have made of her life. She was so close to being able to making something of herself, and when it was all taken away she hoped that marrying Curley would bring her another chance to get everything she wanted. Curley’s wife didn’t realise until after she’d married Curley that “He ain’t a nice guy”. Towards the end of the novel she tells Lennie “you’re a nice guy”, she is not discouraged by Lennie’s feeble attempts to reject her. Curley’s wife feels she can confide in him as they both have similar problems. For example neither of them are allowed to talk to anyone. For Lennie, this is because of his disability yet this also appeals to Curley’s wife as it means he won’t judge her. Overall I can see why Curley’s wife treats men the way she does and why she gets attached to Lennie, she has close to nothing going for her anymore and it is hard not to feel sorry for her. Of course this, nevertheless, also contributes to the ending.
A lot of similarities can be drawn between Candy’s dog and Lennie. To George, Lennie is like a faithful and loyal dog. George has been looking after Lennie ever since Lennie’s Aunt Clara...