Of Mice And Men And Grapes Of

Wrath Comparison Essay, Research Paper

Of Mice and Men and The Grapes Of Wrath

John Ernst Steinbeck’s novels The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men share many common themes such as dependancy, survival and unity. Although subtle, the most intriguing link between these two novels is Steinbecks infatuation with the human soul. He delves deep into the human heart and pulls forth very strong emotions such as devotion, compassion and sympathy. These feelings are what propel Steinbecks novels forward. It is through the microcosmic relationship of George and Lennie, in Of Mice and Men, and the social macrocosm of the migrants, in The Grapes of Wrath , that Steinbeck illustrates the limitless reaches one would go for his fellow man once a bond has been formed.

The relationship between George and Lennie shows the limitless reaches one would go for his fellow man on a microcosmis level Steinbeck uses these two characters to represent strong one-on-one relationshiips that one experiences throughout their own personal life. Although George and Lennie are two individual men, the qualities that one lacked, the other possessed: “Behind him[George] walked his opposite” (mice, pg.2). Consequently, over the years George and Lennie created such a bond that they completed each other. Through George, Steinbeck represents the sacrifices that are made in the best interest of a loved one. These sacrifices presented George with many hardships and frustrations throughout his life. “If I was alone I could live so easy.” (mice, pg. 11) Because Lennie was unable to think in a logical manner for himself, George gave up his own dreams and created a single dream for both himself and Lennie: “OK, someday we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we’ll just say the hell with goin’ to work, and we’ll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an’ listen to the rain comin’ down on the roof. (mice, pg.14)

Little by little George gave up everything that mattered to him to ensure the safety and happiness of Lennie. George exposed himself and acted as a shield to protect him. “You do bad things and I got to get you out. You crazy son-of-a- bitch. You keep me in hot water all the time.” (mice, pg.11) When George kills Lennie in the conclusion of Of Mice and Men, he also loses a part of himself. He ended Lennie’s life to protect him from the miserable life he was about to face. To kill Lennie was in the best interest of both George and Lennie: “He ain’t no good to you. An’ he ain’t no good to himself.” (mice, pg.44) Pulling the trigger on his companion, his best friend, his other half, was the greatest gift George could ever give him. He made sure that his last thoughts were blissful ones: “Look down there across the river, like you can almost see the place {their dream}”. (mice, pg.106) Because of the powerful bond between George and Lennie, George was driven to surpass the limits of friendship. “I believe everything you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that’s bad, I’m going to suffer for it. But in my heart, I believe what i’m doing is right. So I feel like i’m going to heaven. (Tupac Amur Shakur). This illustrates the conflicting feelings that George was going through. He knew it was “bad” to kill Lennie. But in his heart he knew it was right and that he was doing Lennie a favour and would be forgiven, be it by god, or Lennie.

Steinbeck uses George and Lennie to metaphorically represent powerful human relationships that go far beyond friendship. The human race is continuously searching for a connection of the soul, like the one George and Lennie had. If it is not through the bond of friendship, then they are looking to satisfy this need through their relationships with lovers, or parents and children. To find such a bond often takes many years, decades or a lifetime. In many cases it is never truly found. If and when one does end this type of relationship and it is threatened, one will attempt to preserve it even if it means through drastic measures.

On a much larger scale, Steinbeck depicts the compassion felt between men all over the world through the social structure of the migrants in The Grapes of Wrath. The migrant people, while devastated by hunger and poverty, always found a way to reach out to others and keep on giving. While not intentionally searching for one, the migrant people were given a common bond; they were given the drive to survive: “Why Tom – us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone. Why Tom, we’re the people that live. They ain’t gonna wipe us out. Why, we’re the people – we go on. (Grapes, pg.280)

These migrant people went far above and beyond the call of duty. They reached beyond their immediate family’s needs in order to help others. Food rations were small and jobs were scarce, but the limitations were surpassed by the unselfish nature of thousands of men fighting the same battle. For example, Ma Joad rationed her family’s food into even smaller portions so that she would have some leftovers to feed the starving children: “I can’t send ‘em away. I’ll let them have what’s lef’.” (Grapes, pg.257). Likewise, jobs were steadily decreasing. Yet, once again Steinbeck created characters who would transcend these limits: “Maybe I shouldn’t, but- yeah, i’ll tell ya. Fella came through an’ he says they’s gonna be work up norht.” (Grapes, pg. 259). Although the man knew telling others about work could potentially decrease his pay that he so desperatly needed, he sacrifices for his fellow man so that he too could eat. As much as one is moved by the small of these people througout the novel, the ending still comes as shock. It is an example of one of the most moving and generous acts that a person is capable of doing: ” She moved slowly to the bed and stood looking down at the wasted face, into the wide frightened eyes. Then slowly she lay down beside him. He shook his head slowly from side to side. Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket and bared her breast. “You got to.” She said. She squirmed closer and pulled his head close. “There.” She said. “There.” (Grapes, pg. 455).

Rose of Sharon gives the old starving man the gift she could not give her baby; she gave the old man life.

Steinbeck uses the powerful friendship of George and Lennie and the social structure of the Migrants to depict the limitless stretches one would go for his fellow man once a deep connection has been made. In The Grapes of Wrath, he presents this idea on a large scale, with a large group of people who bond closely through compassion, sympathy and the desire to survive. On the other hand, in Of Mice and Men, he presents one’s dedication to his fellow man on a more personal level. Steinbeck brings the nature of humanity to the spotlight and exposes the fierce values it posesses.



Of mice and men. john steinbeck.

Grapes of Wrath. John steinbeck


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