Critical Analysis Of Steinbeck

’s Of Mice And Men Essay, Research Paper

In Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” the characters struggle with loneliness and loss of dreams. These themes are highlighted by the use of parallels that tie the novel together. The relationship between Candy and his dog parallels that which exists between George and Lennie. There are also parallels between the outcasts and Lennie which emphasize the pain of lonliness. The opening scene mirros the final scene.

The relationship between Candy and his dog parallels that which exists between George and Lennie. To the men who live in the bunkhouse, Candy’s dog is nothing more than a “dragfooted sheep dog, gray of muzzle,…with pale, blind old eyes,” (p. 24) but Candy sees him as a companion. To George, Lennie is more than a “big guy” (p. 25) who can’t speak for himself. On the ranch Lennie is suspected to be of no value because of his lack of intelligence, and Candy’s dog is thought to be of no importance because he has no teeth, can hardly see and can’t eat. The dog is “no good to [Candy]” (p. 44) and he is “no good to himself” (p. 44). After Lennie kills Curley’s wife, he’s no good to George or himself. Carlson’s luger, which is used to shoot Candy’s dog in the back of the head, is also used by George to shoot Lennie in the back of the head. Slim had said earlier that he wished “somebody’d shoot [him] if [he] got old an’ a cripple” (p. 45) and he also acknowledges that George has to shoot Lennie, telling him that he “hadda” (p.107). Both Candy’s dog and Lennie are killed out of love. Candy feels that his dog no longer needs to suffer and George never wants Lennie to suffer for a crime he did not mean to commit.

The parallels that exist between the outcasts and Lennie emphasize the harsh pain of loneliness. Crooks tries to shut out another outcast, telling Lennie that “[he] ain’t wated in the bunkhouse and [Lennie] ain’t wanted in [his] room” (p. 68). Curley’s wife, an outcast herself, sees Crooks, Lennie, and Candy as “a nigger an’ a dum-dum and a lousy ol’ sheep” (p. 78), but she is not even wanted there with them. All the outcasts have been left at the ranch while the other go into town. This further shows their separation from all the ranch.

The opening scene of the book mirrors its final scene. In the beginning the pastoral settin symbolizes the opportunity and hope that lie before George and Lennie, while at the end of the story the calm setting is a reflection of a find of heaven. Lennie’s blissful ignorance is present both times. A heron and a periscope-like snake are there in the beginning and the end. George speaks of his living off the fat of the land in both instances to pacify Lennie. The rabbit motif is seen in the beginning and the end, but its meaning has turned. In the opening Lennie wants to tend rabbits, and in the end the giant rabbit crushes his dreams by telling him that he is not good enough. The opening scene is an exact reflection of the closing scene, yet this time the dream has been crushed.


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