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How Does John Stienbeck Create Tension in Chapter 2 Essay

Chapter two consists with George and Lennie starting work at a new farm. They meet the other ranch workers and the boss’s aggressive son Curley, and also his wife who comes into the bunk house and flirts with George an Lennie. As soon as Lennie glances at Curley’s wife, he is instantly attracted to her and George is worried by this. George makes Lennie promise to meet him by the pool if there is any trouble. For example , in weed when Lennie felt the little girls dress. Another character they meet is slim, he is in charge of the horses and also he is a man with natural authority. There are two separate styles of writing in of mice and men; descriptive style and dialogue. The dialogue in ‘Of Mice and Men’ is very realistic. Steinbeck tried to imitate the way the ranch workers spoke. He could have had George say (page35)’ I have seen women like this before, but I have never seen one as worse as a woman that has been put in jail.’ As it is , he has George say ‘ I seen’ em poison before , but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her.’

The language of Steinbeck’s characters is written down in a way that allows you almost to hear the characters speaking and also their actions. Steinbeck spells words that reflects how illiterate some of the characters are. He also spells words like that, to reflect how they sound in the mouths of ordinary people not how the words appear in a dictionary. One of the techniques Steinbeck used was to leave the beginning and end off words. For example Steinbeck writes “an” for “and”, “jus” for “just”, “gonna” for “going to do something..” Steinbeck tends to start a chapter in a descriptive style, he often incorporates the natural beauty of the setting and the fertility of the land. (chapter 1) ‘ a few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to hillside bank.’ whereas in this chapter, a description of the bunk house is given, it lacks comfort. ‘ Inside the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted.’ This is a starch contrast with the previous scene.

The detailed description of the setting is always the place in which the action happens. In the novel tension is created through a series of ominous signs. I have noticed a particular order in which it is created in . Anger , then a calmer atmosphere which is then broken by anger , rage or confusion. Tension, anxiety and rage is created when Curley ( the boss’s son) enters the room. ‘he glanced coldly’ this suggests that he is unfriendly and a threat. ‘ he stiffened his fists…his glance was at once calculating and pugnacious.’ when Curley stiffened his firsts, this showed that he was looking for a fight , the readers already know that he is an aggressive character and confronts people with this. ‘

He hates big guys. He’s alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he’s mad at’em because he aint a big guy.’ The readers suddenly realise that there would be a future problem with Lennie and Curley, further on in the novel. Curley seems set on proving that he is a big man, in all but size. His success in the past as a boxer is an obsession, so every person Curley meets is a possible opponent. He sees life and everyone he faces as a competition. Curley’s authority on the ranch triggers tension as most of the ranch hands are frightened of him and do not want to confront him as there would be trouble. During chapter two, my sympathy fell towards the stable buck, Crook.

He is a victim of racial prejudice. the way Candy gossiped about Crook to George and Lennie was unjust ,they would normally refer to Crook as ‘the nigger’. Nowadays that is a racial offence. They way Candy said that Crook has no respect he was the lowest of the low. ‘Nice fella too. Got a crooked back where a horse kicked him. The boss gives him hell when he’s mad. But the stable buck don’t give a damn about that.’ Despite Crook being discriminated against, he is a proud, independent and intelligent as he reads a lot. But none of these admirable features stop the boss from giving him ‘hell’. As he is not a respected character and he has no authority.


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