How Does Steinbeck Create Tension in Section 5?

Categories: John Steinbeck

Steinbeck creates tension in Section 5 through sound and emotion.

While Lennie was in the barn minding his own business, panicking about killing the puppy, Curley's wife entered. _"She came very quietly so that Lennie didn't see her"_ this makes the reader feel worried as to why she came in so soundlessly, and question to if she is up to something.

When Lennie and her get into a conversation, she begins to grow very angry at Lennie as he mentions that he isn't allowed to talk to her because of orders he had been given, and when her emotion does suddenly turn to this, it makes you feel sorry for Lennie, and the tension builds as the reader doesn't know how much she will lash out.

It is very well described that whenever the clang of horseshoes from outside the barn from the other men playing a game, the entire barn goes silent. No matter what conversation Lennie and Curley's wife are having, they instantly go quiet.

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This separates the reader and character from the barn to make them acknowledge the outside world.

Curleys wife soon comes to know that Lennie likes feeling textures, and so tells him to stroke her hair for it is very soft… This makes the reader worry as to previous knowledge of Lennie and the girl in weed. When Curleys wife starts to get angry as he is messing up her hair, he panics and holds on tighter. _"Lennie's fingers closed on her hair and hung on"_ This makes the reader feel sorry for Curleys wife as most people know how painful it is when someone pulls on your hair, also the fact Lennie is very strong.

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_"She struggled violently under his hands" "Her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie has broken her neck"_ When the reader realises she is dead it causes them to worry for not only Curleys wife but for Lennie as he didn't kill her intentionally and he could get into a lot of trouble for it.

_"For the first time, Lennie became conscious of the outside"_ this shows how terrified Lennie really is as he is always in his own little world and it is clearly shown throughout the book that he never takes notice of what others are doing and only what he wants to do… When he remembers what George told him about hiding in the bush if he gets in trouble, it makes the reader hope he has a chance and that George will remember to go and find him there.

The way Steinbeck uses description also causes a lot of tension for the reader. _"It was very quiet in the barn"_ as Curley's wife is dead it blends in with the atmosphere of what has happened.

When candy and George are talking in the barn and have realised what has happened, it is all very tense then as well as the reader is so desperate to know what is going to happen. "Outside the noise of the game stopped. There was a rise of voices in question, a drum of running fee and the men burst into the barn." During the time of all the men being in the barn, George was quite quiet, he never usually is. Usually he is cursing and being moody, this shows the readers he is worried and not feeling his usual self.

"I'm gonna shoot the guns outta that big bastard myself" Knowing that lots of men want to kill Lennie creates a lot of tension as the reader doesn't know whether they will be able to or not…

In conclusion, Steinbeck uses emotions and sounds to create the tension made in Section 5.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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How Does Steinbeck Create Tension in Section 5?. (2016, Aug 07). Retrieved from

How Does Steinbeck Create Tension in Section 5? essay
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