John Steinbeck was born in 1902 in Salinas california. Steinbecks novels can be classified as social novels, dealing with the economic problems of rural labour in America in the 1920s and 30s. ‘Of Mice and Men’ is set in the farmlands of the Salinas valley, the country side described in the opening chapter of the novel and the ranch itself, may have been familiar to Steinbeck as he grew up in the area where his father owned a farm. The two main themes in ‘Of Mice and Men’ are loneliness and dreams.
These themes are interwoven in that, people who are lonely have the most need of dreams to help them through life.
The lonliness theme is evident in many of the characters, Candys long time companion is his dog , ‘Had him since a pup. He said proudly’. (pg 47) He cannot bring himself to shoot the old cripped dog, even though he knows its for the best, ‘Why’n’t you shot him candy’ asks Carlson.
‘No, I couldn’t do that, I had ‘im too long’ (pg 47) With his dog gone candy will have lost his long time companion. Crooks the ‘nigger’ ranch hand lives in enforced solitude away from the other men. Here Steinbeck introduces the predudice black people encountered around the time in which the novel is set.
‘ I ain’t wanted in the bunk-house, and you ain’t wanted in my room’ Crooks tells Lennie. Although at first crooks is upset by Lennies apperance, he invites him into his room. [‘long as you wont get out and leave me alone, you might as well set down ‘] His lonliness is evident when he tells Lennie ” A guy needs somebody – to be near him” this is also evident when Candy enters the room “Come on in if everybodys coming in you might as well – it was difficult for Crooks to hide his pleasure”. (pg 79) The theme continues when we meet Curlys wife. She is the only women on the ranch.
She tries to befriend the men by hanging around the bunkhouse. When she talks with Lennie in the barn she tells Lennie ” I never get to talk to nobody, I gets awful lonely” She has married a man she doesn’t raelly love. We know this when again talking with Lennie she tells him “Well I aint told this to nobody before, I don’t like curly’ he aint a nice fella”. George and Lennie are not lonely during the novel as they have each other. George will be lonely afterwards as he will not have Lennie by his side. Lennie, because his character has a childlike innocence about him he may not fear lonileness like the others.
The only evidence we have to show Lennie has some concept of being alone is when he is with crooks and Crooks teases him that George is hurt and may not come back. “George gonna come back” ‘Lennie reassured himself in a frightened voice’ (pg 77) The other theme the novel focuses on is the ‘American dream’ Where many aspired to obtaining a better and more properous life. Many of the farm labourers during this time would have dreamt of buying their own land to work themseleves. The symbol throughout the novel for ‘the dream’ is rabbits. 2 George and Lennie share a dream – to own a little place of their own and live on it.
We are introduced to this very early on in the novel when Lennie asks George “tell me – like you done before about the rabbits” (pg 14) George tells Lennie ‘some day we gonna have a little house and a couple of acres’ and lennie will have his rabbits. Throughtout the book whenever Lennie talks about their ‘dream’ he always talks about the rabits george will get him. Candy joins them in the ‘dream’ and could help make it a reality when he offer his savings as downpayment in return for being included. Crooks dreams of being equal to the others. He is skeptical at first “you guys is just kiddin’ yourself”.
He tells Lennie and Candy “But you wont get no land” he tells them (pg 80) He rembers his childhood when his father owned a arm and he played with the white children and longs for a similar relashonship with white people again He is drawn into the dream when he hears Candy candy has some money to help buy the land. He asks ‘if the guys would want a hand to work for nothing – just his keep, why id come a lend a hand’ ( pg 81) Curlys wifes continues the theme, all be it a different ‘dream’. She has draems of leaving the farm and being in the movies She tells Lennie she met a guy that was gonna put her in the ‘pitchers’.
The novel focuses on many contrasts. George and Lennie are contrastec on the way they look and behave. Lennie is decribed as ‘a huge man, shapeless of face, with wide sloping shoulders walking heavily, we percieve him to be slow ( in mind and body). George in contrast is ‘small and quick’ with sharpe features. The more able of the two. Lennie can also be compared to several animals ‘ a bear’ , immensly strong, he is innocent and helpless like the mouse and puppy. Candy can be compared to his dog, both of them old, both of them good workers in their youth, but now worn out and past their usefulness.
The people on the ranch with power can also be contrasted. Slim who is respected for his wisdom and competence and Curly who only has power because he is the farm owners son not from respect. The Title of the book ‘OF MICE AND MEN’ comes from a poem by Robert Burns. The best laid shem Jayne Stupple Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.