The first chapter of “Of Mice and Men” Essay
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John Steinbeck in the first chapter of “Of Mice and Men” attempts to make the setting appear as paradise or as the Garden of Eden. Yet, later in this play the paradise changes into the opposite of what it was and many of the descriptions are foreshadowing, for example, the dead mouse in Lennies pocket represents the fate of people who are in the dark or are weak. In these ways, he attempts to use the paradise setting to catalyze the storyline into the final chapter where most of the descriptions show a predatory and fierce world.
The many clues on the setting suggest the location was set in the era of the great depression in the USA. For example, Lennie and George carry their bed rolls and indicate that they do not have a permanent location to stay and sleep at showing that many of them were not very wealthy. Also jobs offered are very temporary as George and Lennie leave one job to another and are not usually permanent as employment was also scarce in the Great Depression.
There was also very little transportation during that time as George and Lennie cannot get far enough into their location and have to walk. Eventually when George and Lennie arrive in the pristine natural environment it appears like the Garden of Eden. The area sounds like paradise with rabbits and wildlife giving it full of hope and thus the readers are uplifted. Yet, he does this specifically because he wants them to fall at such a height in order to show the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The protagonists of the story are George and Lennie and could be likened to Adam and Eve. You could say this because Eve was very innocent like Lennie while Adam was dragged into doom because of Eve like Lennie and George in the final chapter. Furthermore, their personalities heavily contrast as George appears as careful, wary and thin while Lennie is clumsy, large and innocent. Yet, while together they appear as a symbiotic relationship and always work together as George is used to get away with the problem in their lives and does most of the thinking while Lennie does the work needed for employment. The relationship they have between them is also of parent and child with George taking care of Lennie and Lennie appearing always as innocent as unsuspecting like a child.
The writer sets three themes in the first chapter: companionship, the American Dream and prejudice. The pair heavily depends on each other and continuously in the story; Crooks and other characters always talk about how companionship is more important than anything like not being in the dark. Also there is a recurrent theme of the American dream and although humble and very simple it always seems hard to achieve it during the story. In addition, there are clues constantly in the novel that they will not achieve the dream of having a place of their own because Lennie and his temptations keep ruining it.
The next theme is of prejudice; most of the people in the story are at the fringes of society and are usually wanted or degenerates. For example, in the story Crooks the African American is badly treated while Curleys wife doesnt even have a name to represent the discrimination they suffered. Also people like Candy who are disabled are always forced into decisions and are treated unfairly. Although the fact that the whole story behind it is of the downfall of Adam and Eve it wouldnt count as a theme but is fully represented in the story with people like George and Lennie replacing Adam and Eve.
In conclusion, the combination of characters, the setting and the themes all are used to lead to the downfall representing the downfall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
sparknotes.comOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck