Of Mice and Men Bunkhouse vs. Nature

Compare Steinbeck’s treatment of the natural world with his depiction of the bunkhouse in the first two chapters of Of Mice and Men (1937) The first two chapters of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men (1937) present the contrasting environments of a Salinas riverbank and the ranch bunkhouse. The natural world is depicted as a large an unlimited environment. “On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains” (p. 3).

When Steinbeck uses the description of the slopes curving up to the Gabilan Mountains, he is telling the reader that there is a large distance between the bank of the Salinas River and the Galiban Mountains. As the sound of the word “curving” is gentle, and kind to the ear, it suggests that the incline is also gentle, and as Mountains are always over 10,000 feet, this also portrays the vast expanse of the “golden foothill slopes”. In contrast, the bunkhouse is portrayed as a very small and restricted domain. “The Bunkhouse was a long, rectangular building. ” (p. 9) This may be because Steinbeck had previous experience of working on ranches, and found it claustrophobic, limited and deterring. One major theme used in the book “Of Mice And Men” is nature. This theme is used at the start of the book, for various reasons. Nature is interlinked with imagery, used on a range of occasions within the first two chapters. Both nature and imagery are in cooperation with each other to bring up hints of future events, or to create a mood, and even to predestine Lennie and George’s future in the novel. “‘I ain’t sure its good water,’ he said ‘looks kinda scummy. ’” (p. ) In the book two paragraphs focus on nature, the first paragraph in the first chapter and the first paragraph in the last chapter. These two paragraphs contrast immensely and in a way show how George and Lennie’s destiny is heading throughout the story. These two paragraphs are almost total opposites but do contain some sentences that are near enough the same, but put into the context relating to George and Lennie’s dreams. For instance, “Already the sun had left the valley” (p. 98), is in great contrast with the phrase, “The golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains” (p. ), this distinction between both phrases, and the great use of imagery which is interlinked with the theme of nature, makes us realise how there was hope at the start of the book, but that all that hope was broken down by the end of the book. The sun leaving the valley reflects the idea of dreams that have flown away, however, the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains ties into the idea that, although it will be hard to reach that dream, there is some faith because the mountains are “foothill” (p. 3), or in other words, reachable.

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