Of Mice and Men Theme
Erick romero Ms. lopez English 31 October 2010 Of Mice and Men Literary Analysis There are many issues which John Steinbeck addresses in his novel Of Mice and Men, such as discrimination towards minorities such as blacks, women, and the disabled. Many of these are being steadily being resolved up to today, though, there is still one thing rooted into our minds that still persists today; the predatory nature of human beings. Of Mice and Men takes place in Soledad, California. It tells the story of two men, Lennie Small, a stout and mentally challenged, but well meaning person and George Milton, Lennie’s guardian and long time companion.
They seek to someday own a small ranch of their own. Tragically, their dream is shattered when Lennie accidentally kills a young woman, Curley’s wife. George then murders Lennie in cold blood. The theme of predatory nature and violence in this novel is expressed by symbolism and foreshadowing. One way the theme is expressed in Of Mice and Men was through foreshadowing. ‘” I’ll try to catch him,” said Curley. His eyes passed over the new men and he stopped. He glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed at the fists.
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He stiffened and went into a slight crouch. His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious. Lennie squirmed under the look and shifted his feet nervously. Curley stepped gingerly close to him. “You the new guys the old man was waitin’ [sic] for? ‘’’ (Steinbeck 27-28). From George and Lennie’s first encounter with Curley, you can infer Curley is a violent man. You can also tell that conflict will arise later in the events of the novel due to his behavior. Also, if you imagine life on a ranch, it conjures up images of tough, manly cowboys riding off into the sunset.
Stereotypes like that could arguably be one of the factors that encourage a violent environment, especially one full of men. Another way the theme of predatory nature and violence is expressed in the novel is through symbolism. “’He was so little,” said Lennie. ”I was jus’ [sic] playin’ [sic] with him… an’ he made like he’s gonna [sic] bite me an’ I made like I was gonna [sic] smack him… an’… an’ I done it. An’ then he was dead. ” She consoled him. ”Don’t you worry none [sic]. He was just a mutt. You can get another one easy.
This country is full of mutts. ” (Steinbeck 95). Because of his own weakness, Lennie failed to recognize his own strength and so he accidentally killed the puppy. The puppy symbolizes Lennie, because like him, the puppy was not aware of the predators surrounding him. This is very true, because Lennie never thought he would be murdered at the hands of his friend, George. A recurring theme, oppression not always coming from the strong, but the weak too, is another way people prey on each other. “’Well you keep your place then Nigger.
I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t [sic] even funny. ” Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, ego-nothing to arouse like or dislike. He said “Yes ma’am”, and his voice was toneless. ’ (Steinbeck 88-89). Curley’s wife, who was a minority, managed to threaten Crooks and render him helpless. Because Curley’s wife felt weak and lonely, she lashed out at Crooks, who was weaker than her. Like many others who lash out at each other whether it’s emotional, psychological, or physical, she did it because she felt weak.
Many of the characters themselves felt they had no control in their lives and others were arguably shaped by society, such as Curley’s wife threatening Crooks, and Curley’s violent nature. There is a powerful truth that Steinbeck addresses about human nature; oppression does not always come from the strong. It can be those deemed weak that prey on each other. Though at first glance the story may seem like a straightforward novel, but once you delve deeper, the use of symbolism, foreshadowing, and other motifs make John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men an American classic.