We are introduced to the story being set ‘a few miles south of Soledad’

We are introduced to the story being set ‘a few miles south of Soledad’, which straight away fixes a tone of loneliness. Being alone and isolated is a prominent theme in the story. This idea is being foreshadowed before even being introduced to the main characters. In the novella ‘Of Mice and Men’, Steinbeck shows that ‘they walked in single file’ down the narrow path and when they came into the open, ‘one stayed behind the other’, this straightaway illustrates that Steinbeck depicts the protagonists, George and Lennie as a parent-child relationship between them; George being given the parental role while Lennie being the child who is mentally incompetent. We can infer that George is influential in this relationship; therefore, Lennie is somewhat irresponsible, dependent and lacks the capability of looking after himself. Furthermore, when being introduced to George and Lennie, it shows that they’re together which instantly juxtaposes the idea of isolation. Steinbeck presents a relationship during a period where people were usually on their own and when it was a time of struggle and hardship, because of the ‘Dust Bowl’ and ‘The Great Depression’. George and Lennie being affected by this made them itinerant workers as they went from ranch to ranch trying to get a job.
At the start of the book George and Lennie’s relationship is stable as they have a mutual understanding between each other. This is shown in chapter one; George’s power and control is shown as his ‘hand remained outstretched imperiously’. This suggests that George has prince like powers and he’s dominant. George’s authority is further shown when he ‘snapped his fingers sharply …. Lennie laid the mouse in his hand’. Lennie doesn’t always comply George’s commands as he is ‘like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to its master’. This implies that Lennie is hesitant, defiant and recalcitrant just like an unschooled dog. This also shows why the author has closely referred Lennie to animals throughout the story. Additionally, Lennie is irresolute and vague as he ‘approached, drew back, approached again’. The sentence structure used such as the commas show the inner conflict of Lennie pausing as he considers his action – whether or not to give the mouse and the consequences of either choice. This also shows the fractures in their relationship, the idea that it isn’t smooth. When Lennie finally ‘laid the mouse in his hand’, it demonstrates that there is a clear understanding between each other as there was no tantrum and Lennie was submissive. This also expresses that his weakness is superiority because at the end he couldn’t overthrow George and win as he ended up giving the mouse. Overall, we can decipher George’s attitude and that he has princelike power and non-verbal power as there is no conversation shown by the author as Steinbeck uses adverbs such as ‘snapped’, ‘sharply’, ‘imperiously’ which imply George’s anger or frustration with Lennie and the cyclical motion they go through every day when Lennie doesn’t do as he is told. George doesn’t need to say it anymore as he has said it so many times, Lennie knows what George wants. This also shows the closeness between a parent-child relationship. The author is trying to make us feel uncomfortable with George and pitiful for Lennie. Steinbeck describes Lennie as a ‘terrier’ (who are fierce dogs) to exhibit the fact that, although Lennie has a small mental capacity, he can be nasty and dangerous, and he could also misuse the strength he has by losing control just like a ‘terrier’. This connotes a pet-owner relationship between George and Lennie.

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