Set in the farmlands of the Salinas Valley in California, "Of Mice And Men" is based on the 1930's Great Depression. This novel shows the struggle of two migrant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small in fulfilling the 'American dream'. The dream shared by many of owing "a little house and a couple of acres". From the onset of the novel, it becomes crystal clear that Lennie is heavily reliant on his companion, George. What's more, Steinbeck portrays the two by juxtaposing them to a father and son figure. In this assessment, I plan to clearly deconstruct and explore some of the ways Steinbeck leads up to George's final decision to shoot Lennie.
The beginning of the novel reveals the Salinas River to be tranquil and peaceful. This becomes clearly evident when Steinbeck describes the "twinkling" water, hopping rabbits and the "deep and so crisp", recumbent leaves. By using this choice of vocabulary, Steinbeck is able to create a bright and joyful feel to the atmosphere. Furthermore, Steinbeck portrays the scene to be like the Garden of Eden but it seems to be too good to be true.
Through the first page, Steinbeck cleverly foreshadows the final chapter. Subsequently when the reader reaches the final chapter, they realise that the opening of chapter six repeats the onset of the novel. The image of the sun "climbing up to slopes of the Gabilan mountains" seems like the return to paradise.
However, the reader soon realises that this paradise is lost. The snake that glides through the water without harm at the beginning, is "plucked " and "swallowed" by the "motionless heron" in chapter six. Via this event, Steinbeck foreshadows Lennie's upcoming death and symbolises the predatory nature of the world. In addition, by using the snake, Steinbeck concludes the story of Eden. The snake is juxtaposed to the forces of evil which caused the fall of humanity.
As chapter 1 proceeds, Lennie's forgetfulness is clearly expressed. During the conversation between George and Lennie, Lennie thinks that he has lost his work card but George has it. Through this happening, Steinbeck illustrates Lennie's forgetfulness and simple mindedness. It is as if he is incapable of looking after even the most basic things such as his own work card.
Moreover, Lennie is unable to control his own strength and this leads to him killing mice as he pets them too hard. This results in George quoting, "You always kill' em". The reader gets the impression that this could lead to future problems if an incident like in 'Weed' occurred.
Due to the happening in 'Weed', George instructs Lennie to "Hide in the Brush" if he gets into trouble. By doing this, Steinbeck is able to give an insight into the future and make trouble seem inevitable to the reader. This technique is known as foreshadowing and it becomes clearly apparent as the chapter continues.
In the next chapter, Steinbeck presents further characters in the novel very craftily to reveal their impacts on the main characters. An...