Section One: Themes
Theme One: Hopelessness
Hopelessness is not a common theme in novels, mostly because it is hard to write a hopeless novel that can still hold a reader’s interest. Nevertheless, John Steinbeck was able to successfully write Of Mice and Men, a hopeless book from the start, but it still remains one of the most popular stories ever written. Steinbeck creates the illusion of hope by introducing their dream in the first chapter. However, it is hinted at that this will not ever be achieved, on page seven, “Lennie looked puzzled. ‘Like I done in Weed?’ ‘Oh, so you forgot that too? Well, I ain’t gonna remind ya, fear ya do it again.’”. George is speaking in the second half of the quote, and is foreshadowing that the events in Weed are bound to reoccur. Other hints throughout the book also strengthen this statement, but this is the first we come across. Once we see how Lennie is such a problem to society, through the events in Weed, it is apparent that they can never reach their dream. Because Lennie is holding back George, they cannot move forward far enough in life to live by themselves. From the beginning we know that Lennie must either go through a significant character change, or must be removed from society. It is a hopeless situation because we, as readers, are hopeful for Lennie-George continuum to succeed more than anything. Once Lennie moves out of the picture, our hope is lost. Even if Lennie were to change his character instead of dying, it would have the same effect because readers love Lennie as a child, not an adult.
Of Mice and Men is the only tragedy that has been studied this year, therefore the only containing the theme of hopelessness. However, the theme of hope can also be found in
Theme Two: Dreams
Dreams are important parts of our lives; they give meaning and motive to everything we do. In the novel Of Mice and Men, we can see how dreams have affected the lives of George and Lennie and the people around them. While dreams are important, it is more important to keep a proper distance from them. For instance, George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm falls apart. Realistically, this could not have been avoided; however it could have saved George and Lennie much pain if they did not get so close to achieving it. The closer someone gets to achieving something, the larger impact your mistakes have. For example, towards the end of the novel, after Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife, George’s only option was to ‘put down’ Lennie. These series of events destroyed their dream and simultaneously destroyed what George and Lennie are. When the thought of achieving their dream was unfathomably far away, they could blow past their mistakes without much thought. This is because their passion for their dream overwhelmed any morals or common sense they had. The closer they came, the less exciting it became.
Section 3: Journals
Journal 1: Pathos in Writing
Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men is a good example of how to...