The Forgotten Character Essay

1670 words - 7 pages

Poised to fly through the air, to finally let go, Ethan and Mattie cling to their last hope of being together. The landscape is still, the snow settled from hours of continuous falling, and they glide down the hill to their inevitable doom. Pages away, two lifelong friends stand in a gentle clearing with a pond lazily pooling about, as they say their final words just before the ring of a gun. Edith Wharton’s, Ethan Frome, takes readers back to the late 1800’s in Starkfield, Massachusetts. Ethan is a simple farmer burdened with a wife who insists she is sick whenever a slight sneeze escapes her. His dull, inescapable life brightens at the appearance of his cousin-in-law, Mattie, who comes to take care of the house. As the two lovers slowly descend into a darkness of their own creation, they do not take note of the warnings that surround them. In an entirely different kind of tragedy, John Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men, follows the quiet lives of George and Lennie who have finally found jobs on a ranch after forceful measures were taken to run them out of their old ones. One big and dumb, the other small and clever, these two friends find themselves on opposite ends of a gun with only one option; pulling the trigger. Both novels use setting to illustrate that place not only reflects one’s emotions, it also greatly dictates one’s future, as it can either stifle or encourage one’s dreams and aspirations, demonstrating the enormous role it has in any book.

Setting, in both books, works as another character, mimicking the emotions and characteristics that the characters themselves possess. Steinbeck provides readers with the simple description, "Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted,” to subtly suggest the connection between location and people (17).The plainness of the lives that Lennie and George’s fellow ranchers endure is reflected here. The plain walls and unfinished floor show the life of the characters and how they feel about their situation as overworked and underpaid hands on the ranch. In another scene, a tranquil landscape is laid before George where "On one side of the of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees... on the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and crisp” and he tells Lennie, “‘I want you to come right here and hide in the brush’" (Steinbeck 1, 15). The importance of the clearing is prominent in these quotes, showing how it will be the place where they meet when one is in trouble because the clearing is a dependable and loving place for them to go. This intentionally demonstrates how much they depend on each other as they make plans so they can always find one another. The choice for their meeting place is described as a wonderland of sorts, providing a safe haven for the two characters if anything should come up. Having resided in Starkfield for a while, the narrator “Had seen this...

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