The Significance of the Opening in Of Mice and Men
The novel opening is scene setting; Steinbeck wrote it with lots of
descriptive words with many colour words, "yellow sands" and "white,
recumbent limbs." The first page concentrates on natural beauty, with
no mention of anything man-made. The beginning of the text must be
calm and peaceful to contrast with the more violent and upsetting end.
The opening scene is important and stressed upon so that when it is
used again at the end you can see that the novel is cyclical.
Steinbeck makes the scene easily recognisable by talking about the
"Gabilon Mountains" and "Salinas River." The landscape is constant and
permanent and the same imagery is used again even after so much has
changed in the characters' lives.
In the novella, there are two main paragraphs in which Steinbeck
describes nature, the first paragraph in the first chapter and the
first paragraph in the last chapter. These two paragraphs contrast a
lot and show the way George and Lennie's relationship is heading
throughout the story. These two paragraphs are almost total opposites
but do contain some sentences that are near enough the same, but put
in to the context relating to George and Lennie's relationship
The fact that there are so many animals there, such as the heron and
the rabbits suggests that the place is a safe haven for every living
thing including "the boys coming down from the highway." It is this
safe place where George tells Lennie to go to when he is in trouble.
Steinbeck uses anaphoric references throughout the novel with rabbits
being rabbits being one of the most important; the rabbits represent
George and Lennie's dream. They dream of owning their own land and
farm where Lennie can tend rabbits and they can "live off the fatta
the lan." Rabbits appear constantly throughout the text, beginning in
the opening paragraph.
The opening of the text is approximately 1 day long, which compared to
the four day long text is quite a long time. The first section
therefore is quite important. You see many contrasts in the first
part: George V Lennie, nature V man and peace V intrusion.
It is this opening scene where we first meet George and Lennie. "Two
men wandered up from the highway, their entrance disturbing the peace
and harmony of the deep, green forest. They approached in single file,
one behind the other." Immediately it is obvious that George is the
leader of the duo. Lennie follows George's lead, "even in the open."
They are dressed identically, both wearing "denim trousers and denim
coats with brass buttons." From first impressions, it seems that the
two are remarkably alike until Steinbeck physically describes them.
George is a small, defined man, "quick and dark of face, with restless
eyes and sharp, strong features. Lennie on the other hand...