The Use Animals To Show The Main Themes In Of Mice And Men

1273 words - 5 pages

How does Steinbeck use animals to show the main themes in Of Mice and
Men?

This story is about two men (George and Lennie) and their desperate
hope in that they will raise enough money so that they can purchase a
plot of land and “live of the fatta the land”. In this essay I will
discuss how Steinbeck uses animals to show the themes of, friendship/loneliness,
anger/violence, cruelty/kindness and dreams. The main points that I
will be discussing are, how Lennie connects with animals, how
Steinbeck portrays loneliness through animals, how the American dream
fuels and directs the story, how Crooks is treated like an animal and
has animal instincts himself, how killing of animals foreshadows the
story, how Steinbeck uses animals to symbolize or reflect different
emotions the characters are experiencing and the way Lennie is killed
at the end which summarises that Lennie connects with animals in the
most devastating way.

At the beginning of the story Lennie is drinking from the pool as
though he is an animal. “Drank with big long gulps, snorting into the
water like a horse”, this straight away reveals to us that Lennie has
animal instincts. When Lennie and George arrive at the ranch,
immediately Curley begins to show aggression towards Lennie as an
animal would do to protect it’s territory, Curley tries to bait Lennie
into having confrontation with him. This is the same technique people
use to catch animals and that is exactly what Curley is trying to
achieve with Lennie.

An important style of how Steinbeck represents people and themes is
through rabbits and example of this is, at the beginning of the story
Lennie and George are fleeing from their home town. This is shown by
the rabbits as they are fleeing themselves, “The rabbits hurried
noiselessly for cover”. Steinbeck compares the animals to people very
early on in the story, which gives you an idea that Steinbeck will
compare the characters and themes through animals throughout the
story.

A main theme that Steinbeck portrays through animals is Loniness. In “Of
Mice and Men”, Candy’s dog represents the fate awaiting anyone who has
outlived his or her purpose. Once a fine sheepdog, useful on the
ranch, Candy’s mutt is now debilitated by age. ”Well – Hell! I had him
so long. Had him since he was a pup. I herded sheep with him. He said
proudly”. Candy’s sentimental attachment to the animal and the fact
that he raised the dog from a puppy is his plea to Carlson to let the
dog live, however in that era and on that ranch this meant nothing.
This is because in the era in which this book was written animals were
seen as worthless if they were unable to do their job, if an animal
was unable in anyway they would have been killed immediately. Although
Carlson promises to kill the dog painlessly, his insistence that the
old animal must die supports the idea that the strong will dispose of
the weak.

A theme that really directs and fuels this story is the...

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