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Of Mice And Men

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Of Mice and Men" Critical Evaluation

I have recently read and studied in-depth the book "Of Mice and Men" by the very interesting author, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck writes in a manner that is both thought provoking and deep. This essay will talk about the book, the characters, and, in particular, the theme of loneliness, which is very prominent throughout. Steinbeck was born in 1902 and he wrote about his times and what it was like to live then. "Of Mice and Men" was published in 1937. The title refers to the famous poem by Robert Burns - "To A Mouse". It relates to the story in many ways - George and Lennie have a "scheme", and it goes "aft agley" (goes wrong), then leaves George "nought but grief and pain", for their "promis'd joy" (their plans to get a "little place". It goes along the lines of verse 7 -

"The best-laid schemes o' mice

an' men

Gang aft agley

An' lea'e us nought but grief

And pain

For promis'd joy!"

The book is set in California, near the Salinas River in the 1930s. The two main characters are George Milton and Lennie Small. The narrative begins with George and Lennie sitting around a fire in a quiet place by a river on a Thursday night. This is where we first hear of the dream the two friends share but don't really believe in. The next day, they land a job at a ranch in an attempt to raise some money towards their 'little place'. They get to know the other ranch workers and, tragically, just as they think there is a real chance of their dream coming true, it is all shattered. Lennie accidentally kills the boss' son's wife. Realising that there is no way that they can get away with murder, George decides that he should take his friend's life. George shoots his best friend on the Sunday afternoon at the same place where the novel began. This is just three days on from the beginning of the story.

George Milton and Lennie Small are the main characters.

George is thin and small. His face is sharp and well defined, which suggests he could be intelligent, quick and focused. Lennie is the exact opposite. He is large and seemingly shapeless - which suggests he might be a bit dim which is very accurate as he does have extreme learning difficulties. He might have been referred to as a "harmless idiot" or a "sad case". He is very often subtly likened to an animal, for example, Steinbeck writes "he flung himself down and drank from the surface of the green pool, snorting into the water like a horse." The two men are complete opposites in every way. George and Lennie travel together - George looks after Lennie and Lennie depends on George. This is what makes them different from other ranchers - they have someone who "gives a hoot in hell" about them - they have each other.

Other important characters are Candy, Curley's wife and Crooks, as they, in my opinion, are the loneliest.

Candy is an old swamper (cleaner), who lost a hand in an accident. He comes across as being very gossipy and nosy. He bears a great resemblance to his dog, which is so old that it "wasn't any good to himself or anyone else", so it gets taken off and shot. I think that Candy is one of the loneliest ones as he has no-one very close to him and I feel sorry for him because I think he feels left out because of his disability and the fact that he is a lot older.

Curley's wife doesn't

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