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Biblical Allusions of Mice and Men

Analysing the biblical allusions in Of Mice and Men.
by

Rayan Afiouni

on 20 February 2013

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Transcript of Biblical Allusions of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men Biblical Allusions Baptism Biblical Allusions in
"Of Mice and Men" Garden of Eden Temptation Curley's wife is never named Milton, who? "Am I my brother's keeper?" "that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." And a source of freshwater from the river to drink. As for man, God "put him in he garden of Eden to tend and keep it."

-Genesis 2:15 This represents Baptism because, water represents
purification and Lennie sticks his whole head in
the pond water to be purified, from his hardships. "On one side 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-willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores withe mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over he pool." The beauty of the brush area that Steinbeck describes endlessly in the first few pages is like that of the beauty of the Garden of Eden described in the Bible. Curley’s wife is symbolic of Eve –

The female character who, in the Biblical story, brings sin and death to the world by going against the word of God to fulfill her temptation. Curley's wife emerges as a symbol of temptation in OMAM which plagues the men on the ranch and causes the demise of poor Lennie. Cain and Abel were the sons of Adam and Eve. In Genesis ( the Bible), Cain draws Abel into a field and kills him out of jealousy. After this, God asked Cain where Abel was and he replied “’Am I my brother’s keeper?” suggesting he did not now of his whereabouts because he didn't 'keep' him. The reference to being "my brother's keeper" can be true for George as he is the 'keeper' of Lennie and looks after him. The only difference with this is George feels saddened about what he did to Lennie as he lost his companion, whereas Cain is not. And the LORD said unto Cain, "Where is Abel thy brother?"
And Cain said. "I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"
~Genesis 4:1-17 GEORGE: "God a'mighty if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job and work, and no trouble, no mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want." This could be a reference to the author of the poem ‘Paradise Lost’ too. By giving George the name ‘Milton’ it seems to show that he is a fallen man, doomed to loneliness wanting to return to paradise.

In John Milton’s poem it describes the fall of Adam and Eve from Eden and grace, and Satan from Heaven. This can be backed up by the fact that Steinbeck repeatedly refers to living “off the fat of the land” just like Adam and Eve did, once they were banished from Eden.

The farm in George and Lennie’s dream could be said to be their ‘paradise’ and in the end, with Lennie's death, the goal of reaching this place is lost, and George is once again sentenced to wander alone, just as Adam and Eve were. ’What’s your name?’”

“’George Milton’” –

The Boss asking George for his name Curley's wife is the only woman in the story,
and her name is never stated. This is because she is out of her place in society and to the author she doesn't deserve a name. In the Bible it states that a woman should be at home and honor her husband, but Curley's wife is never home. "What kinda harm am doin' to you? Seems like they
ain't none of them cares how i gotta live. I tell you I aint used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself." She said darkly, "Maybe i will yet." ~Curley's wife Pg. 88~ "Wives, be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wife Just as Christ is the head of the church, he himself is the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives must be subordinate to their husbands in everything." ~Ephesians 5:22~ "Lennie dipped his whole head under, hat and all, and then he sat up on the bank and his hat dripped down on his blue coat and rand down his back." JOHN Milton's "Paradise Lost" is an epic poem condemning the fall of man – it is about Adam and Eve and how they came to be created but lost their place in the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise, by sinning against God. It is the same story you find in the first pages of Genesis, expanded by Milton into a very long, detailed, narrative poem.

'Paradise Lost' shares many similarities with 'Of Mice and Men', including the actions of imperfect humans, the presence of temptation and the consequence of doing sinful things (“bad things” – Lennie) all used to help the reader relate to familiar stories The Serpent A water snake glided”

“twisting its periscope head from side to side”

- page 98 The reference to the snake is also a reference to the serpent in the story of Adam and Eve, where the snake represented Satan (source of evil) who tried to fool Eve to eat the Apple which led her and Adam to be removed from Eden.

When the snake is killed by the heron unexpectedly, it then foreshadows that Lennie is killed also without suspecting it. In a way it could be read that now the snake (the source of evil) much the same way that Lennie, (who is George's source of evil) also dies at the conclusion of the novel.

For Lennie and George, who return to the 'pool' by the brushes before Lennie is shot, this image emphasizes the tranquility and safety of the Garden of Eden. This is lost when Lennie dies. Much like the loss of Adam and Eve when they are kicked out of Eden. After killing Abel, God condemns Cain to be a “restless wanderer on Earth” and forbids anyone to kill him, as he must be punished for his sins.

In this case, it is true of George too, as it refers to Cain who is now lonely, wanting Paradise but will never reach it or have any chance of reaching it again and ironically is also condemned to a scenario described by Crooks on page 73 –

“every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it. Just like heaven Even though George and Lennie are not brothers, they are the closest to family each other has and similar to Cain and Abel, the love was very strong, yet through murder, one is left to 'wander alone' reflecting on his actions In the context of the Great Depression, why do you think that Steinbeck would use so much religious symbolism in his text?


How effective / relevant do you think the biblical allusions were to the plot?


Find some more examples or instances of Biblical allusions in the text and explain their meaning. Descriptions of Candy include:

- She had full rouged lips
- Wearing red ostrich feathers
-she wore a cotton dress and red mules

Could this imagery and constant reference to the colour RED represent the RED apple in the Garden of Eden?

Lennie takes the "Red Apple" (Curley's wife) and never attains his farm or HIS EDEN - would this be an accurate reading?
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