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The use of light and dark in Of Mice and Men

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Clare Keightley

on 12 January 2016

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Transcript of The use of light and dark in Of Mice and Men

The use of light and dark in Of Mice and Men
How does Steinbeck use the symbols of light and dark in this extract? What is he implying about the role of women?
Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A girl was standing there looking in. She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers. ‘I’m lookin’ for Curley,’ she said. Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality.
....................
She was suddenly apprehensive. ‘Bye, boys,’ she called into the bunk house, and she hurried away.

George looked around at Lennie. ‘Jesus, what a tramp,’ he said. ‘So that’s what Curley picks for a wife.’
How do I approach this question?
Annotate the text.
Consider the language techniques used: semantic field, connotation, possessive apostrophe, simile, mild expletives....
How does Steinbeck use characterisation?
What do the symbols of light and dark suggest?
Consider....
Like the use of animals and animal imagery to a certain effect in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck also uses the imagery of light and darkness as a significant pattern or motif throughout the novella. Steinbeck uses this technique because of the connotations we association with darkness and light and links these images to key characters, plot events, and locations in his fiction.
Symbols
Light - when is this used in the text? What does it represent?


Darkness - when is this used in the text? What does it represent?
Example response
Firstly, Steinbeck uses light and dark throughout his novella to symbolise certain events and characters. The reading immediately makes associations with light, hope, and dark, danger. In the extract, Curley's wife is introduced to the reader and to George and Lennie,
"Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off."
By describing George and Lennie as "both men" simultaneously glancing up serves to continue to establish how close the two men are. The reader has already become familiar with how they differ from other ranch hands and, despite the Great Depression, the two represent hope and solidarity. They were introduced to us in light thus the reader makes the connection with goodness. However, in introducing Curley's wife......


How is light used when Curley's wife dies? What does this imply about the role of women at the time?
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