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Of Mice and Men: Themes

Dreams and reality, human fragility, loneliness and protest in Steinbeck's novel, i live a sad life...........

Sophia Miller

on 12 February 2015

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Transcript of Of Mice and Men: Themes

LONELINESS Affects many of the characters: Candy, Crooks, Curley's wife
George plays solitaire- a game for 1
They all declare their loneliness , showing their desperation
Candy comforted by his dog - but dog dies
Curley's wife is in a loveless relationship (only time seen with Curley is when dead) and trapped on a ranch with people who will not speak to her - her loneliness is eventually what kills her
Crooks - ostracised because of his skin colour
Important characteristic of the life the men lead
Friendship seems to be unheard of
George and Lennie struggle against this by sticking together
Commented on that this is strange by Slim, Curley and the Boss
Lennie's need to stroke things -> need to feel secure, not alone
Steinbeck shows loneliness as an unavoidable part of human life - at least in 1930s America, a time of general unhappiness and economic recession DREAMS AND REALITY HUMAN FRAGILITY AND POWERLESSNESS Steinbeck puts across the idea that humanity is small and powerless and individuals leave little or no lasting mark on the world (title, emph. on nature)
He tells a sad story of people who struggle for fulfillment in a harsh world, only for their dreams to be abruptly ripped away
This is shown in the deaths of Lennie, Curley's wife and Candy's dog
The characters are often fated (Lennie, Curley's wife) or underdogs
Lennie has no control over his strength - he has physical power, but this is too his weakness
George is effectively powerless over what Lennie does as he cannot order him around every hour of the day
Crooks is powerless when it comes to the racial prejudice he is subjected
Crooks and Curley's wife, the weakest characters seek to tease others to make themselves feel more powerful PROTEST AND PREJUDICE Of Mice and Men handles many social and politial issues: notably the racial prejudice as well as the treatment of old and disabled people in society
Candy and Crooks are both isolated - Candy lives in fear of being dismissed, and Crooks is denied companionship because of his colour (despite being an intelligent, skilled man)
This theme links in with the one of loneliness
Also adds to the overall theme of human fragility - the men live in a society where they will never make their mark on the world and are relatively powerless as to the life they lead
Also no place for women: only 1 woman, not given a name and portrayed as a trouble-causer FRIENDSHIP + RELATIONSHIPS Fulfilling relationships are few and far between in the novel
The men can't understand G+L's relationship
Curley and his wife do not get along
Candy and his dog are separated half way through the novel
G+L are an exception - but Lennie dies at end
Happiest characters those who aren't in relationships
The men idealise a brotherly relationship where they protect each other - exemplified by dream
Steinbeck may be indicating the futility of relationships A 1937 novella by John Steinbeck Key Themes in Of Mice and Men George and Lennie dream of a farm where they work for themselves
This draws in Candy and even Crooks
All they wish for is a place to call home - shows harshness of life, they struggle to make their mark in the world
Curley's wife dreams of being a movie star
Curley's dream of being a boxer
The ranch hands are inspired by the cowboys they see in their magazines
Everyone has a dream, but
none of them seem real The American Dream L+G have a stereotypical American dream. They dream that they will find happiness and fulfillment and be free to live as they choose. As the book progresses we see that this is unlikely to ever be true. Their ranch lifestyle was about to end when the book was written, and thanks to the Great Depression there was no land to be had. Their dream was over before they even thought of it.Through the failed hopes of his characters, Steinbeck represents the futility and impossibility of the American dream. PLUS: NAMES Some names are ironic (Lennie Small, Candy)
Curley's wife has no name-she wants recognition and attention, the opposite of which her anonymity in the novel provides
Soledad: means loneliness
Weed: something unwanted/nasty
Of Mice and Men: comes from Burns poem saying that all plans fail and happiness is rare, sets story up for tragedy
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