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Naturalism in the novel OF MICE AND MEN

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Austin Baker

on 31 January 2014

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Transcript of Naturalism in the novel OF MICE AND MEN

What is naturalism?
Naturalism in the novel OF MICE AND MEN
John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men has many different characteristics of the Naturalistic period. First, the use of natural imagery (as seen in both the opening and closing chapters of the novel) is typical of the genre. Second, the characters depicted in the text are common (simple ranch-hands who face typical problems). Third, the setting takes place in a realistic place.

The most poignant fact, which speaks to the novella's Naturalistic perspective, is the death of Lennie. In Naturalism, nature is regarded as far more powerful than man. Here, Lennie's character is who he is (a mentally challenged man who does not understand his own strength and cannot be changed from such). Therefore, Lennie's nature as a powerful man cannot be altered--it is in his nature. No matter how hard George tries, Lennie will continue to kill things which are weaker than him.
This alone speaks to the power of nature, one of the most important characteristics as seen in Naturalistic texts.
As I understand it, naturalism grew out of realism because realism, like life itself, is not dramatic and consequently can be dull. Naturalism is realism with drama and plot. It can be seen that Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is certainly realistic but also heavily plotted, which is what makes it naturalistic and dramatic. Right from the beginning Steinbeck is planning to have a series of events occur which will lead to the final chapter in which George kills his best friend by the river. He invents the sexy, promiscuous character of Curley's wife for the sole purpose of having her killed by Lennie in the barn when she becomes flirtatious. He invents a violent and sadistic character in Curley who will end up leading a lynch mob after Lennie. And so forth. This is naturalism because it is realism plotted to be dramatic and emotionally moving.
major novel written by John Steinbeck is Of Mice and Men, which tells of George and his mentally handicapped life-long friend Lennie. It is said in Beach's book that Lennie Small is perhaps the finest expression of writers life-long sympathy for the abused common man like a lot of his other books, Of Mice and Men is set in Salinas Valley, California. However, unlike his other books, Of Mice and Men isn't a political statement at all.
It is a "Universal metaphor" for the cruelty of the "human condition "Lennie's "shapeless face, bearlike movements, brute gentles and selective forgetfulness," represents one of the most sympathized sensational figures in all of modern fiction He is convincingly childlike in nature, but knows what he can do to strengthen his and George's relationship. George is one of the things Lenny values besides hie love for small, soft animals. Because of his uncontrollable strength, Lenny usually ends up "destroying" those small animals, and in the end must be "destroyed" himself. George is forced to destroy Lenny due to his love for him, because he realizes that just like Candy's dog, Lenny simply does not fit in a world that does not guard the innocent from the immorality of selfish men
Naturalism is an extension of Realism. While it did not stray from the realistic perspective greatly, it did put much emphasis upon the element of the natural (nature). Many times, within Naturalism, nature was personified (which gave nonhuman things (nature) the abilities and characteristics of a human).

Naturalism was renowned for realistic settings, common people and professions and told from an objective point-of-view (meaning the narrator told the story like it was and did not attempt to change the outcome based upon personal sympathy or empathy).

Naturalism in OF MICE AND MEN
This book was written because John Steinbeck wanted to show how life was during the Great Depression. He wanted to show how people were affected by the depression and what people had to do in order to survive. He showed how people had to make hard decisions, not only for themselves, but for others as well. Steinbeck did a great job in portraying his idea through this novel.
Author's Purpose
Literary Analysis
a literary and philosophical movement that uses realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had an inescapable force in shaping human character.

Replicate a believable everyday reality through literature.
Influenced by Darwinism (Charles Darwin)
One's character is determined by heredity and social environment.

Used from the 1880s to the 1940s (OMAM published in 1937)
Naturalistic plots within the novel
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