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The novel "Of Mice and Men" was written during the Great depression of the 1930s. Its setting was in the ranch where the author was working. The novel has been regarded as a tragedy which is narrated in a social tone. It is likely that the author portrays the story out of his own experience in the ranches where he was concerned with the relationships between the workers in the ranch. This novel contains various themes. The major theme that comes out in the novel is the theme of carelessness which has its roots in the weaknesses that people have. Almost all characters are portrayed as weak, lonely and are always striving to tear down those who are already weak. Among the weak characters are Candy, Crooks and the wife of Curley. A good example of the fact that the characters are set to destroy the already weak characters is when Crooks criticizes Lennie's dreams since he considers more the personal vulnerabilities of Lennie. The characters take pleasure in the sufferings of their counterparts (Stephen and Steinbeck 72).
The characters in this novel have been developed so as to bring out the major themes in the novel. The theme of weakness and loneliness has been clearly brought out by the characters like George who despite having the dream of becoming a better person in the society in future, he is brought down by his own shortcomings. Other themes that the characters portray include the friendship between men. The author has also employed the use of symbols which aids the clarity of meaning. The use of metaphor has enabled the author to convey the message clearly (Williams 29).
This is the best theme which has been indicated in this book as it is one of the main one which explores the overall plot and the symbolism. This has been indicated in the situation where Steinbeck concluded to establish the settings of the book to be Soledad. This is a city which refers to "solitude" in the language of Spanish. This portrays the overwhelming exposure of the deeds of all the characters in the book. This loneliness is specifically for the itinerant worker who could not identify a location to establish a permanent residence. The men could not actually have a place where they could be identified with permanently as they were used to moving from ranch to ranch in the aspirations of working under a friendly or social employer. They were moving from ranch to another in pursuit of short-term employment where they found themselves in company of new faces and working under very insulting bosses. Lenni has indicated in the loneliness they were experiencing as not being compared to any other kind of life experience world over and that they are not in any way associated to any place. He further indicated that guys like them do not have any kind of family to count on in case of any thing they are doing out there hence this exposes the kind of loneliness in their lives (Bloom 48).
The two men, George and Lenni, have portrayed the kind of loneliness in the manner they watch over one another and that they do not need to have any other home other than the farm under their ownership. They are trying their best not to be absorbed by the kind of loneliness which is common with the other itinerant workforce in the farm. This is not achieved as per the setting of Steinbeck where it has been prepared in a manner which it does not let them off the hook but are in a circle related to loneliness and empty friendship. This empty friendship is linked to the drinking and prostitutes which comes in as a result of inadequate finances and distances.
There is much of meanness which has been captured in the deeds and the language of the book as portrayed by great percentage of information or ideas in the book. George and Lenni have kept themselves away from Curley who has been defined as mean person, snappish, cruel and bullying. George has indicated that he despise people who are mean like him (30). There is also the act of violence which has been highlighted on the side of Curley when he wanted to fight Lennie more often. When Lennie murdered the wife of Curley, George comes out in his defense and indicated to us that Lennie never did it in meanness. (104).
Meanness also has been indicated by the sizes of Lennie and Curley. In this situation, Curley has been described as the mean little guy who means that he is small or trivial.
The word mean also has been captured in the acts of Curley who actually has the intentions in the fight with Lennie. Lennie on the other hand does not know how to mean when it comes to acting on any issue. He lacks the personal meaning and does not predict in thinking over any issue besides he does not learn from any of his past deeds.
In this book, there is environmental fitness which has been picked from the field of biology which really refers to the social and cognitive aspects of fitness. This also covers the physical abilities of the characters. Candy has been portrayed as the ageless man meaning his physical fitness has not been of appropriate social class, as he has been associated with the low class individuals. The dog belonging to Candy has been described by the members of the bunk house to be insulting which has led to the killing of the dog. On the other hand, candy's weaknesses are portrayed to be weak as he could not defend the bad deeds on the killing of the dog (Hadella 47).
Lennie also on the other hand is indicated to have cognitive actions which do not fit the intellectual abilities of his character. There is parallel indication of this as even his best friend George has confessed that Lennie is as good as dead just like the candy's dog.
In this book, there are few women who have been indicated, which does not amaze us at all as compared to the men characters. The men in the book are people who have no respect for the women and at the same time they do not want to engage themselves in any form of relationship with them. This contrast their real intentions and needs as they like being with the prostitutes (Bloom 105).
There are two main characters that have been developed by the author. George and Lennie are the two characters who due to depression are set to look for work in the ranch. George has been drawn as a young fast man who has big thoughts. Though he doesn't dream of being one of the rich men, he thinks of himself possessing a piece of land. He is portrayed as a man who does not get angry easily but is a loving and caring companion. He experiences a lot of protests from his friend Lennie yet he is prepared to take care of him. He continually warns his friend not to drink too much so as to avoid getting sick. George brings out one of the major themes in the novel which is friendship and companionship. His impatient and brief nature does not draws him away from the primarily goal of giving protection to Lennie (McDonald and Gutteridge 14).
George is a stable character in the novel. He changes as the story develops. His ability to change is seen clearly from the conversation that he has with Slim where he accepts the fact that he has once abused Lennie. Through this he admits that what he did was wrong and that the act of taking advantage of the weak was not right according to the social norms. Here George brings out the theme of social fitness where the individuals in the society are struggling to do what is right. He has also helped in building the theme of loneliness when he gives an explanation of how essential it is to be with people. From the interaction that he has with Lennie he has been able to develop his own self. He talks of the fact that he has married and he has a family. He is wondering why people in the ranch walk around alone (Burkhead 123).
To him, this people are selfish, do not want to have fun and finally they are the most violent in the society. He complains about the stress that he goes through with Lenny as his friend but he does not hide the fact that Lennie helps him to be human. George as the main character has been drawn as one with a passion of a better situation in the future. He longs for the time when he will have the freedom to choose what he wants to do. At the moment he works in a ranch where there are rules and regulations that govern him in the work place. He also has a passion of living in a comfortable and secure place where the people do not cause them trouble. This thought that George has helps in developing the theme of good relationship and friendships in the novel. The nature of the world that they are living in destroys their dream of living in a safe and secure place (George 109).
Lennie also is a character in this novel. Unlike his companion George he is not vibrant. He is the same throughout the novel. He does not change throughout the novel as the reader assesses him. He is determined to the companionship of George and blindly follows the dream of George. He has been described as a huge person with undefined body strength. He also has been drawn as one with disabilities. His mental disability renders him weak; he cannot avoid dangers that are posed to his life by various figures such as Curley and his wife. He depends on George for his protection and his personal development. This character helps in developing the theme of loneliness and the importance of having friends. Despite his personal disabilities Lennie follows the passion for a bright future. He has a dream that they are going to develop a farm and this conviction enables the other characters to see its possibility. When the reader first encounters Lennie the feeling of sympathy develops as he has been doomed and helpless.
The author draws the two characters as opposite, their actions are conflicting. This situation is not clear at the beginning of the novel where they are portrayed as two individuals who are most likely posses the same thoughts and walk toward the same direction. The differences are seen as from their physical appearances. George is small, dark faced who every part of the body was defined while Lennie is huge and energetic, and he has a shapeless face and big pale eyes. Vision is what brings them together, the need for family and companionship as narrated by George (Meyer 102).
The major themes in the novel have been put forward and clearly explained through the use of symbols. Steinbeick in his novel adopted the use of variety of symbols which have a meaning. Symbols are objects which are used by the author to represent objects which are not real. The first symbol is the farm that George always describes to Lennie. They talk of the piece of land which is their own possession. They are going to plant food crops and keep their livestock in it. This is the most influential symbol in the novel. It has great influence on not only the reader but also other characters in the novel that are also looking forward to obtaining a free and enjoyable life. Crooks for example believe that Crooks ad Lennie will allow him to stay there. This farm is a symbol of the kind of paradise that men are yearning for. A place where there is freedom, independence and security from the threats that people face while living in this world.
Lennie's Puppy is another symbol that shows the kind of victory that the strong have over the weak. Lennie accidentally kills the puppy an action he has done on mice for a long time. This symbol signifies the fate that awaits the innocent Lennie just like his puppy who is not sensitive to the destructive powers in the surrounding (Benson 230).
There are other symbols such as Candys dog that have been used to symbolize the destiny of any individual who has survive to serve his or her own purpose in the world. At one time the dog was very useful care keeper in the ranch but it has been termed as outdated. Candy is so much attached to the dog that he plea for Carlson to let the dog live and be its pet. This symbolizes the nature of the existent laws. It shows how the weak will eventually destroyed in the society. Candy develops some fear for this as he his also growing old.
The novel "of the Mice and Men" is a story full of dreams, ambitions and visions. The two main characters play an important role in bringing out these themes along with others like friendship and loneliness. Steinbeck has chosen and developed the characters so as to achieve the main theme in the novel which regards the relationship between the strong and the weak in the society.