Of Mice and Men - Themes

ciera_99
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An overview of the dominating themes of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men with examples, quotes and conclusions

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Hafsa A
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Of Mice and Men - Themes
1 The predatory nature of human existence
1.1 Loneliness
1.1.1 Curley's wife
1.1.1.1 admits to being unhappily married
1.1.1.1.1 "I never get to talk to anyone, or else Curley gets mad."

Annotations:

  • My personal opinion is that perhaps she never married Curley because she actually loved him, but rather, simply for company.
1.1.1.2 says she feels a kind of shameless dissatisfaction with her life
1.1.1.3 unfulfilled dream of becoming a movie star
1.1.1.4 So lonely that she is constantly trying to make friends with George and Lennie
1.1.1.4.1 "You can talk to me, don't listen to George."
1.1.2 Characterisation
1.1.2.1 "Give the Stable Buck hell. Ya see the stable buck's a nigger."

Annotations:

  • An example of Steinbeck portraying the characters' loneliness using the characterisation of race
1.1.2.1.1 A typical example of racism in the 1930s
1.1.3 The characters are rendered helpless by their isolation, and yet, they seek to destroy those who are even weaker than they
1.1.3.1 Eg. When Crooks admits his own vunerabilities, he crtiticises Lennie's dream of the farm
1.1.3.1.1 Oppression does not come only from the hands of the strong or the powerful. The novel suggests that the most visible kind of strength—that used to oppress others—is itself born of weakness.
2 Fraternity and the idealised male friendship
2.1 The men in Of mice and Men idealise friendships where they live with one another's best interests.
2.1.1 Steinbeck conveys the world as one too harsh to sustain such relationships
2.1.1.1 After Lennie's death, the rest of the world is represented by Curley and Carlson, who watch george part with lennie in grief and fail to acknowledge the rare friendship
2.2 George and Lennie are the only two who have come close to the ideal brotherhood in the novel
2.2.1 But they lose a dream larger than themselves
2.2.1.1 Hence the tragic ending has such a profound impact
3 The impossibility of the American dream
3.1 Most characters admit to dreaming of a different life
3.1.1 However even before the story begins, circumstances have robbed most characters of these wishes
3.1.1.1 Curley's wife wanted to be a movie star
3.1.1.2 Crooks wants to hoe a patch of garden on the farm
3.1.1.3 Candy also latches onto Georges dream of owning a couple of acres
3.2 The dreamers wished for untarnished happiness and for the freedom to follow their own desires.
3.2.1 Making it all typically American

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