Monday, April 18, 2011

Literary Analysis of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

A 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 (Beach 3377). Just 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" (Beach 3377). Lennie's "shapeless face, bearlike movements, brute gentles and selective forgetfulness," represents one of the most sympathized sensational figures in all of modern fiction (Gray 3378). 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 (Magill 1885). 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 (Beach 3378).

George's irrevocable, yet tragic, act is the final gesture in their exceptional relationship that other individuals often fail to comprehend due to the fact that it is based on tenderness and compassion rather than selfishness and greed. George's feelings towards Lenny were tantamount to that of an older brother. George has promised Lenny's family that, no matter what, he would protect and take care of Lenny as long as he lived. Ironically, it is through such a promise that Lenny's demise is further established (Gray 65). For, as it was previously stated, George had to destroy Lenny in the end to protect him from the harshness and inhumanity of others. Through George's irrevocable act, he also sets Lenny and himself free from isolation. For Lenny had been isolated through his mental handicap, and George had been confined as a direct result of Lenny and the trouble he would invoke (Magill 1886). George had now gained the ability to freely interact with others without the burden of Lenny's actions. However, George was still burdened by the emptiness and isolation caused by the missing place of his old friend (Beach 3379). This helps to establish the novels theme of solitude, friendship, and inhumanity versus tenderness.

Works Cited
Beach, Joseph Warren, et al. John Steinbeck Draper, James P., ed.
    World Literature Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Inc.,
    1992. 3372-3389.
Gray, James. John Steinbeck American Writers: A collection of 
    Literary biographies. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,
    1961. 49-72.
Magill, Frank N. John Steinbeck Shuman, Baird. R., ed. Magill's 
    Survey of American Literature: Volume 6. New York: Marshall 
    Cavendish Corporation, 1991. 1885-1899


Blogger Unknown said...

I think that you capture that the novel isn't just telling a tragic tale of two unfortunate friends but its also telling the truth of the American Dream. That its nothing but an illusion, a mirage created from the hopes and dreams of hundreds of people who came to this country with the promise of a new world. But with the passing of time those hopes have faided and that promise broken. So in the end John Steinbeck gave people what they wanted to read while at the same time revealing a truth. The truth that there is no dream...
Just reality.

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