Of Mice And Men- THEMES

Basic themes in 'Of Mice And Men' By John Steinbeck.

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Loneliness

Every character on the ranch suffers from loneliness, a main theme in the novel. This time in America- 1930's was a time of loneliness and unhappiness; the Great Depression. Each character suffers in different ways:

  • Crooks is completely isolated from other characters on the ranch. He gets no respect or acknowlegment; he isn't even called by his name most of the time. He has his own room, and doesn't have any friends on the ranch.

 

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Loneliness

  • Curley's Wife is simular to Crooks; she is lonely becuase she spends all day alone. Curley doesn't pay her attention. This is why she pesters the other workers on the ranch for attention. She also doesn't get called by her own name, and as readers we don't even know what her name is.

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  • Curley is lonely; he is disliked by and doesn't get along with any of the other workers as he always accuses them of being with his wife.
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Loneliness

  • Candy's companion was his dog. This was the only thing he had close to a companion. However once it is shot he becomes a very lonely character.

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  • George and Lennie's relationship is explained through this theme of lonliness. "I ain't got no people"(George); they only have eachother for company and that's why they stick together. Lonely guys get "mean".
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Prejudice

Throughout the play there are many moments of predudice; Racial predudice and age predudice:

  •   Crooks is a ***** stable buck and is segregated becuase he is black.
  •     He is referred to as "******" and "stablebuck" and gets no respect.
  •     He lives in his own room and is not welcomed by the men on the ranch
  •     He gets "hell" from the boss when he is mad; an easy target.
  •     He has no power; even less then Curleys wife.
  •     This prejudice makes Crooks bitter; he is an angry man and makes out he doesn't want company anyway; he enjoys tormenting Lennie to start.
  •     However he wants companionship and quickly buys into the dream.
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Prejudice

  • Candy is the same. He get no respect from the men of the ranch. He is old.

   - He knows it wont be long until they fire him from his job.
   -He doesn't appear important to the men on the ranch and gets         little sympathy when Carlson shoots his dog.
    -His dog represents himself; soon too old, needing to go.

  • Curley's wife looks down on Candy too and dismissed him as a "lousy ol sheep". This is partly what turns him bitter about her death.
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The American Dream

  • The American Dream is the idea that you can own your own land to live off; growing whats needed and having something to your name. 
  • This dreams is what keeps the characters going. They recite the dream as though it is a fairytale; fiction.
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The American Dream

  • At this time in America the crop was poor. This was what made the dream such a fantasy.
  • To have enough land and crop to live off was a huge deal. It was also a naturalistic idea; the wall street crash and Great Depression was at this time; this idea took away from all the man made things and money that was lost in banks and would mean people could just live naturally providing a simplistic lifestyle for themselves.
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The American Dream

  • The workers on the ranch aren't going anywhere. Everyone still seeked and dreamt of the American Dream. Each week most men would blow their weeks wages in a "whore house" (perhaps as some relief of the loneliness). George believes that men like this "ain't got nothin' to look ahead to"
  • Steinbech represents the huge willingness for the dream through Lennie and George wanting to live off the "fatta the land".
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The American Dream

  • Curley's wife had a different dream; her dream was to become an actress; we can see this through her character as she wears dramatic clothes and always tries to catch attention.
  • None of the characters dreams esculate. They all turn out badly showing this could never have happened
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Relationships and Companionship

  • Loneliness was common at this time and not many people had a relationship or companion.  
  • George and Lennie's relationship seems to be odd to the others.
  • They are very optimistic and stick together.
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Relationships and Companionship

  • There is a huge contrast between George and Lennie's relationship and Curley and his wife's.
  • Curley is meant to be happily married and therefore not lonely however they are both more lonely then Lennie and George.
  • Candy and his Dog are similar to Lennie and George, and they are killed in simular ways.
  • Goerge and Lennie's relationship isn't understood by most; even Slim says it's peculiar.
  •  However George stays loyal to Lennie throughout and looks after him.
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Death and Destiny

  • Death appears to end everyones dreams.
  • It is inevetable and Steinbeck hints at it throughout the novel; he gives us warnings... Lennie kills mice... he then killed a puppy... he then proceeded to hurt Curley and finally killed Curley's wife.
  •  Candy's dog being killed forshadows what is going to happen to Lennie later on in the story.
  • Lennie also acts the same way when he kills Curley's wife- the same as he did with the puppy.
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Death and Destiny

  • From the beginning of the novel when a heron caught the water snake Steinbeck represents that death is a part of nature and is inevitable.
  • This is also linked to the character's destiny; Lennie has no control over his destiny; he cannot even control himself.
  •  Curley's wife also doesn't; she is trapped in loneliness on the farm with Curley.
  •  Even Slim; the "Godlike" character seems unable to control the destiny.
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Death and Destiny

  • Nature starts and ends the novel. They also start and finish it in the same place. Steinbeck uses forshadowing a lot to suggest what is going to happen in the novel.
  • George appears to have control over his destiny, but he doesn't.
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Sexism/ Women

  • Curley's wife is the most important woman in the novel and the only woman we meet.
  •  She is a lonely and frustrated person who appears to use her sexuality and looks for attention.
  • Only Slim pays attention to her as a person and treats her like one once she is dead.
  • In the play the men and women don't seem to understand eachother.
  • The men assume she is a "tart". Curley also doesn't understand the needs of his wife; his idea of 'being there' for her is covering his hand in vaseline.
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Sexism/ Women

  • In the novel, men stereotype women, and women stereotype men.They both seem to undermine eachothers dreams.
  • The men had little/ no respect for women at the time.
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Comments

Jemima

Really helpful, thank you!!

Joshyy28

thats great! thanks

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