Of Mice & Men Section 1

Key notes of section 1.

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  • Created on: 06-04-09 14:02

Section 1 : Nature 1

The book opens with the suggestion that the peaceful world of nature is disturbed by man.

The effect becomes more pronounced during this section as the "sound of footsteps" grows louder and the animals flee to safety.

This movement from harmony to discord appears in most of the natural settings in the book

The green pool is portrayed as an idyllic and beautiful place which is innocent and peaceful, rather like the Garden of Eden.

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Section 1 : Nature 2

Steinbeck suggest a great deal about Lennie by describing his movements. The unthinking way in which Lennie drinks from the "green" pool reinforces the impression of a markedly animal temperament.

Like an animal, Lennie always tries to satisfy his immediate needs and seems unable to see the possible consequences.

Some aspects of Lennie's behaviour contribute to the humour in the novel. Here, for example, the way he dips "his whole head under, hat and all" reinforces our impression of Lennie as being more like an animal than a man.

"The flame of the sunset lifted from the mountaintops and dusk came into the valley"

George appreciates the stillness and harmony of the pastoral scene around them.

This moment of calm interrupts the interplay of the two characters and re-establishes a sense of harmony. It also introduces a gentler tone.

Notice how Steinbeck uses the natural surroundings to mirror the mood of the action.

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Section 1 : Loneliness

"Guys like us, that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world"

George and Lennie are initerant (wandering) workers.

They are drifters who move from ranch to ranch.

They dress in the traditional manner of cowboys from whom they descend, and are skilled in the various aspects of farm work.

George and Lennie find themselves a "few miles south of Soledad". This is a real place in California and its name - which is Spanish - can mean loneliness or a lonely place.

George and Lennie 'suit' each other because of their complementary natures.

Both men are dressed the same way, but in temperament they are different.

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Section 1 : George 1

George - "every part of him defined" - gives an immediate impression of intelligence.

He is reminiscent of a quick-witted animal with his "restless" ways.

George leads the duo and we can see that he is clearly the one who is in charge.

Both men have endured much physical hardship.

George washes in the pool in traditional cowboy style.

Unlike Lennie, he is a cautious person.

George is quick, precise, apprehensive and cautious.

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Section 1 : Lennie 1

Lennie is described as a "bear"

This animal context establishes at once the essential nature of the man - the combination of brute strength and animal-like innocence.

The bear is a particularly appropriate image for Lennie, because it shares not only his harmless appearance (as of a teddy bear), but also his dangerous tendency to hold onto things in his bear-hug.

One of Lennie's most dangerous failings is his inability to learn from past experience.

George's admonishment establishes his role as Lennie's mentor, with the responsibility of protecting Lennie from himself.

Lennie is slow, clumsy and 'easy-going'.

Notice that it is Lennie who always seems to suffer because of his reckless and impetuous behaviour.

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Section 1 : Dream 1

George thinks without Lennie he 'could live so easy and maybe have a girl'.

This is the first example in the book of characters dreaming of better things in the future.

Such dreams become increasingly important.

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