Of Mice and Men

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Does Steinbeck reflect a desperate society or does he offer some hope and optimism in his novel "Of Mice and Men"

In Steinbeck's novel " Of Mice and Men" there are many different characters each expressing there own opinion on whether they are living in a desperate society or that there is indeed some hope and optimism in the world around them. At the time the book was set, which is in the 1930's great American depression, many people were unemployed and jobs were hard to come by. Steinbeck's novel centres around the exploits and happenings of a few men, and one women, at the time of this great depression. Steinbeck shows how the most unusual friendships can be created in the mist of this depression and sadness. Such as the strong friendship between Lennie and George. Which in the end, drove George to kill Lennie for his own good. Some characters such as Lennie show how many people at this time had dreams of owning there own piece of land and being able to retire in peace with no one to tell them what to do. This reflects the view of optimism and hope in the book. However some characters such as Crooks see the world around them as desperate and solitary. Crooks believes that no ones dream will come true and that nothing will ever get better, this is shown in the line, " Nobody ever gets to heaven, and nobody never gets no land." (page 106) He also says that Lennie's dream will always stay as a dream and will never come true. The novel " Of Mice and Men" on the whole gives many views of hope and optimism and many views of the characters in the book living in a desperate society. I believe that the book balances itself out and that there are equal amounts of each view. The book being as equally optimistic as it is pessimistic. I will discuss how Steinbeck shows these views through his selection of characters and scene settings over the next few paragraphs.

At the time the book Of Mice and Men is set many people in America and other countries had a very pessimistic outlook on life. The book reflects this view in its character opinions and scene settings. From 1929 to 1939 there were failed businesses, harsh poverty and many people were in long term unemployment. Many people made the migration to California looking for work. Most travelled alone, however, in the case of Lennie and George they travelled together. This is evident when George says, " We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us." (page 32). Here George is saying how that he and Lennie are different from the rest of the no-hopers in the world around them and that they have a chance to make things better for themselves because they with always have each other. In some cases in the book there is a pessimistic side to Lennie and George's friendship. The line said by George " Hide in the brush till I come for you." (page 34). George repeats this statement about hiding in the brush until he comes many times, to emphasise the point to Lennie. This is suggesting that George does not trust Lennie and that he believes he will do something wrong in the near future. Therefore giving the impression that George believes that the society they are living in is desperate and that Lennie will make the same mistakes over and over again. Another example of how George and Lennie's friendship sometimes reflects a desperate society is how George says "You crazy son of a bitch." (page 29). This is when George is reflecting on how he could have a much better life without Lennie with him all the time. Also in this section, George shows some compassion for Lennie. After he has finished shouting at Lennie we get the line, "He looked ashamedly at Lennie's anguished face through the flames" and also the line, "Poor Bastard". This is showing us how George now feels sorry for Lennie and maybe he realises that he is lucky to have a friend in this desperate society, therefore reflecting some hope and optimism in the book. With...
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