"Of Mice and Men" Themes

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The Themes and Characters in Of Mice and Men

In his novella, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck tells the story of two migrant workers in 1930’s California, George and Lennie. George shares an unusual, and somewhat questionable, brotherly relationship with Lennie, which faces criticisms from multiple characters. In the story, Lennie has a mild mental disability, but makes up his absentmindedness with his unparalleled strength. As George and Lennie progress through the story, they meet various characters that, along with George and Lennie, convey the themes of human nature, the unachievable American dream, and friendship. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck conveys the themes of human nature, the unachievable American dream, and friendship through the characters in the story.

In the explored theme of human nature in the novel, Steinbeck compares the weakness of the characters to the predatory aspect of human nature. Many characters in Of Mice and Men admit to having a sense of loneliness, alienation, and weakness, seeking to destroy other people weaker than them. This predatory seek for the destruction on the weak can be demonstrated by Crooks when he puts down Lennie’s dreams of owning his own farm: “’Le’s say he (George) wants to come back and can’t. S’pose he gets killed or hurt so he can’t come back.’ ‘George won’t do nothing like that. George is careful. He won’t get hurt. He ain’t never been hurt, ‘cause he’s careful.’ ‘Well, s’pose, jus’ s’pose he don’t come back. What’ll you do then?” (p. 68). Crooks, being a black man in the 1930’s, having a crooked back, and having the desire for a companion sees Lennie, a slow-minded man, as a entryway to make himself feel better. Crooks goes from being at his weakest state to being at his strongest by putting Lennie down, making Lennie think his dream was in jeopardy and that George could be hurt. Furthermore, Curley’s wife displays the predatory state of human nature when she insults Crooks, Lennie, and Candy:...
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