Suffering of Individuals in "Of Mice and Men"

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, Solitude

“The novel Of Mice and Men is more than just the tragedy of Lennie; it shows the sadness and suffering of many individuals in a harsh world.” Discuss this statement, making close reference to the text.

The Great Depression, originating in the United States in 1929, was one of the toughest and most unbearable times in world history. It resulted in severe worldwide economic depression, which had devastating effects on trade and commercial activity. People lost their jobs and struggled to survive. Farming and rural areas suffered heavily. Of Mice and Men, a novella written by John Steinbeck in 1937, tells the story of two farm workers, Lennie Small and George Milton who are living through the Depression and who ultimately have a dream to own their own farm. Steinbeck was influenced by Robert Burns’ poem, ‘To a Mouse’, in determining the title of the novella. The key line of Burns’ poem ‘ the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry’ is representative of the plot of the story as most of the dreams and aspirations of the main characters are not realized. Steinbeck grew up on a ranch in Salinas, California. This is the predominant setting for the novel. The environment of depression and resulting economic poverty and severe shortage of work in his local community engulfed his early life. This shaped his literary style to focus on the financial hardships of the times and was a likely source of inspiration for the novella. Although Of Mice and Men helped John Steinbeck achieve recognition as a writer, it was criticized by some for its raw portrayal of the difficulties faced by people during the Depression. Throughout the novel Steinbeck cogently depicts the adversity faced by the main characters, Lennie, George, Crooks and Candy and the detrimental effects on them living during this time. Through the use of characterisation, plot structure and setting, Steinbeck strengthens the statement that the novella is more than just the tragedy of Lennie, but that it...
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