How Does Steinbeck Make Lennie's Death Seem Inevitable in 'of Mice and Men'?

Topics: Great Depression, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck Pages: 5 (1790 words) Published: June 23, 2013
How does Steinbeck make Lennie's death seem inevitable in 'Of Mice and Men'?

Of Mice and Men, published by John Steinbeck in 1937, is set in the Salinas Valley of California during the Great Depression.The novels two main characters, George and Lennie, embody the American struggle to survive the Depression, but the novel is timeless because it captures the personal isolation and suffering present in the land of opportunity. During the last scene George tells Lennie to take off his hat and look across the river while he describes their farm. He tells Lennie about the rabbits, and promises that nobody will ever be mean to him again. “Le’s do it now,” Lennie says. “Le’s get that place now.” George agrees. He raises Carlson’s gun, which he has removed from his jacket, and shoots Lennie in the back of the head. As Lennie falls to the ground and becomes still, George tosses the gun away and sits down on the riverbank, this is one of the times when it proves the main point Steinbeck is trying to percieve: loneliness and isolation. The Title 'Of Mice and Men' originated from the poem by the Scottish Robert Burns in 1765 , called 'To a Mouse'. A major point to note is that Burns is saying that the mouse does not think and lives in the present rather than being able to look over life and its past, which is comparable to Lennie (in ways) because he has the mentality of a child he does not mull over past thoughts. However he is also saying that man's dominion has broken Nature's social union, because as mankind we do worse.

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray-
'The best laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft agley
And leave us nought but grief and pain
For promised joy!'

This ties in to the mice in the story, but more broadly refers to the tragedy of causing pain with good intentions. There are many ways to look at this verse and how it adds to the inevitability: the mice refer to weak people, such as Lennie, Crooks, and Candy, and men refer to strong people, like George and Slim, the book is a story of weak and strong people.

Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men at a time when he was becoming involved in California's social and economic problems. John Steinbeck lived during the Great Depression years, a time in which many people were at or below the poverty line. Many of those people became non-trustful of any individual new to town, or those that threaten their community social standards. People, in many cases, imagined threats that did not exist. Also, many people became extremely possessive of what little they had. During the late 1930s, California was struggling not only with the economic problems of the Great Depression, but also with severe labor strife. By the late 1930s there were an estimaled 200,000 to 350,000 migrants: underpaid, underfed, and underemployed.However, California's agricultural system could not exist without the migrant workers. Quotes that reprsent the Great Depression:

“Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place. . . . With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don't have to sit in no bar room blowin' in our jack jus' because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.” Chapter 1. This signifies how they are migrant workers during the Great Depression, two guys continuously looking for work and trying to survive.

“I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an' that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head. An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Everybody wants a little...
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