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Mice and Men Themes

By Natderosa Mar 22, 2012 1122 Words
The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy. There are some factors in life you cannot control or plan for. People make a map of how they want and need to reach your goals, but there is always a stronger or unpredictable power to throw you right off you’re path. This theme from “To a Mouse” is universal. Big Lannie, from the short story “Clothe the Naked”, is a strong, caring and loving woman. Who always makes the brightest of plans for her children and grandson’s, Raymond, futures. But the force that ruins her dreams of Raymond’s joy, is prejudice, due to her African American heritage and ignorance. And then there is Doodle, from the short story “The Scarlet Ibis”, this poor young boy faces the cruel reality and obsticle that is being physical disabled. This obstacle keeps Doodle and the Narrator from achieving their goal of Doodle walking. Finally, there is Lenny Small and George Milton, from the novella Of Mice and Men, these two friends just want to own their own little ranch, but the uncontrollable factor that changes the courses they take and ruins the Natalie DeRosa

chances of ever owning their own land is Lenny. You can plan how to reach your goals, but often they are just some factors that dictate your steps.
Dorothy Parker’s “Clothe the Naked” shows how some goals can’t be achieved due to the unavoidable factor of racism and ignorance. Poor Big Lannie, all she cares about is the well fare of her children and grandson. But all her children did not live to grow up, except one. Her daughter, Arlene, lives to grow up, but then dies giving birth to a baby boy, Raymond. Big Lannie decides to take care of little Raymond, who was born blind. Big Lannie works at, for lack of better terminology, white middle class women’s homes. She is a very good worker, but is not given any respect due to her black skin. Raymond loves to walk around the streets outside their small apartment. He loves to listen to the children laugh and play, since he cannot see them. But a very cold and harsh winter comes around and there is no clothes to keep Raymond warm enough and go outside and no money to buy clothes. Big Lannie knows this a problem that must be fixed, in order to achieve her constant goal of keeping Raymond

Natalie DeRosa
happy. Big Lannie frets and begs her employer, Ms. Ewing, for some of her husband’s spare clothes. And Ms. Ewing reluctantly gives Big Lannie her husband’s old suit, and makes her feel terrible for asking. Big Lannie excitingly dress Raymond and adjust the suit, for it is too big. Raymond walks outside, waiting to hear laughter and joy, everything he’s been dreaming of while waiting in the apartment for clothes. But he goes outside and painful humiliating laughter. This is shock a shock that he falls to the ground and scrapes his hands and knees. He has to crawl home. Poor Raymond, he just dreams of going outside and hearing kids play, but now he hears the cruel laughter of prejudice and children’s ignorance. These are the two unavoidable factors that keep Big Lannie from her dreams of Raymond’s happiness, because now Raymond is no longer innocent. And now he is scared of the streets, the only thing that made him light up with joy.

James Hurst recognizes the theme that the best mapped out plans often just do not work out due to ineluctable factors in “The Scarlet Ibis”. In this story, the narrator schemes his plan out of pride, because he is Natalie DeRosa

ashamed of his brother, Doodle. Doodle has a disability and cannot walk. The narrator determines to make Doodle walk before school starts, out of fear of embarrassment. Doodle agrees, out of both loyalty to his brother and his wish to walk. They would go to Old Woman Swamp and practice. Eventually Doodle did walk, but that made the narrator craves more, make his brother more like normal children. He had his brother run, and swing on vines. But Doodle simply can’t keep up, and eventually he gives up and dies, the power of his handicap defeated both their dreams. And there is nothing they can do to prevent or fix this ineluctable hurdle on the road to their hopes and dreams.

In John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men this theme is also illustrated. Lenny Small and George Milton dream of owning their own ranch, where Lenny can have rabbits to pet and tend to. Their plan is to work at a local ranch for a month and raise enough money to put down on some land for sale. George always reminds Lenny to behave and he will have his rabbits, but Lenny is very forgetful and is not very bright. Lenny loves to pet anything soft, mice, dogs, velvet, etc. George always tries to Natalie DeRosa

make him stop, but he cannot. Lenny loves to pet so much, he pets to death. And their dream of owning the ranch is ruined because of innocent Lenny’s ignorance. He disobeys George’s orders to not speak to their boss’s sons, Curley’s, wife. But when Curley’s wife approaches Lenny and offers him to pet her hair, he cannot refuse. But he doesn’t know when to stop, and then she screams. Lenny fears George will hear and find out and he won’t be able to have rabbits so he puts his hand over her mouth. But he accidently breaks her neck and kills her. This made it impossible to ever own a ranch or do any of their dreams, because of the fact that Lenny’s nature of being.

The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy. Most dreams just cannot be fulfilled and it is out of your control. Just as demonstrated in “Clothe the Naked”, “The Scarlet Ibis”, and Of Mice and Men. I feel that the novella was the best genre for this theme, because this theme needs in depth explanation and should be more complex than a short story. I think it makes a minor difference the choice of genre, because it is harder in short Natalie DeRosa

stories to accomplish spreading this theme than in maybe a novella or novel. The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew, and leaves us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy, this theme is universal and is everywhere. You can plan and plan, but there are just some factors you cannot beat.

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