Of Mice, Men, and Love

Of Mice, Men, and Love

A Story by GenMuffin7
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An essay on Of Mice and Men. Written freshman year of high school.

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Of Mice, Men, and Love

 

In the novel Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, the role that love plays in life is made clear. Several different characters are introduced; some are successful in life, and the rest are not so fortunate. Those who thrive do so because of their love.  All who don’t posses this trait fail, with no exceptions.  George, Slim, and Lennie succeed in life through their love, whereas the loveless fail.

With a best friend to watch out for him and a future to look forward to, Lennie is definitely one of the few successful characters in this book. Lennie’s love for George contributes to his positive outlook on life, “…I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you…” George’s praises mean the world to Lennie and it shows when George congratulates him for remembering what he was supposed to do causing Lennie to become “choked with pride.” When Crooks is told about Lennie and George’s goal of getting “a little house” and to “…live off the fatta the lan’,” Crooks scornfully states that “…hundreds of men come by the road…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…” It’s Lennie’s and Georges love and dedication that get them to a point that hundreds of others have strived, but failed to reach.

Lennie’s love for rabbits is immediately introduced in the first chapter of the story. “An’ the rabbit. Go on George!” Then soon after: “Let’s have different color rabbits, George.” After Lennie’s big fight with Curley his only concern is of taking care of the rabbits, “I can still tend the rabbits, George?” When George is telling Lennie about the possibility of the cats getting the rabbits Lennie reacts very violently as he has never done up to this point, “You jus’ let ‘em try to get the rabbits. I’ll break their God damn necks. I’ll… I’ll smash ‘em with a stick.” There is almost never a moment where the rabbits are forgotten in Lennie’s mind. When George is talking about the possibility of going to circuses, carnivals, or baseball games whenever they felt like it, Lennie interrupts saying: “An’ put some grass to the rabbits (before they leave)” then “I wouldn’t never forget to feed the them.” Lennie is so obsessive over the rabbits that he randomly brings them up during conversations which have no relation. During his conversation with Curley’s wife about her past, out of nowhere, he says: “We gonna have a little place—an’ rabbits.” Curley’s wife continues talking but a little later, as expected by most readers at this point, he brought up rabbits again. Even though Lennie’s interactions with Curley’s wife are

 minimal up to this point, she already questions his obsession with rabbits. Consequently after Lennie kills Curley’s wife he imagines a gigantic rabbit speaking to him telling him that he’s unfit to take care of rabbits and that he’d forget to feed them which is the worst possible thing that could happen to Lennie. But the image of the rabbit leaves as George joins Lennie and eases his suffering by telling him that he can still tend the rabbits. Love is Lennie’s drive in life.

Crooks defines failure as a result of trudging through life without any love. Crooks is referred to as a “n****r” by most of the characters demonstrating a lack of respect from them. He’s not permitted to go into the bunk house because he’s black and is bitter because of that reason and others similar to it. He’s denied the right to stick up for himself, as shown when Curley’s wife goes into his room: “You go no rights comin’ in a colored man’s room… Now you jus’ get out, an’ get out quick …” demands Crooks. He is immediately rebuked “Listen, N****r,” says Curley’s wife, “You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?” Crooks falls silent and reduces himself to “nothing”. “A guy needs somebody—to be near him,” confesses Crooks. “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody…a guy gets lonely and gets sick.” This shows that Crooks knows what it’s like to have friends and expresses that he needs somebody to talk to. “I remember when I was a little kid… Had two brothers. They was always near me, always there. Used to sleep right in the same room, right in the same bed,” reminisces Crooks. This quote supports that Crooks once knew what it was like to have companions and would clearly love to have one again. When Candy enters the room, Crooks is pleased at the prospect of having visitors but attempts to conceal it. Crooks is clearly unhappy with his life and the way he is treated, and most of it has to do with the fact that he has no love in his life.

“…he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsman… His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love…” Slim is introduced. Slim is probably one of the best-off characters in the book. Because of his love and dedication he is respected by everybody on the ranch. Crooks musters up all his strength to stand up straight for Slim. “Slim’s a real skinner. He looks out for his team,” he states. Early in the book, right after George and Lennie are introduced to Slim, it becomes time for dinner and although Carlson is closer to the door he moves aside to allow Slim to pass by him and follows. When Slim has something to say all talking and actions cease until he’s done. It’s said that his words are law to the ranchers. When Carlson becomes intent on getting rid of Candy’s dog Slim gives his opinion on the matter which, as the book states, “were law.” These little actions demonstrate how the other characters see Slim. Another instance of Slims’ success is when Curley’s wife is missing and he’s suspicious of Slim and looks to find him, and when he does and is found to be wrong Slim becomes furious which scares Curley making him apologize repeatedly. Slim does so well because he loves and understands. “Hardly none of the guys ever travel together… work a month, and then quit and go out alone. Never seem to give a damn about nobody,” Slim observes. At the end of the book when Lennie gets shot and George loses his best friend Slim invites George for a drink which could lead to them becoming good friends, and perhaps come to love each other as much as George and Lennie did.

From beginning to end George demonstrates his awareness for the importance of companionship. It’s made especially clear when he’s talking to Lennie or explaining why he travels around with somebody else. He repeatedly explains the advantages of doing so to Lennie, “…We got a future. We got somebody…that gives a damn about us.” Later when talking to Slim, George says, “I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain’t no good. They don’t have no fun…” George loves Lennie and has repeated “I was jus’ foolin Lennie. ‘Cause I want you to stay with me…” both in the beginning and the end of the novel. At the end, when Lennie dies, an opportunity of befriending Slim arises and it seems as though George has chosen to follow through and make a new best friend.

            Curley’s wife is capable of love but she becomes a victim of herself by marrying a man she didn’t even know, and couldn’t come to love. She is in need of a companion and repeatedly says so both directly and indirectly. She’s constantly avoiding Curley and socializing with the other men in the vicinity. “…Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in awhile? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?” she says when talking to Crooks, Lennie, and Candy. Then later she says “…Why can’t I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awful lonely.” Curley’s wife is already pained by her inability to talk to others. She clearly is unsatisfied with life as it is and wishes that she got more out of her life. She killed both Lennie and herself because of her need for companionship and love.

The few remaining, unmentioned characters left are all different in terms of their view on love. Candy is a prime example of a leaf turned over. “I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.” Candy has been with his dog since it was a puppy, and they worked side by side and according to Candy, the dog was “the best damn sheep dog” he had ever seen. If the dog was truly that important to him he should have taken care of his own dog and now regrets not doing so. Whit shows signs of appreciating the blessing of friendship, if not love, when he brings in his old friends’ letter that was sent in. He’s extremely excited for his friend which sends the idea that life, for Whit, could have been better if Bill was around. Or even that life is better because Bill was part of his life. Next is Carlson who never demonstrates love or even any understanding of love. He shoots Candy’s dog for the wrong reason and when Lennie is killed and Slim and George walk towards the highway Carlson says “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?” This shows that he doesn’t understand that Lennie and George loved each other and he’s learned nothing form his whole experience with the two.

With no hand, no more respect, and no true love, Curley is truly the most unsuccessful character in the novel. Curley is very self-confident in his boxing abilities and has the right to be as he’s “pretty handy” and has done “…quite a bit in the ring…” All of Curley’s enjoyment comes from fighting. When Carlson makes a comment about how Curley’s wife should stay at home Curley is immediately angered and replies, “You keep outta this les’ you wanta step outside,” as a way to resolve the problem. Since he can’t provoke a fight with Carlson he moves on to Lennie only to get his hand crushed and all respect he had prior to the incident diminish. His pride is so big that he goes along with not getting Lennie fired so nobody else learns of his long-awaited defeat. Even his wife said “I’m glad you bust up Curley a little bit. He got it comin’ to him…” Curley and his wife got married the same day they met depicting no true love between the two. In addition to this she’s been “Married two weeks and got the eye…” Towards the end when Lennie breaks Curley’s wife’s neck, he loses all he had to take pride in. In the end Curley’s the biggest failure and pays the biggest price.

George, Slim, and Lennie succeed in life through their love, whereas the loveless fail. This novel reveals how big of a role love plays in determining your success in life—or your failure. Every character contributes to this thesis, each with their own significant addition. One of the many messages this novel sends out is that love is the only key to unlock the door leading to success.

 

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© 2008 GenMuffin7



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Z
wow, this is actually a pretty nice structured essay. This book was actually a good book that I enjoyed, even doing an essay on it than Life of Pi that I had to do. Great job

Posted 9 Years Ago



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GenMuffin7
GenMuffin7

Pleasanton, CA



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high school junior. love to write, play all sports (esp soccer + football). more..

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