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Use of Foreshadowing in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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Use of Foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men

 

In the novel, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, foreshadowing is used a great deal throughout the whole story. From the beginning to the end, it appears everywhere hinting on what will happen in order to make the book more enjoyable. It was used to show that Lennie will be getting into trouble with Curley's wife, the death of Lennie, and exactly how he dies.

 

The moment that Curley's wife was introduced, an ill feeling overcomes the atmosphere indicating that Lennie will be getting into a mess with her. George states in the very beginning that he is always getting into mishaps, "You do bad things and I got to get you out," (p.11). The situation in Weed involved a girl and Curley's wife just happened to be the only girl on the ranch. Connecting ends with ends, there is a sense of insecurity between these two people. Later on, there was an intimation that she was going to be killed by Lennie because he killed the mouse and the puppy, leading to bigger deaths such as Curley's wife.

 

Foreshadowing plays a large role in indicating that Lennie isn't going to last long in this harsh world. The beginning introduces this world in such a great way, raising your emotions with a happy tone in a wonderful peaceful scene and then sends that scene plummeting over a cliff into a dark unhappy environment. The strong characters in this environment attack the weak and the weak attack the weaker. An example of the strong against the weak is when Carlson compels Candy, "I'll put the old devil out of his misery right now," (p.47) to let him shoot his dog. An example of the weak attacking the weaker is when Crooks teases Lennie, "jus' s'pose he don't come back," (p.72) Lennie is the weakest because of his mental disability and his lack of thinking for himself. He would either run away or be eliminated through death. Candy and his dog mirror the image of George and Lennie. Candy being George and his dog being Lennie. When the dog dies, it foreshadows his death because the dog represented him. The contrast between the first chapter and the last also shows his death because the same scene goes from the peaceful field to the violent death of the water snake. This deep change hints on the upcoming tragedy, Lennie's demise.

 

The fact that the death of Candy's dog and the death of Lennie are identical reflects on the way his murder was carried out. He was shot by in the back of the head the same way the dog was. Candy told George, "I ought to of shot that dog myself"(p.61) making him chose to kill Lennie himself to save him from dying by the hands of a stranger. Doing it the way that Carlson did it was for the best because, "He won't even feel it." (p.48)

 

Steinbeck used the technique of foreshadowing to make the book Of Mice and Men more than just merely a book. He made it a book where the reader can predict what will happen before it happens through hints in the surrounding events. Curley's Wife's death was foreshadowed by Lennie's reputation as a troublemaker, his own death was foreshadowed through relationships between characters and the use of contrast, and the way he was killed was shown through Candy's dog's death. Although Steinbeck cannot recreate a Shakespeare, he has created his own "Steinbeck" style which no one else can recreate.

 

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