Of Mice and Men is set along the Salinas River a few miles south of
Soledad in the fallen world of the Salinas Valley, which Steinbeck
places "east of Eden" the Promised Land is only a painful and illusory
dream. This land is populated by "sons of Cain", men doomed to walk
alone. One of the major themes that comes from this is loneliness, or
fear of apartness. One of the themes of Of Mice and Men is that men
fear loneliness, that they need someone to be with and to talk to who
will offer understanding and companionship.
Soledad is a Spanish word and translates into English as solitude or
loneliness. This country is one of such loneliness that George and
Lennie stand out sharply because they have one another or, as George
says, "We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us.
The dream of the farm symbolizes their commitment to each other.
George and Lennie's dream represents a desire to challenge the curse
of Cain and fallen man they want to break the pattern of wandering and
loneliness and return to the perfect garden. In the real world George
and Lennie achieve as much of their dream as possible.
The influence of George and Lennie's commitment to each other and to
their dream has for just a moment made Slim, Candy, and Crooks, men
who worked at the ranch, broken the grip of loneliness and solitude in
which they exist. Lennie's longing for the rabbits and all soft,
living things symbolizes the longing all men have for warm, living
In the novel is the little spot by the river where the story begins
and ends. It is here we first see George and Lennie enter from the
highway to an outside world. Coming to a cave or thicket by the river
... middle of paper ...
..." The key word "directly" is used by Steinbeck to place heavy
emphasis on Slim's act. As Of Mice and Men ends, you see George and
Slim walking off to have a drink. Steinbeck is placing emphasis on the
new friendship between George and Slim.
This novel began with two men, George and Lennie, climbing down to the
river from the highway and it ends with two men, George and Slim,
climbing back up from the river to the highway. The fact that George
is not left alone has great significance. In the fallen world of the
valley, where man's commitment to each other is the only
understandable and obtainable dream, the fact that in the end of the
story as well as in the beginning, two men walking together causes
this book to end on a strong note of hope-the central theme of this
story, man's commitment to man (George's commitment to Lennie), did
not die with Lennie.
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