Of Mice and Men recounts the story of two itinerant ranch hands who, despite their apparent differences, are dependent on each other. Lennie Small, by far the better worker of the two, suffers not only from limited intelligence but also from an overwhelming desire to caress soft objects. These traits, combined with his uncontrollable strength, set the stage for disaster.
The fact that a disaster has not already occurred is largely the result of the vigilance of Lennie’s traveling companion, George Milton. Being aware of Lennie’s limitations, George does his best to keep Lennie focused on their mutual dream of owning their own spread, raising rabbits, and being in charge of their own lives. He also ushers Lennie out of town whenever the locals misinterpret his friend’s actions.
When the reader first encounters Lennie and George, they are setting up camp in an idyllic grove near the Gabilan mountains. It is lush and green and inhabited by all varieties of wild creatures. It represents, as the ensuing dialogue makes clear, a safe haven—a place where both humans and beasts can retreat should danger threaten. This setting provides author John Steinbeck with a context against which to portray the ranch to which George and Lennie travel the next day. The ranch, as he describes it, is a world without love and in which friendship is viewed as remarkable.
Steinbeck frames the desolation of ranch life by having George and Lennie comment on how different their lives are and having the other ranch hands comment on how unusual it is for two men to travel together. The hired hands have no personal stake in the ranch’s operation and, for the most part, no stake in one another’s well-being. Although they bunk together and play an occasional game of cards or horseshoes, each is wary of his peers. It is for this reason that Lennie and George’s friendship is questioned by everyone and why their dream of owning their own place is so infectious, especially to men such as Crooks and Candy, both of whom long to escape this loveless, isolated existence. Complementing this theme are the description of Candy and his dog and Crooks’s analysis of what it means to have a friend. Even Curley’s wife is used to reinforce the message. She is a woman who, despite her own dreams of grandeur, finds herself living on a ranch where she is perceived as a threat and an enemy by all the hired hands.
To underscore the situation, Steinbeck adopts restricted third-person narration and employs a tone that can best be described as uninvolved. His technique is an outgrowth of his desire to fuse dramatic and novelistic techniques into a new literary format, which he called the “play-novelette.” Accordingly, he relies on setting and dialogue to convey his message. For this reason, he begins each chapter with a compendium of details that allows readers to envision the scenes much as they might were they watching a staged presentation. Once he has outlined the surroundings, however, he steps away and relies on dialogue to carry the main thread of the story.
Significantly, Steinbeck begins and ends the novel at the campsite. This circular development reinforces the sense of inevitability that informs the entire novel. Just as Lennie is destined to get into trouble and be forced to return to the campsite so, too, will George be forced to abandon the dream of owning his own farm. Instead, he will be reduced to the status of a lonely drifter, seeking earthly pleasures to alleviate the moral isolation and helplessness that Steinbeck suggests is part of the human condition.
This essay is devoted to such prominent masterpiece as “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. A hero by definition is a person admired for certain qualities and achievements. Among these qualities are courage, bravery, and an intense care for others. These are heroic qualities because without courage, you cannot stand up for yourself or other people and what you believe is right. You must have bravery to put your beliefs into action, and you must care for others because … A hero does not become a hero because he has a cape or special powers; he is a hero because of his heroic qualities. For example, a firefighter can be looked upon as a hero because of his courage and fearlessness because of the risks he takes to save people. A soldier personifies a hero because of his pride and care for what he is fighting for.
In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, George is a man who is clever and very ambitious. But among the problems in his way of becoming successful is his mentally challenged friend Lennie. Wherever they both set down to work, Lennie always seems to get into trouble and they have to leave to find more work. In a town called Weed where George and Lennie worked before going to the ranch, Lennie was accused of harassing a girl just because he wanted to touch her dress and wouldn’t let go. They had to flee from the town and find work elsewhere. George knows that he could find work and be much better off without Lennie, but he is faithful to his friend because he promised to take care of him.
I believe that George is a hero because of his faithfulness to Lennie no matter what kind of trouble Lennie gets into. George looks after Lennie and takes him wherever he goes. George says in chapter 1 “I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail.” George later cautions Lennie to stay away from Curley, to keep Lennie safe and out of trouble. Deep down I believe George knows that something is bound to happen that will get both himself and Lennie into hot water. Although George knows he could be better off and maybe even accomplish his goal of owning his own land and having his own things, his care for Lennie remains constant throughout the book. This is George’s most heroic quality. Even up until the turning point of the book when George chooses Lennie’s fate, he knows that killing him would be better for Lennie rather than having him suffer under speculation and accusations. Even though George sometimes gets fed up with having to always watch out for his slow friend, I think that George is glad to have someone there that depends on him as much as Lennie does. George feels important because he has someone who totally relies on him.
Lennie sees George as a hero because he is smarter, cares for him, and has dreams and goals that Lennie is sure George can accomplish. In Lennie’s eyes, George can do no wrong. Lennie depends on his friend to take care of him, console him, and try to keep him out of trouble. Lennie is almost fully dependent on George. I think that without George, Lennie would sometime meet a problem that he couldn’t solve or escape on his own, and he would eventually be in a situation resulting in a bad ending.
George becomes a hero to Candy when he lets him in on the dream and makes it real to him as well. This isn’t something that is heroic about George, but he is the only person that Candy has ever known to have goals and plans to accomplish them. George becomes a hero to Slim when he puts everything aside to save Lennie, even if it means killing him. Slim knows the story about Lennie getting into trouble in Weed, and he understands that Lennie needs constant care. Slim has a great amount of respect for George when he realizes all of the sacrifices he has had to make to take responsibility for Lennie. He later gains a greater respect for George when he takes Lennie’s fate into his own hands. I think Slim is one of the only ones throughout the book that understands George and his reasoning for killing his friend.
I disagree with Steinbeck’s comment that “only heroes are worth writing about”. If only heroes were worth writing about, there would be no Lennie, no Candy, or any other characters. If there were no other characters and just the hero, there wouldn’t be much of a story. If every person was a hero, every person would be the same and no one would be a hero at all. It takes an average character to elevate another person to a heroic status.
Of Mice and Men is a story of dreams, hard reality, and tragedy. Steinbeck’s portrayal of a hero is shown throughout the novel. Even though everyone subconsciously knows that George’s dream is an unrealistic goal, they still put everything they have into making it real. George has no supernatural powers or cape. His faithfulness, compassion, and respectable character are all qualities that make him a hero.
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