In the book Of Mice and Men, it is evident that the friendship between George and Lennie is strong. They have each other and that makes them different from all of other characters. They are not necessarily stuck in the circle of all ranchers; they have a chance to go onto bigger things. The story takes place during the Great Depression. Finding a job and remaining optimistic was hard back then. Lennie and George work through the though times together and remain happy with each other’s company. Through this, Steinbeck reveals the theme that hope and companionship is necessary to survive.
Candy shows that companionship and hope are necessary to survive. His best friend and lifelong companion were his sheep dog. He grew up with him herding sheep when he was young. That dog gave Candy reason to live. He didn’t have much hope because of his age, but because Candy had a friend, he could live happily. Unfortunately, not everybody was so tolerable to the “dragfooted sheep dog, gray of muzzle, and with pale, blind old eyes.” The dog smelled so Carlson shot it, taking away Candy’s companion. This left Candy without a friend and much hope. He was down in the dumps until he heard George and Lennie talk about the farm that they are going to own one day. This brings Candy’s hope up and he has something to live for once again. He spends all his time planning how their farm is going to be and the jobs they are all going to do. He can’t stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, his dream is crushed when Lennie does a bad thing. Candy is once again just a normal rancher without hope or a real friend. He will live the rest of his life unhappy. Candy shows that you can’t survive unless you have hope and a companion.
Crooks also proves that hope and companionship are needed to survive. He even says it himself; “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. I tell ya a guy gets too lonely and he gets sick.” This is something that Crooks would know, because he doesn’t have any friends. He is black and living during the Great Depression, and unfortunatley there was intolerance for black people back then. He is also crippled, which doesn’t help. Crooks would take any friend he could get, even someone as crazy as him. That’s why he lets Lennie in his room, then he at least has someone to talk to, even if they don’t make any sense. Just being around other people that treat him equal makes him feel good. When he hears about George, Lennie, and Candy’s plan to buy a farm and live of the fat of the land, he gains hope. He thinks that he can escape the world he is stuck in and becomes optimistic for a short while. Curly’s wife immediately gets rid of any hope he had by reducing him down to nothing. When she yelled at Crooks, he “drew into himself.” After she’s done yelling at him, everyone leaves and he is back to being alone without hope. Crooks shows that hope and companionship are necessary to survive.
The fact that companionship and hope are necessary to survive is well demonstrated by Lennie and George. They have each other, which separates them from the other men. The other ranchers don’t have anyone “that gives a hoot in hell” for them. Slim says, “Ain’t many guys travel around together. I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” There is a lot of truth in this, because there was competition for jobs during the Great Depression. Most men were just trying to do the best they could for themselves, as it was hard to find work and earn money at the time. It was also their instinct to compete and be wary of others that could challenge for their job. George and Lennie teamed up instead of turning on one another. Lennie was big and strong, so he could do hard work. George was smaller, but he was smart, friendly, and crafty, which George lacked. These characteristics paired together enabled them to find a job together and stay out of trouble, for the most part. Their companionship gave them hope. Since had a job and were making money, they had a dream of one day buying a farm of their own. This dream helped to keep them working together; thinking that one day their fantasy might come true. They came very close to accomplishing their goal, but their hopes were destroyed by someone without hope or companionship, Curly’s wife. Because Lennie and George had a friendship and hope, they had a chance.
All of these examples show that you need a friend and hope to live happily. George and Lennie had each other, and just having that company gave them a chance to go onto bigger things. They also always had someone to talk to, which Crooks lacked. Crooks wasn’t happy because he didn’t have and real friends. He was also black, which didn’t give him much hope of going on to greater things. Curly had his dog, which gave him company, and then he took part in George and Lennie’s dream of owning a farm. Unfortunatley for him both of these things that made him happy were taken away and he could not live a good life any longer. Companionship and hope are needed to survive.
This academia was first published 11 Feb 2004 and last revised 13 Feb 2016.Adam Cap is a sometimes raconteur, rare dingus collector, and webmaster probably best known for SixPrizes (serving as “El Capitan”) and PkmnCards (read: fine art purveyor). He scrapbooks yonder every minute or three.
The following analytical paper topics are designed to test your understanding of this novel as a whole and to analyze important themes and literary devices. Following each question is a sample outline to help you get started.
Loneliness is a dominant theme in Of Mice and Men. Most of the characters are lonely and searching for someone who can serve as a companion or just as an audience. Discuss the examples of character loneliness, the efforts of the characters in search of companionship, and their varying degrees of success.
I. Thesis statement: In his novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck depicts the essential loneliness of California ranch life in the 1930s. He illustrates how people are driven to find companionship.
II. Absence of character names
A. The Boss
B. Curley’s wife
III. George and Lennie
A. Consider each other family
B. Lennie described as a kind of pet
C. George’s philosophy about workers who travel alone
D. The Godlike Slim as George’s audience
A. Candy’s attachment to his dog
B. The death of his dog
C. His request to join George and Lennie
D. His need to share his thoughts with Lennie
A. Isolated by his skin color
B. His eagerness for company
C. His desire to share the dream of the farm
VI. Curley’s wife
A. Flirting with the workers
B. Talking to Crooks, Candy, and Lennie in the barn
C. Persuading Lennie to listen to her
VII. The hope and power when people have companions
A. George and Lennie
VIII. The misery of each when companionship is removed
The novel Of Mice and Men is written using the same structure as a drama, and meets many of the criteria for a tragedy. Examine the novel as a play. What conventions of drama does it already have? Does it fit the definition of a tragedy?
I. Thesis statement: Steinbeck designed his novel Of Mice and Men as a drama, more specifically, a tragedy.
II. The novel can be divided into three acts of two chapters (scenes)
A. First act introduces characters and background
B. Second act develops conflicts
C. Third act brings resolution
III. Settings are simple for staging
IV. Most of the novel can be transferred into either dialogue or stage directions
A. Each chapter opens with extensive detail to setting
B. Characters are described primarily in physical terms
V. The novel fits the definition of tragedy
A. The protagonist is an extraordinary person who meets with misery
B. The story celebrates courage in the face of defeat
C. The plot ends in an unhappy catastrophe that could not be avoided
There are many realistic and naturalistic details in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
Discuss how Steinbeck is sympathetic and dispassionate about life through the presentation of realism and naturalism.
I. Thesis Statement: Steinbeck displays a sympathetic and a dispassionate attitude toward man’s and nature’s condition through the use of realistic and naturalistic details.
II. Realism—things as they are
A. Setting of chapter one
B. Description of the bunk house
C. Dialect and slang of the characters
D. Dress and habits of the characters
E. Death as a natural part of life
III. Naturalism—fate at work
A. Animal imagery to describe people
2. Curley’s wife
B. Lower class characters
C. Place names
1. Light and dark
2. Dead mouse and pup
3. Lennie’s desire to leave the ranch
4. Candy’s crippled dog
5. Solitaire card game
E. Symbolism in the last chapter
1. Heron and snake
2. Gust of wind
3. Slim’s comment
The story of George and Lennie lends itself to issues found in the question: Am I my brother’s keeper? Does man have an obligation to take care of his fellow man, and what is the price that must be paid if the answer is “yes” or if the answer is “no”?
I. Thesis Statement: Steinbeck shows that there is a great price to be paid for not being sensitive to the needs of others as well as for taking care of others.
II. The vulnerable ones
III. The heartless ones
A. The boss
C. Curley’s wife
IV. The insensitive one—Carlson
V. The sensitive ones
The American Dream is for every man to have a place of his own, to work and earn a position of respect, to become whatever his will and determination and hard work can make him. In Of Mice and Men the land becomes a talisman, a hope of better things. Discuss the American Dream as presented in the novel.
I. Thesis Statement: For the characters in this novel, the American Dream remains an unfulfilled dream.
II. The dream
A. Owning a home
B. Enjoying freedom to choose
C. Living off the fat of the land
D. Not having to work so hard
E. Having security in old age or sickness
III. The dream’s unrealistic aspects
A. Too good to be true
B. A pipe dream for bindle stiffs
C. Lack of money
IV. George and Lennie’s attitude toward the dream
A. Was a comfort in time of trouble
B. Did not really believe in the dream
V. Crooks’s attitude toward the dream
A. His belief
B. His disappointment
VI. Candy’s attitude toward the dream
A. His belief
B. His money
C. His disappointment at the end