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How Does Steinbeck's Distinctive Use of Language/ Structure/ Imagery Contribute to the Themes in of Mice and Men?

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Essay title: How Does Steinbeck's Distinctive Use of Language/ Structure/ Imagery Contribute to the Themes in of Mice and Men?

How does Steinbeck’s distinctive use of language/ structure/ imagery contribute to the themes in Of Mice And Men?

The overriding themes in Of Mice And Men are those of the American dream and the theme of friendship and loyalty between the characters, especially between George and Lennie.

The fragility of these dreams is what Of Mice And Men is based around. These themes and relationships are shown throughout the book in a number of ways and are added to by the use of language and structure but particularly imagery.

The imagery used is mostly animal imagery. Steinbeck uses animal metaphors and similes to strengthen the descriptions of the particularly important scenes and give dialogue or the actions made by the characters more emphasis. This animal imagery is used many times throughout the book, each time in a different way and lending a different effect to the passage.

In one section of the book, (p 90) Curley is described “flopping like a fish”. This not only makes him seem inferior to Lennie but makes him seem inferior to man. His status is lowered from a powerful man to a small squirming fish. A very similar simile is used later on in the novel where Curley’s wife is killed she is described: “her body flopped like a fish”. This similarity takes two people with power of some kind; Curley’s being the power over the other ranchers who he tries to intimidate and Curley’s wife’s being that she feels she has the power of seduction and also dominance over the only person on the ranch whose status is lower than hers as a woman, Crooks. It then shows how pathetic and dwarfed they are by Lennie.

This same effect is used to lower other people’s status in the book however in some these places it is not as demeaning as the fish simile. At the same time at which Curley’s wife dies, Lennie is made to seem like an animal. “He pawed” He is also made to seem clumsy by this, reinforcing the story that it was an accident and that he is trying to be gentle, with the animal being referred to taking the possibility of a dog with the sweet but dopey manners or, at the same time a bear, big and clumsy but vicious.

The story has come full circle to its unavoidable end, and this tragic feeling of inevitability is used on numerous other occasions in the novel, especially in its culmination.

Steinbeck describes in great detail how a water snake 'swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron.' The water snake is a representation of Lennie, who lasted the whole summer working on a ranch, but eventually came across fate, the heron, and “done a real bad thing”. Steinbeck goes on to depict,

“A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.”

Just like this water snake, Lennie is inexorably life's victim. Through this gloomy end, Steinbeck further portrays a blighted world where all dreams are doomed to failure.

The cyclic style of the book as a whole is added

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"How Does Steinbeck's Distinctive Use of Language/ Structure/ Imagery Contribute to the Themes in of Mice and Men?." EssaysForStudent.com. 12, 2009. Accessed 12, 2009. https://www.essaysforstudent.com/essays/How-Does-Steinbeck's-Distinctive-Use-of-Language-Structure/27724.html.