The Importance of Place and Destination in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Eudora Welty once said “Every story would be another story, and unrecognisable, if it used up its characters and plot happened somewhere else … fiction depends for its life on location”. This applies especially to John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice And Men’ (OMAM); set in California throughout the Great Depression, location is a popular feature throughout and its discussion is used to trace the primary characters’ advancement and highlight development of themes throughout the book. Steinbeck uses various aspects of language, grammar and form in order to effect his desired location and we see a combination of these devices even from the start.

In the opening chapter of “Of Mice and Guy”, the unique deals a picturesque scene explaining the city: “A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in near to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has actually slipped shimmering over the yellow sands in the sunshine before reaching the narrow pool.” Steinbeck wrote his opening scene with many descriptive words and making use of brilliant colour words to enhance the scene’s natural charm. “Soledad” is discussed in the very first sentence of the chapter, and being Spanish for ‘lonesome’ or ‘solitude’ it not just foreshadows the crucial style of seclusion throughout the unique, however also adds a melancholy note to the preliminary place. Sibilance is used here from ‘A few miles south of Soledad’ to ‘The Salinas River’ adding to the brush’s serene environment. Steinbeck presents this place as a backwoods, a green hillside bank. Green being the colour of nature improves the scene’s natural charm while also emitting connotations of growth and harmony. It also offers a psychological correspondence to security which is easy to understand due to its rurality and this, structurally, connect why George tells Lennie to return to the brush if he gets into problem. Pathetic misconception is utilized in the phrase “The water is warm too” creating a positive, unified atmosphere. The colour yellow and the word ‘sparkling’ in this quotation release undertones of happiness and positivity; this may suggest to the reader that the brush is safe. Absolutely nothing man-made is discussed in the first page and we exist with a location filled with imagery. The picturesque atmosphere allows us to comprehend why George demands staying the night in this place. For him, it represents the American Dream, his want to own such a location in the future.

Steinbeck comments upon the opening scene so that when we reach completion of the unique, we can see the book is cyclical. Nature is explained excessively in the very first paragraph of the first chapter and the very first paragraph of the last chapter and although both are describing the very same place, we can see the contrast in between the two paragraphs as it shows how George and Lennie’s relationship has advanced through the story and where it is heading. Steinbeck specifically discusses the ‘Salinas River’ and the ‘Gabilan Mountains’ in the 2 chapters, to take this into account. In the opening, we keep in mind that the very first page remains in present tense, ‘drops … runs’ etc, advising us that this is a genuine place that it will dominate even when the tales of the males who visit it have actually run their course and are ended. It relates to the style of damaged dreams however also another example of why the novel is cyclical; the mention of these places in the very first chapter and after that Steinbeck discussing them again in the last chapter is foreshadowing that the constant cycle that George and Lennie would go through is inescapable. Whilst this signals the awful kind and result, it also reveals the extreme world and absence of hope present in the lives of the migrant employees.

A significant location in ‘Of Mice And Males’ is the accommodation where the ranch employees remain, consisting of the two protagonists George and Lennie. In the opening sentence of Section Two Steinbeck explains the bunkhouse as “… a long, rectangle-shaped structure. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted” and quickly we can see that the description of the bunkhouse is incredibly simplified, by telling us that the walls were whitewashed, the flooring unpainted, the structure having no effort to make the interior appearance anything more than standard programs us that it lacks character connecting to life on the ranch, plain, simple and potentially boring. Adjectives such as ‘long’ and ‘rectangle-shaped’ absence ostentation, whilst ‘whitewash’ is the normal surface for practical, device sheds or animal shelters. The lexis basically indicates functionality; there is no sense of house or comfort yet this is where migrant workers should live for the majority of their lives. The bunkhouse is symbolic of how the cattle ranch employees are dealt with like tools, in a making use of sense. Steinbeck highlights the contrast in between the ranch/bunkhouse in the second chapter with the freedom of nature in the first. Their lives are a virtual jail, their ‘home’ provided as such, doing not have in any sense of household or house.

Another essential location in ‘Of Mice And Males’ is Crooks’ room, very first mentioned at the start of Chapter 4. The description of Crooks’ room and possessions significantly illuminates the injustice and equality faced at this time. “… the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn.” This immediately points out a significant oppression towards Crooks. Scoundrels being the only black male on the ranch signals him to be dealt with as a castaway. Criminals’ bunk is squashed into a ‘little shed’, the adjective ‘little’ stresses that it is considerably smaller than anticipated and the ‘little shed’ being the harness space implies that Crooks stays with the equipment. Steinbeck likewise mentions that the harness room leans off the barn showing that even the horses and other animals that stay in the barn are treated with more importance than Crooks, leaning indicating the state of the building as an afterthought. Criminals’ bunk is referred to as “a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung” and in this discussion Steinbeck continues to highlight the social discrimination. The ‘long box’ suggests again that he is viewed as not equal to man, a ‘box’ frequently a non reusable container, intended to store objects. Straw is likewise utilized for animals, showing that he essentially sleeps in a manger, not on a mattress. The verb ‘flung’ might possibly recommend Scoundrels’ sense of despondence or ultimately his anger and aggravation over the bigotry he is constantly confronted with throughout his life on the ranch.

To conclude, referring back to Eudora Welty stating “… fiction depends for its life on place” we can plainly see that place and setting throughout ‘Of Mice And Males’ is an essential function to the unique and the story would be ‘unrecognisable’ without these substantial places. Steinbeck’s use of these places set an atmosphere and tone, while likewise strengthening essential messages such as the books major styles; damaged dreams etc. All the settings show the poverty of the employees and the social marginalisation that they deal with. This is stressed by the fulsome language utilized by Steinbeck to explain the fertility and abundance of the natural world that surrounds them, a point that drives home the catastrophe of the book is that the ranch workers never ever gain from the possibilities that the world has to provide them.

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