Quests In Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

879 Words4 Pages
A quest that is doomed from its inception will always cause irreparable damage to its participants. Whether failure comes in the form of death or abandonment, at the deepest level, the questers realize that their journey is hopeless, creating an emotion that alters their behavior and character. In Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor, his analysis of quests in literature, and in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men’s tragic climax in which two companions must part ways in the form of murder, the harrowing effects of a journey with impossible aspirations are proven, both through the fundamental elements of quests across literature, and through the personal journeys of companions George and Lennie, the ending of which triggers…show more content…
As seen in Foster’s analysis of quests, he writes, “The real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge” (3). While most may think of self-knowledge as enlightenment, sometimes characteristics are revealed that are negative. Such is the case with George in Of Mice and Men. In the climactic scene in the clearing, George comforts Lennie, while preparing himself for what he knows he must do. Steinbeck writes, “George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger” (106). One immediately feels the earth-shattering effects of this one gunshot, and the collapse of their quest it brings with it. Immediately it is proven that as George has the realization that there is no way out, and his quest has failed, his character changes; in fact he becomes more determined than ever. Not only does societal pressure break his resolve, the realization that his quest for freedom is in vain washes over him and removes the hope in his heart. George is clearly shocked and emptied as he absorbs the events occurring, as Steinbeck writes, “George sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away” (107). Steinbeck proves the effects of failure with the emotion he portrays through George in the final page of his
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