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Humanity In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

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George Milton and Lennie Small travel the Salinas Valley for work. While many workers travelled alone during the depression, that is not the case for this pair. George and Lennie leave a town called Weed, and find work on a ranch. Through working at the ranch, Lennie faces the consequences of accidentally killing a woman. Even though Lennie’s troubled mind is more of a burden to George, he does not leave him. In Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, he conveys the crueler side of humanity through the use of characterization, tone, and imagery. Through characterization, Steinbeck conveys the toxic traits of the workers on the ranch. When George is talking about what happened in Weed, he tells Slim that Lennie had scared a woman by grabbing…show more content…
In the barn, Curley’s wife encourages Lennie to feel her hair. As Lennie is petting the hair, she starts screaming. Panicked, Lennie, “shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck” (Steinbeck 88). Lennie’s moment of panic demonstrates that though what he did was unintentional, he is still dangerous. The sight of a human killing another displays humanity is unforgiving, and murderous. The murder of Curley’s wife demonstrates a dark, heavy feeling to the book, an unexpected one. Steinbeck creates an ominous tone through the use of Lennie’s killing. After Curley’s wife is dead, Lennie runs to the brushes. George finds Lennie and with his gun, contemplates on killing him. 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” (Steinbeck 104). As George does not know if he is making the right decision, there is a heavy atmosphere to this scene. With George about to end a life, it demonstrates how cruel humans can be. George killing Lennie conveys how humans can easily dispose of a life. Steinbeck uses tone to show the darker side of his book, and to examine how cruel human nature really…show more content…
When Lennie is in the barn, he first is petting Curley’s wife’s hair. This suddenly escalates into Lennie putting his hand over her mouth: “she struggled violently under his hands. Her feet battered on the hay and she writhed to be free; and from under Lennie’s hand came a muffled screaming. Lennie began to cry with fright” (Steinbeck 88). Lennie seems frightened of the woman, though he is not the victim. The instinct to immediately put his hand over the mouth of the wife is an example of how terrifying human are. The surges of panic Curley’s wife feels conveys that Lennie is the true villain in the book, not the protagonist. After Lennie kills Curley’s wife, she lays, “with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive” (Steinbeck 90). Steinbeck writes that Curley’s wife’s traits are prettier when she is dead to demonstrate that around this time, and this society, women were viewed as lesser than man. Curley’s wife’s personality is conveyed as lovelier when she is not able to talk or move, when she is dead. Through characterization, Steinbeck demonstrates multiple people with traits that are dangerous and toxic, that demonize an entire gender. Violence, and accidental
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