The Use Of Animal Imagery In John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men

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In the novella Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck often employs animal imagery to dehumanize Lennie, in order to allow the reader to justify George putting him down at the end of the novella. As Steinbeck’s use of animal imagery progresses throughout the novel, Lennie is dehumanized by being compared to an animal that only hinders George’s pursuit of happiness. Starting with Lennie’s introduction, Steinbeck influences how the reader perceives Lennie. During the reader's first encounter with Lennie, he is described as walking “heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws," (Steinbeck 2). Steinbeck’s diction invokes animal imagery by comparing Lennie’s movements to that of a bear, which immediately dehumanizes Lennie to the reader. As Lennie falls to his knees to gulp water “much like a horse” from the river, Steinbeck exercises diction to invoke animal imagery, relating Lennie’s manner of drinking water to a horse, bending down to drink from a river (Steinbeck 3). Steinbeck then inserts George’s comment that Lennie…show more content…
However, the way in which Steinbeck implements this “colorful language” is key to understanding why he used it at all. Ordinarily, an author would describe a character by their physical human traits rather than accentuating animal-like characteristics, which is how Steinbeck depicts Lennie. As a result of the utilization of Lennie’s animal-like depiction, Steinbeck subliminally dehumanizes Lennie in the reader's mind and justifies the death of animals at the hands of their masters.
Ultimately, in Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck dehumanizes Lennie to the reader through the use of animal imagery, in order to allow the reader to justify Lennie’s death at the hands of his best friend, George as a warranted act of
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