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How does the following quote/exchange, reflect the major theme in the novella,...

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How does the following quote/exchange, reflect the major theme in the novella, establish important qualities of character, show key imagery typical to the rest of the story, and expose important conflict in the story?

Chapter 1 - pg 16-17

(George speaking)
"O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re ... gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—"
(Lennie speaking)
"An’ live off the fatta the lan’," Lennie shouted. "An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that George."
(George speaking)
"Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it."
(Lennie speaking)
"No…you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on…George. How I get to tend the rabbits."
(George speaking)
"Well, we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we’ll just say the hell with goin’ to work, and we’ll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an’listen to the rain comin’ down on the roof—Nuts!..."

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The above exchange between George and Lennie in the novella "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck reflects the major theme of the story insomuch that it indicates the quest for a simple and fulfilled life living off the land in America, while experiencing the joys of friendship and common goals.

In this exchange, George and Lennie have hopes of a simple life together in peace, in a quaint rural environment where they can farm and essentially be free. They converse about their shared dream and what their hopes are (what they're looking forward to) - and this, in essence, is the main theme of the story.

The above exchange highlights George's character by showing that he is, and will continue to be, the caring friend and custodian of Lennie. Some of his impatient character seeps through as well with his comment...

"Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it."

However, he does assume his responsibilities of being the caretaker of Lennie.

Lennie's character comes through when he says he wants George to relate their dream. He feels it is better when George relates it. His humbleness and also lack of confidence comes through when he says this. This also reveals Lennie's deep trust in George.

This exchange talks of their hoped for future life together on a piece of land and the vision of their planned future life is in sync with the imagery of the story overall - the imagery of working off the land as well as travelling the countryside and enjoying the natural beauty of rural life.

Important conflict exposed is a sense of foreboding that all will not be well with George and Lennie. This exchange highlights the fact that Lennie needs George. The exchange hints that without George, Lennie may not survive, or at the very least he may bring trouble upon the two men.

This exchange, and the whole story in general, exposes the fact that George must always protect Lennie from himself and from others who are at the receiving end of Lennie's unintended harmful actions.



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