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John Steinbeck’s style in the novella ‘Of Mice And Men’ reflects the original idea for the story (a three act play which necessarily would have included plenty of dialogue) and his life experiences. The style is down to earth, no-nonsense, clear but colourful and is powerful in getting the author’s message across. He can be informative, symbolic and poetic in the same sentence :
‘a silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the heard, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.’
and can also evoke the atmosphere of the ranch by using the colloquial language and dialect of the ranch hands he knew so well :
‘He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good to himself. Why 'nt you shoot him Candy?’
Realism in Steinbeck’s writing was essential to the novella’s success because it was attention-grabbing and different. It brought a new experience, albeit shocking, to the reader who was able to feel as if he too had entered the bunkhouse and lived for a while with the men.
John Steinbeck knew the lives of the ranch hands well from the time he spent growing up and watching them work. He was born in the USA in Salinas, California, in 1902. His family was quite rich but he took an interest in the lives of the ranch hands and worked with them, closely observing their ways and culture and using his observations as writing material. He must have seen the comparison between the lives of people like himself (comfortable, even through tough times in the Great Depression because they were already ‘set up’ ) and theirs (no-hopers.) The ranch hands and the class they belonged to were drifitng further and further away from the higher echelons of society. Steinbeck’s style often echoes moods of negativity, depression and pessimism - true to the business mood of the times.
The American Dream was over for a whole country, but Lennie and George still believed in it, that they were
'gonna have a little house'
'live off the fatta the lan'.
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