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What is an example of figurative language in Of Mice and Men?  I need a specific quote...

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carmel66 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 30, 2009 at 9:49 AM via web

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What is an example of figurative language in Of Mice and Men?  I need a specific quote from the story.

John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 30, 2009 at 10:07 AM (Answer #1)

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Steinbeck's description of Slim, the skinner in "Of Mice and Men is quite figurative:

A tall man stood in the doorway....Like the others he wore blue jeans and a short denim jacket.  When he had finished combing his hair, he moved into the room, and he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen.  He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch [metaphor], capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders....There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke.  His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love.  This was Slim, the jerkline skinner.  His hatchet face [metaphor]was ageless.  His hear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought.  His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer [simile].

In another passage, Steinbeck writes of Slim's "calm,God-like eyes"; he is perceptive and understanding. A doer rather than a dreamer, Slim is the only one who comforts George after the death of Lennie.  He is the one heroic character in "Of Mice and Men" who acts with wisdom and stands "with dignity." 

Of course, the title of the novella, "Of Mice and Men" is a phrase pulled from a Robert Burns poem who rued that the "best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry" ; these lines prove prophetic in this work.  In addition, the setting of the Salinas Valley is metaphoric since Salinas in Spanish means solitary. And the loneliness of the men is significantly pivotal to the plot.

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