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Steinbeck's own words might be helpful here. Steinbeck referred to Of Mice and Men as a "little book," that sought to explore "the tragic miracle of consciousness." Steinbeck's words help to indicate his suggestions in his composition. Steinbeck is trying to illuminate the complex condition of what it means to be a modern human being, filled with the potential for greatness and the reality of sadness. In this paradox, Steinbeck's novel can be read. Scholars tend to examine Steinbeck's work in this light, as well, suggesting that "what saved Steinbeck from constant excess was a compassion that was, in much of his writing, balanced and disciplined by a very objective view of the world and of man." Steinbeck wishes to explore this tendency in the novel, constructing a reality that is both objective, and yet a socially realistic piece that wishes to depict reality as to what it is and construct in the minds of the reader what can be. In a condition where Lennie has to be killed, Steinbeck brings out the reality and the notion of inspiring change within the reader to suggest that consciousness can be more. It is here where Steinbeck's suggestion of "compassion," a behavior that he saw as instrumental to how human beings saw themselves and their world.
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