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What does the Salinas River symbolize in "Of Mice and Men"?

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vini14 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 30, 2008 at 3:24 AM via web

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What does the Salinas River symbolize in "Of Mice and Men"?

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dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 30, 2008 at 4:23 AM (Answer #1)

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The Salinas River is mentioned in Chapter 1 and then again in Chapter 6 of the novel.  This is the place that George tells Lennie to run to if he gets into trouble.  In Chapter 6, after the murderous event that take place between Lennie and Curley's wife, Lennie runs to the Salinas River because this is what he has been advised by George to do.  The Salinas River symbolizes a safe haven for Lennie; it is a place where he believes he will be safe and where he believes George will be able to find him.  Even the mercy killing of Lennie by George at the end of the novel at the Salinas River does keep Lennie safe from the torture that Curley and his men would put Lennie through if they found him first. 

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clareb2011 | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted January 9, 2012 at 12:06 AM (Answer #2)

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The Salinas river is a safe haven for Lennie to shelter. It is a calm santucary and acts as a contrast to the rest of the novella.

On the second description there are clues that Lennies life is ending:

- Sun going down --> reflecting on Lennies life

- The watersnake doesn't die so something will i.e. Lennie

- A second watersnake emerges --> cycle

- The cycle idea is also backed up by the fact the novella starts and finishes at the river

- The description seems forced and not so fluid --> theres a problem

The river starts and finishes the novella. It is like a link running through the whole poem. Water is usually means new life however this is a contradiction. When the river theme emerges again we know that the book is closing to an end as a complete cycle has commenced.

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