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What are the symbols in the novel "Mice of Men," and what do those symbols represent?...

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kennedy12 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 20, 2009 at 9:16 AM via web

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What are the symbols in the novel "Mice of Men," and what do those symbols represent? Thank you very much for your help!

 

 

 

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 20, 2009 at 10:50 AM (Answer #1)

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Numerous symbols in "Of Mice and Men" work to express and develop Steinbeck's central themes; some are more significant, perhaps, than others, but each of them makes an important contribution to the work.

The mouse that Lennie carries in his pocket can be interpreted as a symbol for Lennie himself. A mouse is generally of no value to others, and it occupies a low place among other animals. It is frequently reviled as being undesirable, and destroying it generally causes no concern. Much the same can be said of Lennie among his own species. Unlike others, however, Lennie values the mouse he carries in his pocket, just as George, unlike others, finds much in Lennie to value.

The ranch that George and Lennie dream of symbolizes their desire (and the human desire) for a worthwhile life of freedom and independence. Because of their social circumstances and the economic system that imprisons them, their dream is unattainable, always just beyond their reach. Much the same can be said of the many who live on the fringes of American society, the homeless and the hopeless whom Steinbeck championed in this novel and many of his other works.

If George and Lennie's ranch symbolizes the life they dream of, the bunkhouse symbolizes the life to which they are consigned. Bare and utilitarian, it offers no sense of home; it is a stopping-off place for George, Lennie, and the others who will never have homes of their own. The separate quarters where Crooks must live, segregated from the others because of his race, mirrors the racist society at large.

Finally, Candy's beloved old dog can be seen as a symbol of the fate that awaits all of these homeless men. The dog had lived many years, serving Candy well as friend and companion, easing his loneliness. Once the old dog had become a burden, however, the "society" in the bunkhouse determined that he must be destroyed. Candy cannot stand up to the pressure of this attitude, and gives in, feeling the deep pain of having his dog destroyed. The clear symbolic suggestion is that once these men have outlived their usefulness and become a burden, they, too, will receive no sympathy or support from others. Theirs is a grim future.

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jaspy | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 26, 2010 at 3:29 AM (Answer #2)

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One of the symbols in the story is Lennie’s puppy. Lennie and his puppy are very similar in the way that they are both innocent and weak and need strong people to take care of them. George is the strong person that takes care of Lennie. And to the puppy, Lennie is strong. The death of the puppy also foreshadows Lennie’s death.

Another symbol is the rabbits. George and Lennie hope to one day own a farm. The thing Lennie wants the most is the rabbits. The rabbits are soft and furry and Lennie loves to feel things like that. His love of soft things leads to his death.

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poopnumba1 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:36 AM (Answer #3)

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One of the symbols in the novel Of Mice and Men is Candy's old dog being shot. This part is also a foreshadowing of Lennie's death. Lennie got shot by George because George wanted Lennie to have a quick, painless death unlike Curley.

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masha97 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 15, 2012 at 12:59 PM (Answer #4)

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One of the symbols in the story is Lennie’s puppy. Lennie and his puppy are very similar in the way that they are both innocent and weak and need strong people to take care of them. George is the strong person that takes care of Lennie. And to the puppy, Lennie is strong. The death of the puppy also foreshadows Lennie’s death.

Another symbol is the rabbits. George and Lennie hope to one day own a farm. The thing Lennie wants the most is the rabbits. The rabbits are soft and furry and Lennie loves to feel things like that. His love of soft things leads to his death.

Also, One of the symbols in the novel Of Mice and Men is Candy's old dog being shot. This part is also a foreshadowing of Lennie's death. Lennie got shot by George because George wanted Lennie to have a quick, painless death unlike Curley.

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