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What is the theme in "Of Mice and Men"?I need to know the morals and purpose of this book.
32 Answers | add yours
- Main theme: we must live for today; we can't know what the future will bring.
- Secondary theme: conflict, the American Dream, loneliness, friendship, strenght / weakness and power, woman, loyalties and sacrifices, racism.
High School Teacher
Steinbeck presents several themes in this work: loneliness, the elusiveness of the American Dream, and victimization.
The feeling of loneliness is palpable throughout the book. The men on the ranch travel by themselves and have no real connections to each other. Curley's wife spends her days wandering about the ranch, searching for someone with whom she can share her dreams. Crooks is segregated from the others, as he is not allowed to live in the bunkhouse with the others because he is black.
Candy and Crooks join George and Lennie in their quest for the American dream, when they try to become a part of the plan to buy a house on a small piece of land. They all seem to understand from the outset, though, that they will never realize this dream.
Finally, every one of the major characters is a victim. The ranch hands are victims of the boss's instructions and wishes. Curley's wife is a victim of a patriarchal society. Crooks is a victim of racism.
There is an excellent discussion of the themes of this book on eNotes.
Posted by lensor on March 7, 2008 at 9:53 AM (Answer #3)
i am currently doing a term paper on this book and there are many different themes. You just have to remember that a theme is what you percieve that the author is trying to get across to you. But for my paper i chose the theme of dreams. (The pursuit of an unrealistic dream can be demoralizing.) i got this from lennie and george and how they want to own there own farm and become their own bosses and george deep down inside he knows that that would never happen. Every character in this book has their own dream and none of them come true. There are many other themes such as lonieness, freindship, and many others. Just dont go by what other people say the theme is. think of what you think it is.
Posted by jobyrnscheer03 on April 28, 2009 at 8:50 AM (Answer #8)
This question has been answered. The link to the answer is provided below. I have also included the themes page of the enotes summary, which provides much useful information.
Let me add this information. Steinbeck's moral code includes and highlights loyalty. It is acceptable for George to lie and to commit murder because he does it all in order to be loyal to Lennie. He promised to take care of Lennie, and he is following through with it. The message is that to be a good man, you must show loyalty to those people you consider family.
Posted by sullymonster on March 1, 2008 at 6:37 AM (Answer #2)
High School Teacher
Loneliness is an ever-present theme in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck where each character experiences degrees of isolation. Crooks is physically and emotionally isolated from the other ranchers and from society due to racism. Curley's wife, who even lacks her own name let alone an identity separate from her husband, is disenfranchised, lonely, and powerless even though she has a husband. Candy, maimed and feeling useless, faces the isolation and powerlessness of advancing age in a world with no support system for the aging. Curly, who should be basking in the glow of newly-married bliss, is a pugilistic, frustrated, small man fighting everyone and connecting with no one.
George and Lennie are at times an appealing contrast to the lonely characters around them, but a closer look reveals their own isolation from each other and from society. Lennie's innocent, self-centered, one-track mind makes true communication with George all but impossible, aside from the momentary lapses into their "dream story" motif. George's loneliness is perhaps the most heroic and tragic. He has accepted the responsibility of helping another human being in need, with little hope of receiving much in return from the relationship. It is a sacrificial offering on George's part for which he is unprepared and in his solitude incapable of pulling off a happy ending.
The friendship is ended tragically, not as a result of loyalty, not because it is the right thing to do, (I shoulda shot my dog myself), but in a tragic turn of events in which in his islolation and loneliness, George can only see an act of euthanasia as a way to protect Lennie from a fate worse than death. With no one to turn to, no one to help, George ends up alone, guilty, and just another one of the Great Depression's dispossessed vagabonds.
Posted by williams3 on November 11, 2011 at 12:00 AM (Answer #16)
Posted by yuzumaki on January 26, 2012 at 4:04 AM (Answer #22)
Steinbeck's ability to create unforgettable themes is one of the many attributes of his work that made him a Nobel Prize winner in 1962.
The theme of Of Mice and Men is the importance of FRIENSHIP. George and Lennie are the best of friends, where George takes care of Lennie. However, there are many other examples of FRIENDSHIP in the novel: Crooks and Lennie, Slim and Curley, George and Candy.
Posted by kdslewis on May 31, 2011 at 3:11 AM (Answer #12)
There is four themes in the novel, there is dreams, friendship, discrimination and loneliness.
Stienbeck uses his characters to represent themes of the novel, "of mice and men" (first published 1937) Candy, Crooks, Lennie, George and Curley's wife represent the theme of loneliness. The friendship between Lennie and George forms the basis of this story. Theme of dreams is represented by Curley's Wife she dreams about being a famous actress and Lennie and George dream is to own farm. The characters rpresent themes in this novel.
loneliness is pretty much the maiin theme in the novel and movie. many characters are lonely, including Lennie, George, Candy and Crooks.
Posted by courtoo on May 17, 2010 at 4:22 PM (Answer #11)
there are two main theame in of mice and men. dreams and lonliness.
george is not lonley but has an american dream to own land
lennie is not lonley either but is angered by crooks when he says george will not come back. he dreams of having land with george and petting rabbits
curlys wife is lonley being the only woman on the ranch and with a husband she doesnt love and who doesnt love her and she dreams of fame and fortune by becoming a star.
candy candy is lonley with no real freinds as he is assertive but he has(had) his dog. dreams (and makes that dream seem real) of owning some land with george and lennie
crooks is lonley as he is segregated due to his colour of skin and dreams of having the same rights as a white man and living with the white man the same way he did when he was a child. he quickly dreamed of going and living with lennie, george and candy but quickly dismisses that dream
Posted by littlestudent on November 28, 2011 at 4:56 AM (Answer #17)
The main theme would be lonliness. Every charecter in the book is lonley.
Posted by sumon4544 on December 12, 2011 at 8:56 AM (Answer #19)
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The dominant theme is loneliness
Posted by elekzy on February 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM (Answer #24)
There are many themes in of mice and men as i have been studying in school but the main themes are
unimportance linked with the characters and mice as the are both unimportant
Posted by rachel-xx on February 19, 2012 at 1:38 AM (Answer #25)
the theme is light versus darkness, it's an re incarnation of the garden of eden in a way as curly's wife can be percieved as the serpent and George & Lenny, Adam & Eve, in that order. In the end she is the unmaking of their dreams.
Posted by dmlux on February 2, 2012 at 5:41 AM (Answer #23)
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"Of Mice and Men" is a skillful novel, which deals with the theme of `outsiders', that is, individuals who do not fit into the mainstream of society. The novel portrays this idea of loneliness throughout John Steinbeck's stimulating and exciting novel. There are several clearly identified themes running through the novel.
Posted by suvetha on April 12, 2012 at 4:03 AM (Answer #28)
Central to Steinbeck’s portrayal of ranch life is his creation of a distinct hierarchy. It becomes immediately clear that the Boss maintains the highest position. Through the symbolism of his lack of name, “The Boss” is defined as being almost like an uninvolved god-like figure. This impression is reinforced by his imposing body language; the daunting action, “he hooked his thumbs”, is used to demonstrate the superiority in his position. At the conclusion of his meeting with George and Lennie, he “abruptly” left, consequently stressing his self-importance.
Simply because of his connection to The Boss, Curley adopts a position of power. Corrupted by the authority, he possesses a threatening personality. This is exhibited by Steinbeck’s description of his physical appearance – his glance is “cold” and he adopts the stance of a fighter, with his “hands closed into fists”. Furthermore, he seems to think that he can assert his authority only by physically terrorising others, such as Lennie. The tension in their relationship is exhibited by Curley’s vicious threat, “Well, nex’ time you answer when you’re spoke to.” This bravado can be explained by the fact his status is undermined because his wife is not satisfied with their married relationship and is “eyeing” other men.
In juxtaposition to Curley, his wife is presented as having a very low status. Steinbeck doesn’t give her a name and this has a symbolic meaning that emphasises her second-class citizenship. It reflects the inferior role of women in society at that period in time and gives the impression that she is a “possession of Curley”; this is ironic, as they never seem to be together. Apart from referring to her as “Curley’s wife”, the author and some of character use many derogatory terms for example “tart” and “rat trap”. This shows that the men are wary of and don’t class her as an equal.
Similarly, Crooks also holds no authority and he has long been the victim of oppressive violence, due to the colour of his skin. He is often referred to as “nigger” by his fellow ranch workers and this dehumanising insult exhibits the lack of respect for him. Nevertheless, he gains self-confidence from the company of Lennie and Candy in his “bunk”; this encourages him to try to counter the intrusion of Curley’s Wife. However, his he humiliated by her consequential fierce threat, “I could get you strung up”. This brutal threat establishes the cruel power of white over black.
When Steinbeck first introduces Candy, he is just described as “the old man”. This generic term dehumanises him, showing the reader the low status he possesses, because of his old age. Moreover, he is shown to have no real place on the farm; exhibited by the way he was “jus’ standing in the shade”. The word “jus’” implies that he has nothing better to do, due to the other ranch workers; exclusion of him. This illustrates how, because of his age and his disability, he has become marginalized, as symbolised by the word “shade”.
Slim is the most respected person on the ranch. Steinbeck's descriptions of Slim suggest an idealised characterisation and he attaches images of royalty: “majesty” and “prince”. He exerts a natural authority as a result of his strong moral sense. His opinions are valued by the ranchers and his pronouncement about Candy’s dog, “he ain’t no good to himself”, seals its fate.
Posted by cornert07 on May 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM (Answer #31)
The theme of this book is that two man have dreams athat they always try to fallow up on!
they put there hopes above the others and safe money to make the dream come true!
hope this helps
Posted by yulia12 on March 27, 2008 at 1:00 PM (Answer #5)
High School Teacher
One major theme in "Of Mice and Men" is childhood idealism verses adult reality. Lennie has dreams of keeping rabbits while George knows that this idea is foolish. The beauty of Lennie's dreams is continually squashed by the reality of the adult world he lives in. Another theme is loneliness and friendship. George says "Guys like us that work on the ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no-place." Despite George's pessimistic view of his social standing, Lennie reminds him that they in fact have each other to socialize with and take care of.
Posted by morrol on December 3, 2008 at 5:46 AM (Answer #6)
Posted by popan006 on August 31, 2011 at 10:15 PM (Answer #13)
The main theme of mice and men are dreams and loneliness. They interlock people who are lonely have most need of dreams to help them through. Loneliness afects many of the character, and steinbecks seem to show that it is a natural and inevitable results of the the kind oflife they are forced to lead. The theme of dreams focuses on the the dreams of george, Lennie, candy, Curley's wife and crooks. it turned out that all of them has the same dream to own a piece of land except from Curley's wife, who's dream is to be a hollywood movie actress.
Posted by super1996 on October 24, 2011 at 12:30 AM (Answer #14)
there are different themes in the book but another is conflict.
Posted by komal786 on November 2, 2011 at 4:10 AM (Answer #15)
The main theme is lonelyness.
Posted by rachel-xx on March 19, 2012 at 10:09 PM (Answer #27)
Steinbeck was always concerned about the hard lives of the lowest classes in America, especially of the sharecroppers and itinerant farm laborers. He was also concerned with showing that these men are all different and not just one stereotype. Some are mean, some are kind, some are dumb, some are intelligent, some are lazy, some are hard workers, some are honest, some are dishonest. All of them have to struggle for existence because wages are low and jobs are scarce. When they get old they are cast off. If they get injured, like Crooks and Candy, they are even more desperate. The implicit theme of Steinbeck's novel is economic injustice. The men who own the land can make virtual slaves out of the men who have to survive by working on that land. It was impossible in that depression era for them to organize. George and Lennie had a tiny partnership which might have led to their owning a piece of their own land. Then Candy wanted to join and contribute his savings. And Crooks indicated that he would like to be included in the little communal enterprise. But even that cooperative effort failed.
Posted by billdelaney on August 29, 2012 at 12:15 AM (Answer #33)
One of the themes is love. The love is between Lennie and George's friendship, the show that they are like family and they stick by each other.
Posted by jcirruzzo on January 22, 2012 at 9:20 AM (Answer #21)
The thems in of mice and men are all quite diffirent firstly there is the theme of lonliness which is quite evident in the novle it is also a recuring theme.The theme of companionship is also quite common as the writer try to portray the theme of companionship throught the characters thoughts and feelings.The last theme which i think is also a key theme is the theme of the American dream the American dream is quite popolur as all the charecters share the desire to live a better life and find something better which is each persons dream.although it seems quite impossible the charecters pin their hopes on their dreams as this was the only think they had to look forward to in this great depration during the 1930s.
Posted by agent21 on March 16, 2012 at 6:59 AM (Answer #26)
Posted by umi6683 on May 12, 2012 at 3:57 AM (Answer #29)
There are a number of themes in "Of Mice and Men" ranging from the main themes of loneliness,dreams and violence which affect every character in the book to lesser seen themes such as social outcasts.
Violence is the primary maner that the characters use to solve their disputes. It's widely used and accepted as normal in the lives of those on the ranch. Even Lennie learns to use violence to defend himself, but it's mostly because he doesn't know how to control his strength (the puppy, death of Curley's wife)
Loneliness is another main theme in the book and it has an effect on every character. It's presented in different ways such as through segregation/racism and sexism. The name Soledad actually means our lady of loneliness in Spanish. It's also said that loneliness in the characters' lives makes them bitter and violent.
Shattered dreams is another important theme as each character has their own dream that's shattered in some way or another. Curley's wife dreams of being in the "pitchers" and this dream is shattered in her marriage to Curley and in her death. Curley's dream was to become a boxer and this dream was shattered when Lennie crushed his hand. Crooks dreamed of freedom and having a life like he had when he was a child and this dream was shattered by Curley's wife when she reminded him that his life would never change "I can get you strung up on a tree so easy it aint even funny."
The theme of social outcasts is a minor theme in the novel, but it affects many of the characters. Crooks is an outcast, because of his race. Candy and Lennie are outcasts, because of their disabilities and Curley's wife is an outcast, because of Curley's jealousy and her gender. She refers to Lennie, Candy, Crooks and maybe herself as the "weak ones".
There are other themes such as animals, injustice and power too. Hope this helps.
Posted by musicaltheatregeek on May 18, 2012 at 9:32 PM (Answer #30)
Try these thematic statements:
Society has no tolerance for the weak.
The American Dream is impossible to accomplish.
Dreams lead to dissapointment.
Hope these help!
Posted by nileshdomah on August 28, 2012 at 11:46 PM (Answer #32)
One of the main themes in the novella can be taken from it's title - 'of Mice and Men' comes from the poem 'To a Mouse' by Robert Burns, in which a farmer's destruction of a nest results in him stating (in English paraphrasing) 'The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry' This carries the idea that, no matter how much you forward plan, something will often go wrong. Steinbeck chose to use this line as the title to his novella after realising how closely the poem related to his work. The fact that even though George plans ahead after 'what happened' in Weed in order to protect Lennie and keep him out of trouble, Lennie still makes the same mistake which eventually results in his downfall. This idea of inescapable fate is carried throughout the novella, while also highlighting the futility of the American Dream.
Posted by tembaloola on October 2, 2012 at 6:13 PM (Answer #34)
It's about lonliness and racism (how curleys wife spoke to crooks)
Posted by djjd123 on October 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM (Answer #35)
Salutatorian, Dean's List
There are several themes in the story.
There is the theme of friendship, loneliness, and child-like wonder and faith as opposed to skepticism.
There are deeper themes, such as democracy and capitalism, and social stratification.
Posted by mcfox1948 on February 14, 2013 at 2:18 PM (Answer #36)
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