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What is the theme in Of Mice and Men in Chapter 3?

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alexjo | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 2, 2011 at 6:29 AM via web

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What is the theme in Of Mice and Men in Chapter 3?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 18, 2011 at 5:24 AM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter 3 of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, we find ourselves at the back at the bunkhouse. One of the main themes of this chapter seems to be relationships.

George tells Slim about his relationship with Lennie. Despite the fact that Lennie suffers from severe mental challenges that cause trouble for the two of them, George continues to travel around with him.

Another relationship shown in Chapter 3 is that between Candy and his old dog, which parallels the relationship between Lennie and the new puppy that he has been enjoying petting. Carlson thinks that Candy should kill the dog because it is so old and smells so bad. Candy does not want to kill the dog, but eventually allow Carlson to take the dog out and shoot him. This event foreshadows how eventually George will shoot Lennie.

Another relationship portrayed in Chapter 3 is the relationship between Curley and his wife. Despite the fact that they are husband and wife, they are probably the most dysfunctional couple described in Chapter 3. Curley is jealous of his wife's activities and not without good reason. This jealously causes Curley to become angry and when Curley thinks that Lennie is laughing at him, Curley attacks Lennie. Lennie does not defend himself until George commands him to do so. At that point, Lennie crushes Curley's hand. This parallels the hand that Candy lost in a previous accident on the farm. Lennie's crushing of Curley's hand also foreshadows what he will do later to Curley's wife.

Finally, in Chapter 3, we should also note the potential relationship that is being formed between George, Lennie, and Candy. When Candy hears about George and Lennie's "dream" farm, Candy wants to be part of this dream and offers to put up his money for the purchase. George agrees and believes that with the extra money they might be able to buy the farm.

So, in Chapter 3, we see a number of relationships. Some of the them look like they should be dysfunctional, but they manage to work. Others look like they should work (husband and wife), but they are dysfunctional.

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