Imagery In Of Mice And Men

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With imagery as the representation of sense experience through language, Chapter 4 of Of Mice and Men is replete with visual imagery, and it also contains much auditory imagery and even some kinesthetic and tactile imagery.

Visual imagery 

As the character Crooks is introduced in this chapter, there is a thorough description of his quarters in the harness room of the barn, where he lives and works as the stable buck, allowing the reader to "see" his living space.  A significant passage contrasts the paned window with the restraints of the inside:

On the wall by the window there were pegs on which hung broken harness...strips of new leather; and under the window itself a little bench for leather-working....on pegs were also pieces of harness...a broken hame, and a trace chain with its leather covering split.

Similar to the pieces of mule paraphenalia, Crooks' personal belonging are "bits and pieces": shoes, boots, alarm clock, and a single-barreled shotgun.

And he had books, too; a tattered dictionary and a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905.

Auditory imagery

When Lennie enters the barn, Crooks speaks to him "sharply," and in his nervousness, Lennie "gulped."  But, after Lennie disarms Crooks with his child-like "disarming" smile, Crooks's "tone was a little more friendly." Later, as he taunts Lennie his "voice grew soft and persuasive." And, when he becomes angry with the taunts of Crooks, Lennie "growled" in return; so Crooks amends his tone to "gently."

When Candy enters, talking about how the farm can become a reality, Crooks interrupts "brutally." Later, after Curley's wife leaves the barn, the men are not aware that she has done so until "the gate banged." And, as Curley's wife departs from the barn,

the halter chains rattled, and some horses snorted and some stamped their feet.

Kinesthetic and tactile imagery [words that suggest muscle/joint movement or touch]

Having suffered a broken back, Crooks applies ointment to his back and often reaches behind himself, rubbing it; after he does so one time, he "flexed his muscles against his back and shivered" (kinesthetic imagery).

Later, Crooks "reached around and explored his spine with his hand" (tactile imagery).

Further in the chapter, Curley's wife stands in the doorway, "rubbing the nails of one hand with the thumb and forefinger of the other" (tactile imagery)

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This imagery in Chapter 4 creates realism as the reader is better able to "experience" vicariously what the characters do and be part of the atmosphere and setting of the narrative.

 

 

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