Describe the setting in Chapters 1 & 6 in Of Mice and Men, and how is it important to the novel?

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In both chapters One and Six, of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, the setting is the same.  Lennie and George are near the Salinas River (close to Soledad, CA).  The setting is described as follows:

The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees.

There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the deep pool, and beaten hard by the tramps who come wearily down from the highway in the evening to jungle-up near the water. In front of the low horizontal limb of a giant sycamore there is an ash pile made by many fires; the limb is worn smooth by men who have sat on it.

It is here where readers come to find out of the problems and plans of the novels two protagonists; this sets up the plot, introduces the initial conflicts and, as well as, offers some foreshadowing.  The setting of Chapter One and Six is important given it is where the novel both ends and begins.  The setting is also important because this seems to be the place where Lennie finds complete comfort.  Everywhere else he has gone, it seems that he has gotten into trouble.  Here, by the river, Lennie is free to be who he is.  The importance of ending the novel at the same location seems to be for the benefit of both George and Lennie. Lennie can, once again, be himself, be comfortable and George knows that Lennie loves the river.


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Of Mice and Men

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