Describe how the difficulty of ranch life is shown in Of Mice and Men.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would point to the opening of chapter 2 as one specific example where Steinbeck points out the difficulty of ranch life.  The transient and temporary nature of ranch life is reflective of several distinct elements.  The first is how men who work on the ranch go from job to job, and live a life of nomadic wandering.  In this, Steinbeck points out that there is an inherent difficulty in the life of a ranch hand trusting others, forming bonds with others, and acting in the name of a general notion of community.  When life is so individualistic and so atomized, it almost becomes nearly impossible to act in a manner that upholds social notions of the good.  Steinbeck's depiction shows ranch life as a purely physical end, one in which workers work all day in grueling and difficult conditions, arrive back to slumber, and then do it all again the next day.  Steinbeck shows this vision of ranch life as physically taxing as well as emotionally devoid of connection.  It is in this detailing where one realizes how difficult the life that the ranches lead, making the friendship between George and Lennie even more poignant since it exists in a setting devoid of it.