Discuss the use of animal imagery and its function in the novel "Of Mice and Men." 

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lennie and George remind me of two stray dogs, wandering around looking for a meal and a warm place to lay their heads.  They dream of owning a farm, and Lennie talks of the rabbits he will raise.  Rabbits are a symbol of life or fertility, if only they can realize this dream, they will be surrounded by the bounty of life.  

Lennie has killed the mouse he held in his hand, crushing it with his strength and power, similar to how the harshness of life can crush the human spirit. 

Lennie accidentally kills his puppy, illustrating the power of the strong over the weak, and how poor Lennie and George are the weak in the current conditions in society.  They are marginalized wanderers trying to survive in the harsh conditions of the times.  

Candy's dog is shot, and put out of its misery, yet he pleads for the dog's life, explaining that he is devoted to the dog, he raised from a puppy.  The dog, according to Carlson has no purpose, similar to Steinbeck's stark barren landscape that dominates the book, life is bare, about survival, not sentiment or emotion.

The death of Candy's dog, for me is a foreshadowing of the death of Lennie at the end of the book.  He too must be done away with because he is more trouble than he is worth.  Of course George kills him to save him from suffering a harsher fate, just like Candy's dog.