What is an instance of foreshadowing in chapter 1 or 2 of Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck?

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In the novel’s first two chapters, John Steinbeck includes foreshadowing of several key incidents. The most important ones are the deaths of Curley’s wife and Lennie. In addition, the intersecting themes of solitude and loneliness, as contrasted with caretaking and friendship, are introduced; these mentions foreshadow George ’s decision...

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In the novel’s first two chapters, John Steinbeck includes foreshadowing of several key incidents. The most important ones are the deaths of Curley’s wife and Lennie. In addition, the intersecting themes of solitude and loneliness, as contrasted with caretaking and friendship, are introduced; these mentions foreshadow George’s decision to kill Lennie and become a solitary figure.

In chapter 1, George complains to Lennie about being a burden but also emphasizes the bond they share. Lennie likewise mentions how they take care of each other. George says, “if I was alone I could live so easy.” He also notes that ranchhands like them “are the loneliest guys in the world.” Lennie responds that their mutually caring relationship prevents that loneliness: “I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you.” Later in the novella, George decides he has no choice: killing Lennie constitutes part of looking after him, as it is the only way to prevent a mob lynching.

The men also discuss the incident that prompted them to leave the town of Weed, where Lennie had roughly touched a young woman. This foreshadows his touching, and accidentally killing, Curley’s wife. Lennie had been drawn to the texture of her dress, as he likes soft things, so he touched her dress. Alarmed, the woman pulled back, but Lennie held on. Her frightened screams prompted the men to leave town.

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The death of Lennie's mouse in chapter 1 is a good example of foreshadowing. Lennie, the gentle giant, would never have knowingly hurt the mouse, or any other creature come to that; the trouble is that he just doesn't know his own strength, and this gets him into trouble later in the novel.

This particular example of Lennie's dangerous strength foreshadows a number of events later on in the story, such as Lennie's crushing Curley's hand when he tried to pick a fight with him. Then there's the tragic incident in which Lennie accidentally breaks Curley's wife's neck while patting her hair. Lennie likes to pat and stroke soft objects, whether it's mice or ladies's hair. Unfortunately, because he remains blissfully unaware of his own strength, he inadvertently kills Curley's wife, just as he almost certainly did the little mouse whose dead body he carries around in his pocket.

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Steinbeck uses a lot of foreshadowing throughout his story. Even the title Of Mice and Men foreshadows trouble because the author is obviously suggesting that the plans of George and Lennie to have their own farm are destined to be thwarted, just like those of the little mouse in Robert Burns' famous poem "To a Mouse."

In Chapter 1 the most significaant foreshadowing has to do with George telling Lennie what to do if he should get into trouble at the ranch where they will start working the next day. An important quote is the following:

"'Course you did. Well, look. Lennie--if you jus' happen to get in trouble like you always done before, I want you to come right here an' hide in the brush."

As the reader naturally expects, Lennie does get into trouble and comes to hide in the brush, where George will know exactly where to find him in the last chapter and where he will kill him. The fact that this story begins and ends in the same peaceful spot by the river gives it an aestheticzlly satisfying symmetry.

In Chapter 2 the most important foreshadowing has to do with Curley, who takes an immediate dislike to Lennie. When Curley leaves the bunkhouse, Candy tells George:

"Well . . . tell you what. Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys.  He's alla time picking scraps with big guys. Kind of like he's mad at 'em because he ain't a big guy. You seen little guys like that, ain't you? Always scrappy?"

George responds:

"But this Curley punk is gonna get hurt if he messes around with Lennie."

With all this foreshadowing (which adds dramatic tension to a potentially dull story about life on a ranch), the reader feels assured that there is going to be a showdown between Curley and Lennie.

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