How does Steinbeck present the barn in Chapter 5 of Of Mice and Men, and why is it important to the novel?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck's description of the barn in Chapter 5 is significant for several reasons.  First, Chapter 4 is also set in the barn, but it occurs at night in Crook's small room.  The author's description of the barn in Chapter 5 immediately follows the scene in which Curley's Wife threatens to accuse Crooks of attempted rape, and Crooks' decision to stay out of the farm dream plan. In Chapter 5, Steinbeck describes the light filtering through the barn's cracks. It is a sunny, restful day for most of the men.  Instead of hours in the field, most of them are playing horseshoes outside the barn in the bright sunlight.  In contrast, Lennie sits in the coolness of the barn, alone, with his newly killed puppy.  This different view of the barn in the chapter contributes to Steinbeck's overall light/darkness motif.

The quiet calm in the barn also contrasts well with the violent encounter between Lennie and Curley's Wife which occurs later in the chapter. After Lennie flees, and Candy and the others enter the barn to discover Curley's Wife's body lying in the hay, the barn begins to darken, and the Sunday laziness of the horses dissipates, foreshadowing the dark ending to come.

hunchbackwhale | Student

The barn was the place of chaos. The barn is where Lennie accidentally smothered and killed Curley's wife. Curley's wife is very whore-like. She allowed him to run his fingers through her hair. He enjoyed the way her hair felt; therefore clawing his large fingers through her head. She screamed for help but all that did was cause Lennie to tighten his grip around her hair and mouth so she could not scream. He pulled her head back so far that he snapped her neck, killing her.

shubbu29 | Student

Well at first the mood is calm but there is a carton amount of tension because we know that lennie is attracted to anything that is soft and nice from past experience. Curleys wife at this time is felling lonely and secluded so when she sees a chance to have a friend she takes it. Then when lennie begins touching her hair we see that something is going to happen so the mood changes and the tension is heightened. Finally when Curleys wife's body is found, althought everyone is after lennie there is a sence of peace and this is given from the description of her dead body

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Of Mice and Men

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