How does Steinbeck present the brutality of ranch life at the time Of Mice and Men is set?
mwestwood | Certified Educator
In Of Mice and Men, the brutality of ranch life is depicted through characterization.
- In Chapter One as George and Lennie camp out before heading to their new job, and George alludes to the reason they have to start anew: Lennie wanted to feel a girl's dress.
She yells and we got to hide in a irrigation ditch all day with guys lookin' for us, and we got to sneak out in the dark and get outta the country.
- In Chapter Two, after Candy gossips about Curley, the son of the boss with George and Lennie, he begs them not to repeat what he has said because "[H]e'd slough me. He just don't give a damn."
- When Curley enters the bunkhouse, he is immediately hostile toward Lennie, shouting, "By Christ, he's gotta talk when he's spoke to."
- After Curley leaves, Candy explains how pugnacious Curley is, "Seems like Curley ain't givin' nobody a chance."
- In Chapter Three Carlson heartlessly offers to shoot Candy's old dog.
- In this chapter when Curley antagonizes Slim, Whit becomes excited and leaves the bunkhouse to watch the "fireworks."
- Lennie suggests his propensity for violence when he imagines that some might try to take his dream rabbits: "I'll break their God damn necks." Later, he breaks every bone in Curley's hand when Curley comes at him.
- In Chapter Four, Crooks takes a sadistic delight in telling Lennie that George, who has gone to town, may not return. "Crooks's face lighted with pleasure in his torture."
- In Chapter Five, Curley is ready to wreak vengeance on Lennie after learning of his wife's death. Candy tells George, "Curley gon'ta wanta get 'im lynched. Curley'll get 'im killed."
- When Carlson runs into the barn, shouting that his Luger is gone, Curley tells him that Crooks has a shotgun and to take it.
- Then, when George asks Curley not to shoot Lennie. "Don't shoot 'im?" Curley cried. "He got Carlson's Luger. 'Course we'll shoot 'im."