How does Steinbeck use the setting at the beginning and end of Of Mice and Men?

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Of Mice and Men is a cyclical story, because the setting is the same at the end and the beginning.

The setting of the story is important because Steinbeck takes great pains to describe the beautiful and peaceful nature scene of the Salinas Valley.  Before we meet any characters, we meet the setting.

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the...

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