How does Steinbeck's description of the atmosphere inside the barn reflect the action as it unfolds, specially leading to the discovery of Curley's wife's body in Of Mice and Men?chapter 5

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The atmosphere in the barn is peaceful.  The chapter begins by describing the pile of “new hay” and the space for a new crop.  It is a symbol of plenty and possibility.  The horses are nibbling away, and there is a slice of afternoon sun glistening through the walls.  The barn is its own world, an isolated pocket of sanctuary.

From outside came the clang of horseshoes on the playing peg and the shouts of men, playing, encouraging, jeering. But in the barn it was quiet and humming and lazy and warm. (ch 5)

This peaceful scene is interrupted by a startling description of Lennie with a dead puppy.  The juxtaposition of the pleasantness in the first paragraphs and the description of the puppy is jarring.  He first covers, then strokes, then yells and swears at the puppy.

At this point, Curley’s wife comes in, quietly so that Lennie does not notice her at first.

She wore her bright cotton dress and the mules with the red ostrich feathers. Her face was made-up and the little sausage curls were all in place. (ch 5)

She makes a nice contrast to the puppy.  Both are soft and delicate, and George told Lennie to stay away from both.  This foreshadows trouble for Curley’s wife, as Curley accidentally kills her like he killed the puppy.

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amne | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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When Lennie is sitting alone, there is a ray of light that comes into the barn. This portrays his innocence and makes him seem angellic and the hiding of the dead puppy forebodes the danger soon to come.

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