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In the final chapter, Steinbeck creates a sense of tragedy through the description of the setting and the dialogue between Lennie and George. The setting is the same as in the first chapter, beside the Salinas River when George and Lennie were on their way to the ranch, with their shared dream of owning a farm still a possibility. Now the action returns to this same spot, a private retreat for these two men; but this time there is no comfort, as the dream of the farm is shattered and Lennie is being hunted down. But it is still the place where the two men can meet privately and talk confidentially. Steinbeck's writing emphasises the elegiac quality of the place; it is late in the day, there is a sense of things winding down. Lennie, too, comes quietly to this spot, unlike his entrance in the first scene when he started drinking noisily from the water's edge. Now he appears touched by a sense of foreboding; he may not be intelligent enough to know just what will happen to him but he does know he has to hide.
However, Lennie's fears are dispelled, as always, when George comes to him. The dialogue that follows is especially poignant as George outlines their dream of a farm to Lennie for one last time. Lennie doesn't know that this is the last time, but George and the reader know, and this makes the scene very moving. There are hints of just how distraught George really is inside, his voice trembles, his hand shakes as he grips the gun, but for Lennie's sake he never lets on, he continues to share the dream with him - up until the final moment. Then George shoots Lennie as an act of mercy, to prevent his death, or detention, at the hands of others.
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