How is the Jungian theory presented in Of Mice and Men?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One can find the Jungian analysis of the personal consciousness and the collective experience in Steinbeck's work.  For example, Lennie's desire to tend the rabbits and "have ketchup with beans" can be seen as examples of personal consciousness, while Curley's wife's desire to be in "pitchers" can be another example of the personalized notion of being.  Their personal explorations of consciousness feed into a larger notion of collective experience in how both feel lonely and both "like purty things."  

This same dynamic of personal and collective experience can be seen in Crooks and Candy.  Both of them explore personal consciousness in differing lights of sadness.  Crooks' experience with segregation and Candy losing his dog are examples of this.  Yet, their collective experience of seeking belonging is evident in how both of them are attracted to the dream that George and Lennie share.  While Crooks might have backed away from it, the initial attraction and desire to "belong" helps to underscore their collective experience.  In Jungian theory, the balance between understanding the personal consciousness and the collective experience is of vital importance.  Such significance is shared in Steinbeck's exploration of characterization.


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