How is the last scene in Of Mice and Men dramatic?John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interestingly, Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men, with a single setting for each section--a secluded grove, a bunkhouse, a barn--was conceived by the author as a potential play.  After the tragic occurrence in the barn in which Lennie, in his anxiety about keeping Curley's wife quiet, inadvertently breaks her neck, the scene concludes as the book as begun, in the secluded grove. 

However, this time the grove's role as refuge becomes a much more dramatic one. Whereas it was the little field mouse which is dead and cast into the "darkening brush," in the final action of George, it is, instead, his friend, whose well-meaning intentions have gone awry as in Robert Burn's poem, "To a Mouse," that he sends into the "darkening brush" of death.  And, in contrast to his uncaring toss of the mouse, a loving George tells Lennie to look out at the river, as though he can envision the haven about which they have so long dreamt.

With dramatic irony, Lennie begs George, "Le' do it now.  Le's get that place now."  And, George replies, "Sure, right now.  I gotta.  We gotta." 

Then, the pathos of George's hand shaking violently as he prepares to shoot his friend is powerful:

The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again.  Lennie jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay without quivering.

George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he threw it from him, back up on the bank, near the pile of old ashes. [Where they made a fire in chapter one.]  The brush seemed filled with cries and with the sound of running feet.

George sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his right hand that had thrown the gun away.

The rounding out of the narrative with its allsion to the first chapter whose action is in marked contrast to the action of the conclusion is dramatically effective as the significance of Steinbeck's title becomes apparent.  The death of the dream with the death of Lennie is poignant, indeed, as Steinbeck employs sound imagery that effectively illustrates the jarring emotions within George.