Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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How does Steinbeck explore the theme of  death in Of Mice and Men?

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There are literal deaths and one symbolic death in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Not surprisingly, the deaths of mice, Candy's dog, Lennie's puppy, Curley's wife and Lennie are all linked to the symbolic death of the dream farm which George, Lennie and Candy hope to go to and "live nice." The farm is an illusion of paradise. It is a place of innocence where George can relive his childhood, Lennie can "tend rabbits" and Candy can "hoe in the garden." Indeed, the dream farm is the garden of Eden where the men will be free from the toil and alienation which plagues their lives on the ranch.

Death, however, ultimately extinguishes this dream. The early deaths of the mouse Lennie is carrying in his pocket, Candy's dog and Lennie's puppy prove to be foreshadowing of the human deaths which will take place in the final two chapters. These human deaths are symbolic of a loss of innocence and because they occur, they disrupt and destroy the dream of paradise, where death, sexual urges and loneliness...

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