Locate where this extract is from in Of Mice and Men. What’s going on there?

The deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon. Already the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains, and the hilltops were rosy in the sun. But by the pool among the mottled sycamores, a pleasant shade had fallen. A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shallows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically. A far rush of wind sounded and a gust drove through the tops of the trees like a wave. The sycamore leaves turned up their silver sides, the brown, dry leaves on the ground scudded a few feet. And row on row of tiny wind waves flowed up the pool’s green surface. As quickly as it had come, the wind died, and the clearing was quiet again. The heron stood in the shallows, motionless and waiting. Another little water snake swam up the pool, turning its periscope head from side to side

Expert Answers

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This extract comes from the beginning of the sixth and final section or chapter in Of Mice and Men. It is the same location where the book began, a deep green pool of the Salinas River in the shadow of the Gabilan Mountains, and many details of the idyllic scene are repeated from the opening paragraphs. T

he weather is equally benign, and it is around the same time of day, late afternoon or early evening, that George and Lennie first came to the place. As before, the setting and its natural beauty are described before their arrival. Lennie is about to come upon the scene immediately after the end of this extract, having remembered that George said this was where they should meet if either of them got into trouble.

One slight difference from the opening scene is the presence of the heron, which kills and eats the snake. In the opening paragraph, there were rabbits, and the tracks of dogs and deer, but no direct evidence of the predatory side of nature to bring any harshness into the tranquil eden.

The snake's death can be taken as a foreshadowing of what is about to happen. Lennie has just killed Curley's wife, and a mob of men will come after him. George will be forced to kill his friend to avoid greater violence and suffering. These few paragraphs at the opening of section six, therefore, are a brief oasis of beauty and tranquility before the tragic climax of the story.

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