What is an example of figurative language in Chapter 3 in Of Mice and Men, and what is its effect on the reader?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Near the beginning of Chapter 3 of the novella, George confides in Slim about his relationship with Lennie.  Slim had made the comment that it was "funny" that George and Lennie traveled around together because so many migrant workers were solitary figures.  George sees that he can trust Slim and begins to explain to him that while Lennie has done some troublesome things in the past, he does not mean anything by those incidents.  As evidence, George describes the incident in Weed to Slim, telling him about Lennie grabbing the girl's dress and not letting go of it.  Then George comments,

"Well, that girl rabbits in an' tells the law she been raped." (42)

Steinbeck's choice of the word "rabbits" serves two purposes. First, it means "hops" in this context, implying that the girl was quick to assume what Lennie's intentions were and gave no thought to the seriousness of her charges.

Secondly, the word refers to the literal rabbits that Lennie wants so badly. Steinbeck cleverly ties together in one word two of the "soft" things Lennie likes to touch and hold onto--girls and rabbits--thus, foreshadowing the future trouble that the gentle giant might have with one or the other or both.