In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, describe one element in each section of the story.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men denotes the loneliness and need for companionship of migrant workers in California during the Great Depression.  The desperation of these men extends to their search for friends with whom to share their lives. 

Section 1

The most important element stems from the characterization of Lennie Small and George Milton.  Lennie’s physical strength and lack of normal intelligence will cause him problems in the story.  His innocence and devotion to George along with his love of petting soft things are his primary characteristics. 

George sounds angry and blustery most of the time.  His most important quality is his responsibility for Lennie.  He often makes the statement about how much better his life would be if he did not have to look out for Lennie.  George loves Lennie and cares about his well-being. 

Section 2

Women are not accepted into the world of the ranch hands except in two ways: for sexual pleasure and to care for men.  These men consider women dangerous. George and Lennie find no need for women.  Unfortunately, Curley’s wife will be the final nail in Lennie’s coffin proving the principle that women are sinister. 

"Listen to me...Don't you even take a look at that b..... I don't care what she say and what she does.  You leave her be."

Section 3

Foreshadowing plays an important role in this section.  Slim talks to George about Lennie and his past history.  Lennie and George having to leave the last town because of Lennie’s grabbing onto the girl’s dress foreshadows the death of Curley’s wife.  Crushing Curley’s hand establishes Lennie’s strength.  The killing of Candy’s dog hints at the painless way that George will kill Lennie.  When Candy tells George that he wishes that he had taken care of his dog himself, this captures the decision that George has to make after Lennie kills Curley’s wife.

Section 4

This section introduces Crooks.  He is black and kept separate from the rest of the men.  If the others are longing for companionship, Crooks represents the next level of isolation.  Not only is Crooks black but also physically disabled.  Even Curley’s wife finds herself socially more acceptable than Crooks. 

Crooks listens to the conversation between George and Slim; however, he does not believe that these men will ever have a place of their own.  Crooks does not like for other people to come in his room.  When Lennie finds his way to his room, Crooks shows that the weaker can attack the weaker.  Eventually, Curley’s wife comes by in search of companionship, and to hurt her Crooks calls her a tramp telling her to get and leave him alone.

Section 5

Dreams are brought to the surface in this part of the story.  Curley’s wife hopes to be an actress. It is doubtful that Curley’s wife will ever achieve any of her dreams.  When she comes to the barn, Lennie tries to hide the dead puppy. Curley’s wife tells him about her unhappy marriage, unattainable dreams, and her loneliness.  She fails to understand the danger when Lennie begins to stroke her hair.  Of course, this ends in tragedy with Lennie choking her to death.

Section 6

From the water snake to the foliage---the reader understands that nature will soon be disturbed by a horrendous act of kindness.  Lennie remembers where to hide and George finds him.  Realizing that Lennie will suffer at the hands of Curley, George knows that it is responsibility to take care of the death of Lennie.