Can anybody give me some examples of light and darkness in "Of Mice and Men" and it's use?Steinbeck uses the theme of darkness and light throughoout the novel. can somebody explain the examples of...

Can anybody give me some examples of light and darkness in "Of Mice and Men" and it's use?

Steinbeck uses the theme of darkness and light throughoout the novel. can somebody explain the examples of its use in the story and characters.

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck, in the novel Of Mice and Men, uses a theme of light and dark throughout the novel.  Here are some examples from the text and an explanation of the use.

The golden foothill slopes curve up...

Here is an obvious image of light.  It appears in Chapter One at the very beginning of the novel when describing the area near the river where Lennie and George are first introduced.  The light image here depicts a safe place for the men.

At about ten o'clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beam flies shot like rushing stars.

Here, the bunk house is described in the opening of Chapter Two.  While there is some light coming into the bunkhouse, it is actually a reference to darkness.  There is only a beam of light coming in.  Therefore, the bunk house can be looked at as being a place where something bad will happen.

Instantly the table was brilliant with light, the cone of the shade threw its brightness straight downward, leaving the corners of the bunkhouse still in dusk.

Here again, this time in Chapter Three, the bunkhouse is described as being dark.  Only a little light illuminates a small part of the room (similar to the first picture readers are given).  Again, this illustrates that the bunk house, although some light may penetrate its darkness, can be defined as a "bad" or dark place.

In the stable buck's room a small electric globe threw a meager yellow light.

At the beginning of Chapter Four, Crook's room is being describe.  While the room is clean, it is again void of any brightness.  The reasoning behind this could illuminate the fact that Crooks is seen as an outcast because of his black skin; he is an African American.  The other ranchers do not think that he is worthy of sharing their space as white ranchers therefore, he is kept in the dark- literally and figuratively.

It was Sunday afternoon. The afternoon sun sliced in through the cracks of the barn walls and lay in bright lines on the hay.

In the opening of Chapter Five, where the climax of the novel happens, the barn is described very similarly to the other buildings of the ranch.  While there is light, it is fragmented and isolated.  It is here where Lennie's actions force him to leave the ranch. Again, the relevance of the light imagery here is that at no place on the ranch is light able to completely penetrate anything at all.

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.

In the final chapter of the book, the light is fading.  This cues readers in that something is about to change dramatically.  At the opening of the novel, this area was the place associated with complete light. Now, the light is changing and the river is changing with it.  It will no longer be the place of light which Lennie and George first came upon.

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Of Mice and Men

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