Of Mice and Men Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is an example of parallelism in Of Mice and Men?  

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,320 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The scene in which Candy, the swamper, allows Carlson to shoot his old dog parallels and foreshadows George shooting Lennie at the end of the book.

Candy is very attached to his dog, but Carlson, who shares the bunkhouse with Candy and the dog, complains that the dog stinks and is too old to be useful anymore. He says:

He ain't no good to you, Candy. An' he ain't no good to himself. Why'n't you shoot him, Candy?"

Candy, however, is deeply attached to the dog, who has been his companion during his lonely life as a migrant worker. When Carlson pushes killing the dog, Candy "squirmed uncomfortably. "Well- hell! I had him so long. Had him since he was a pup," Candy says.

Nevertheless, he allows Carlson to shoot the dog, seeing no way out, just as George later sees no way out of shooting Lennie, despite his deep attachment to him.

Candy is grieved over his dog's death. Like Lennie, the dog might have been allowed a more humane and dignified end had economic conditions not made life so hard for the workers. If Candy and George had each had a place of their own, they could have protected the ones they loved far better.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,269 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Parallelism in literature is the use of similar sentence or word structures to compare two things, ideas, or people. At the very beginning of Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses the following two parallel sentences, each beginning with the word "both," to compare Lennie and George: "Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders" (page numbers vary by edition). 

The author's repetition of the word "both" at the beginning of two consecutive sentences (and in later in the second sentence) sets up a parallel structure, and the purpose of this structure is to draw comparisons between Lennie and George. They are both dressed in denim and have similar hats and carry a blanket roll. In the sentences that follow, Steinbeck draws contrasts between George, who is "small and quick," and Lennie, who is "a huge man, shapeless of face." The author's use of parallel structures makes the reader immediately visualize the similarities between the two main characters before he delineates their differences. This type of structure also makes the reader feel like the characters are walking towards him or her; when the characters are farther away, the reader can only see their similarities in dress, but when the characters draw closer, the reader can see their distinctions. 

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial