In Of Mice and Men, describe the atmosphere that is created by the imagery in the first two paragraphs.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The natural atmosphere established in the first two paragraphs of the novel's opening chapter reflects a sense of permanence in the world. Human beings come and go, but nature is shown to be there forever.

Nature occupies a very important role in the first two chapters of the novella. In some respects, nature is one of the primary characters introduced.  Throughout the narrative, Steinbeck will reference nature.  For example, references to nature are evident when Curley's wife and Lennie die.  This trend is established in the first two paragraphs.   The opening addresses the natural condition of the brush. Steinbeck uses precise natural detail: the “golden foothill slopes of the Gabilan Mountains,” the “recumbent limbs and branches” of sycamore trees, and animals that dot the landscape such as rabbits, dogs, lizards, and raccoons are all a part of this vision of nature.  It is evident this natural condition has taken place over time.  

Steinbeck painstakingly creates the natural world that exists as the men enter.  It highlights how nature continues as humans come and go.  There is a sense of stability in this setting amidst the unstable nature of human beings.  In the 1930s, the bindle stiffs moved from place to place.  They had no permanent home.  Nature, however, is shown to be everlasting.  It has survived through so many human beings' narratives and Lennie and George just add to it.

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