What do sound devices contribute to Steinbeck's work Of Mice and Men?

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Sound is an effective device to communicate atmosphere in the novel. Our first introduction to the characters of George and Lennie is through sound-

  '...from the direction of the state highway came the sound of footsteps on crisp sycamore leaves.'

Steinbeck uses sound to convey the simple life of the ranch hands and the slow calmness of their surroundings-

'Through the open door came the thuds and occasional clangs of a horse-shoe game, and now and then the sound of voices raised in approval or derision.' 

Both of these settings utilise the sounds to change the atmosphere as the story progresses. We hear the game of horseshoes outside the barn when Lennie realises that he has killed Curley's wife, and there will be consequences-

'From outside the barn came the cry of men and the double clang of shoes on metal. For the first time Lennie became conscious of the outside.'

We return in the final chapter to the original setting, but this time there is an urgency in the air indicated by the sound of the lynch mob approaching-

'...the leaves rustled and the wind waves flowed up the green pool. And the shouts of men sounded again, this time much closer than before.'

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