What is the dominant contrast in the opening chapters of the novella?John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the opening chapters of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, the serene beauty of the Salinas Valley with its golden slopes and greenery and trodden path that leads to a peaceful pool where rabbits move noiselessly is a haven where George Milton and Lennie Small find respite that is in sharp contrast to the potentially insect-infested bunkhouse with people who threaten their safety to which George Milton and Lennie Small report for work.

While at the pool in the clearing, George and Lennie speak as friends, discussing freely their feelings and their past experiences.  Relaxing, they recite their dream of owning a ranch as though it were a litany, a prayer before they bed down for the night.  However, once they reach the ranch, George is guarded in his speech, careful to feign enough disinterest in things so as not to draw attention to himself and Lennie.  In contrast to his rather positive feelings about Lennie's remembering where to hide in the brush by the pond in Chapter One, George falls "morosely silent" in Chapter Two after Lennie speaks when he has been instructed by George not to say anything in front of the boss.  For the most part, George is tense when he and Lennie are in the bunkhouse around the other bindle stiffs from whom they are alienated.