What images (motifs) recur in the story Of Mice and Men? 

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A number of episodes and images recur in this novel.

  • Lennie is guilty of killing three things: a mouse, a puppy and Curley's wife. 
  • Curley challenges Lennie two times in separate episodes. 
  • The dream of property ownership is repeated three times. 
  • A conversation about how Curley's wife is a tart and "jail bait" takes place on at least two occassions. 
  • There are two "mercy" killings in the novel. 
  • The book begins and ends in a glen near the river. 
  • (In terms of motif, the idea of friendship and property ownership are expressed in identical (and near identical) terms in various places in the text.) 

Each of these episodes and ideas are repeated in the novel, forming a structure of repitition that takes the place of development and background. Instead of using detail, Steinbeck uses repitition to make the reader familiar with this world. Such a choice emphasizes the drama and the mythic nature of the tale.