What is the setting for Of Mice and Men, and why is it important?

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There are three important broad settings in Of Mice and Men: the natural world outside the ranch, the ranch, and the dreamscape George creates of the farm he and Lennie will buy and live on.

The natural world is the liminal or border space between the two poles of...

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There are three important broad settings in Of Mice and Men: the natural world outside the ranch, the ranch, and the dreamscape George creates of the farm he and Lennie will buy and live on.

The natural world is the liminal or border space between the two poles of the real and ideal represented by the ranch and the farm. Here in nature, as the novel opens and ends, George and Lennie are able to find an imperfect measure of freedom from their oppressive society. They enjoy in the beginning sitting by a pond—sharing a can of baked beans before they face seeking employment on the ranch below. At the end, the natural setting offers George a temporary safe spot where he can save Lennie from torture by killing him quickly and painlessly.

The ranch represents the dangerous world of capitalism, and its description underscores the harshness of the rancher's lives. They must all live together in a bunkhouse which offers only the bare necessities. Anyone—like the disliked Curley—can enter at any time, so there is also no privacy. It is a place that makes George uneasy. Furthermore, in Crooks's lean-to by the barn, we see how a black man is segregated and treated like an animal, though Crooks fights back by having books. The dreamscape of the idealized farm, with it animals and the opportunity to live off the fat of the land while excluding dangerous people, is the Utopic alternative to the harsh life of the ranch.

Steinbeck wishes to show that the harsh capitalist system of the 1930s, represented by the ranch, used people up as widgets—with little care for them as human beings—and was a dangerous place. That danger seeps into the surrounding countryside and can only be escaped in a dream world setting.

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The different settings serve as the backdrop to amplify the characterizations in Of Mice and Men.

The setting of the the Salinas River bank that opens and closes the novella is extremely important.  This is where we learn of the dreams that George and Lennie share.  It is also where we understand the power of hope that drives both men.  In the second and third chapters, the setting of the bunkhouse is where we learn more of the lives of the migrant workers who toil on the ranch. This setting helps us gain more insight into the people who move from place to place in order to find work in the 1930s.  We learn about how Candy lost his arm and the pain he experiences in losing his dog, as well as small characters's lives like Bill Tenner who used to work a cultivator and then moved on from the ranch. 

The setting is also important when the action shifts to Crooks's quarters.  The pain of segregation is explored when Lennie enters Crooks's room.  At this instant, the setting shows how racial discrimination enhanced the economic hardship of the 1930s.  Finally, the setting of the barn is essential to Of Mice and Men.  It is here where Curley's wife dies, and where George and Lennie eventually learn that their dreams for the future lie in ruins.  In these examples, Steinbeck uses different settings to amplify the characters' experiences.

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The setting is Salinas Valley in California during the Great Depression. Salinas Valley was the home of many large farms during the Depression. This is important because large farms employed large numbers of workers, often up to hundreds. Farm workers with no steady employment, known as migrant workers because they traveled to find work, would head to these communities. George and Lennie are migrant farm workers, and so it is logical that Salinas Valley would be their destination.

The reason that Steinbeck makes them migrant farm workers is because these type of men were perfect highlight the lonliness and alienation created by the Depression. These men had no home, no place and few belongings to call their own. They were constantly at the mercy of the farmers, and of the weather - in bad conditions, they could be homeless again in moments. Besides being homeless, they would quickly be friendless. It was impossible to develop lasting relationships in this transient lifestyle.

This is why George and Lennie—and, later, Candy—dream about getting a home with a little vegetable garden. They don't want much, they just want to be settled and to have permanancy in their lives.

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Mice and Men, the great novel by John Steinbeck, takes place in the 1930's during The Great Depression. Knowing the exact setting for the novel is important to understand the journey Lennie and George go through. During the Depression, unemployment was at the highest it has ever been in the United States. Furthermore, with unemployment high and the demand for labor low, wages were also very low. That left many workers looking for any type of work, regardless of wage and benefits.

With Lennie and George looking for work and just to survive the Depression and continue to live their lives, their journey was told through the understanding of why the Great Depression was so important. Understanding what they, and the rest of the country, had to go through, is essential for any reader's comprehension for this American classic novel.

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Interestingly, the Salinas Valley which is known as "America's Salad Bowl" is an extremely fertile area and even has an extended period of time in which crops can be grown compared to northern regions of California.  Then, in the midst of all this fertile land with abounding life, there is the setting of "Of Mice and Men": a "few miles south of Soledad."  The word soledad in Spanish means "solitude."  Of course, Steinbeck chose this location purposefully to underscore the aloneness of George and Lennie and the other men working as itinerant workers in such an area of rich land in the 1930s.

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Most of "Of Mice and Men" takes place on and about a ranch in the Salinas Valley, near the town of Soledad, south of San Francisco. The story begins and ends at a clearing near a pool about a quarter of a mile from the ranch, and spans only four days. No specific time frame is given, though it seems fairly clear that the book is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s; yet though the book was published in 1937, Steinbeck does not allude to the Depression in the novel.

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We know setting to mean where the story takes place. In Of Mice and Men, the action happens at the ranch and the land surround it. We should also remember that time and geographic location are also important elements of setting. Aside from the specific locations, such as Crooks' room, the general time period and part of the world can tell us important information.

A specific date is not given, but the story takes place during the 1930s (and it was published in 1937). The ranch is located in the Salinas Valley, south of Soledad, California. This is important because it tells us the story is set during America's Great Depression. This information is important to the context of the story. The economic turmoil left many people poor and out of work. Many traveled west in search of work and a better life.

The setting is important because it gives us context for the story. This helps us understand what the characters were going through.

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