What are possible arguable theses in "Of Mice and Men" and which paragraph illuminates the argument?What should the format of a close reading paper look like?

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mdelmuro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Loneliness is one of the most popular themes of Of Mice and Men. When you look at the novel, nearly every character is a victim of loneliness, including George, who, despite having Lennie for a traveling companion, has no one his equal. Each character in the book, except perhaps Curley and his father, suffers from loneliness. Even Curley's wife's insistence on visiting the men in the bunkhouse and spending alone time with Lennie demonstrates how alone she is on the ranch.

There is probably no better paragraph than the explanation of loneliness by the one black man on the ranch, Crooks, to Lennie:

"Maybe you can see now. You got George. You know he’s goin’ to come back. S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ’Cause you was black. How’d you like that? S’pose you had to sit out here an’ read books. Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books. Books ain’t no good. A guy needs somebody—to be near him . . . A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya . . . I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick."

An essay that tackles this idea should look at at least three characters: George, Crooks, and Curley's wife. You might also want to look at the vagrant lifestyle of the white workers who are also all alone in Salinas.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Of Mice and Men," it is the death of Lennie which ends the dream for George, a fact which leads the reader to conclude that in George's life the pursuit of the dream is more important than the possibility of the dream's realization. For, while George repeats the dream of owning a ranch, he realizes that they will never acquire enough money to really buy a ranch; yet, in  this repeating of their plans in order to make the childlike Lenny happy, George has meaning given to his life.  He has a goal to pursue; something to give his life direction, something to soothe the alienation and loneliness he often feels.  With Lennie, George is not alone and he has a reason to keep working and living.

This pursuit of the dream even enlivens old Candy, who begins to make plans as he is enlisted in this pursuit.  He informs Crooks,

'Me and Lennie an'George.  We gonna have a room to ourself.  We're gonna have green corn an' maybe a cow or a goat.' He stopped, overwhelmed with his picture.

Together, George, Lennie, and Candy form a perfect triangle, clinging together in their loneliness and alienation, hopeful of the ideal that the 'dream holds out to them.

You will write an argument, a piece that you will wish to prove persuasively.