What are some representations of IDENTITY in the novella "Of Mice and Men"?I know there are representations of class, gender, race, handicapped identity, but I'd like some information on the...

What are some representations of IDENTITY in the novella "Of Mice and Men"?

I know there are representations of class, gender, race, handicapped identity, but I'd like some information on the specific representations of these.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The most important aspects of identity are related to social class and animal symbolism (anthropomorphism).  Steinbeck sets up a social class hierarchy on the ranch based on the white male's work status:

THE RULING CLASS:

1.  The Boss

2.  Curley

THE WORKING CLASS:

3.  Slim

4.  Carlson, Whit

5.  George / Lennie (Lennie is in two classes, really.  He does the work of two men in the fields, but in the bunkhouse, he's like a child)

THE UNDERCLASS:

6.  Candy (old, missing hand)

7.  Lennie (mentally disabled)

8.  Curley's wife (a woman in a man's world)

THE OUTCAST:

9.  Crooks (lives alone because of his race)

In terms of animal symbolism, here are the connections:

Lennie: identified as a bear early by the size of his hands.  Also connected to mice and puppies (which he kills).  Later, dreams of tending rabbits.  Thinks he sees a giant rabbit, symbolic of his Id, or pleasure principal.

George: not identified with much animal symbolism, but he's small and crafty (fox?).

Slim: identified by the team of horses he drives.  A leader.  The hero of the novella

Curley: hates big fellas, so he's got a Jack Russell (little dog) complex.

Curley's wife: becomes like the dead mice and puppy that Lennie kills.  Dies in the barn like an animal.

Candy: identified by his old smelly dog, which gets shot by Carlson

Crooks: crooked back like the mule that kicks him.  Lives in the stable next to the mules.

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