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In the first chapter the narrator says that Lennie "walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws." In the next paragraph, Lennie drinks (from the green pool) "with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse." A few pages later, George recalls the trouble they escaped from in Weed. "He took on the elaborate manner of little girls when they are mimicking one another." His verbal castigation of Lennie serves to inform the reader of exactly what happened in Weed. Most of the exposition in the novel is conveyed through dialogue because Steinbeck intended to adapt the book to a stage play to be produced in New York City.
In the second chapter, Candy gives George a thumbnail description of Curley, who has just been in the bunkhouse behaving in his characteristic domineering and pugnacious manner.
"Well . . . tell you what. Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys. . . ."
All four of these examples contain similes, although only two of them contain the word "like."
A simile is a literary device that makes a comparison that shows the similarities between two different things. A simile can be easily identified because the words "like" or "as" signal to readers that a comparison is going to be made. Similes often help readers out because similes allow a greater amount of meaning and understanding to be placed with a relatively simple sentence.
The similes that I have chosen from the first two chapters of the book all involve animals in the comparison. The first simile is a description of Lennie and the way that he drinks water.
His huge companion dropped his blankets and flung himself down and drank from the surface of the green pool; drank with long gulps, snorting into the water like a horse.
The second simile happens about a page or two later. George and Lennie have finished drinking from the pool, and the two men sit down on the sand to discuss their plans. As they are sitting there, a water snake swims across the water. It holds its head above the water, but the simile in the sentence really gives readers an excellent picture of what this particular water snake must look like.
A water snake slipped along on the pool, its head held up like a little periscope.
On the next page is one of my favorite similes of the book. It compares Lennie to a dog that doesn't want to drop its favorite toy. Lennie doesn't want to give George the mouse that he is holding.
George's hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn't want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Lennie laid the mouse in his hand.
If you've ever owned a dog and tried to teach the "drop" command, you know what Lennie looks like.
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