In Of Mice and Men, what writing styles (chronological, flashback or cyclical) has John Steinbeck used? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because Steinbeck had considered making Of Mice and Men a play, the narrative is arranged in scenes which are in chronological order. For instance, the first scene opens as George and Lennie have stepped off the bus a few miles south of Soledad. They stay overnight in the clearing and reach the ranch by lunch time the next day where they meet the old swamper, Candy, and are shown their bunks. Then, other workers come into the bunkhouse at the end of the day, such as Curley's wife, Slim and Curley. During this time, Candy's dog is shot, Slim plays cards with George, and Curley threatens Lennie. The final scene is in the barn, where Lennie wanders in and talks with the alienated Crooks, the black stable mate, who is not allowed in the bunkhouse. In this scene, too, Crooks voices the theme of fraternity in another way from what Lennie has said as

"...I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you..." 

Crooks expresses the idea that a person needs another around in order to verify what really exists,

"A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody....Maybe if he sees somethin', he don't know whether it's right or not.  He can't turn to some other guy and ast him if he sees it too.  He can't tell. He got nothing to measure by."

After Curley's wife enters the barn, Crooks withdraws as  she makes demeaning remarks to him. Then, she toys with Lennie, and the too strong Lennie inadvertently breaks her neck.  Discovering her body, George knows that Lennie has gone back to the grove and the clearing, so he hurries to find Lennie before the other men do.  

While the action takes place in three days, in the course of his conversation with Slim, George relates what happened to him and Lennie in Weed before they have come to the present ranch. This memory acts as foreshadowing for the barn scene. However, the scene does not change to this time and place, so there is no real flashback. And, after Steinbeck's novella gained much success, he did produce the play as he had intended; there were 207 performances on Broadway.

That there is a patterned effect to Of Mice and Men is discussed in the critical essay of Peter Lisca--"Motif and Pattern in Of Mice and Men--who writes that Steinbeck devised a clear pattern to his narrative, one which lends it "a classic fate." For, as the title suggests there is a sense of mechanical action driving the lives of the men.