Which are the literary devices used by John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck’s most profound use of literary devices comes in the form of symbols.  The symbolic images in the novel bring out its primary and secondary themes.  Consider Steinbeck’s use of Candy’s dog’s murder.  The killing of this old dog is something that haunts the landscape of the novel.  It is a symbol, and a great literary device to reflect how the world filled of Carlsons and Curleys have no regard for that which does not bring immediate benefit to them.  The image of the farm, and the manner in which George tells the story is something that is repeated, first introduced at the start of the novel and brought out all the way until the end.  In this, the literary device of repetition is used effectively in order to maximize its impact.  I would say that the use of foreshadowing is another great literary device that brings out much in way of meaning and purpose in the novel.  From the opening, when George tells Lennie about their special rendezvous point to George insisting to Lennie that he stay away from Curley and Curley’s wife, there are multiple uses of foreshadowing whereby the reader has a sense that Steinbeck is reminding them that this seemingly simple story will carry tremendous implications by its end.

kmfrantz | Student

The first would be oxymoron. The two character Lennie Smalls is considered an oxymoron becuase the character himself is a big, oaf like man, and yet his name would imply otherwise.

Next, you find numerous examples of foreshadowing in this novella. For example, at the beginning of the story you see George tell Lennie that if something should go wrong then they should meet right back at the bank. Low and behold after the death of Curly's wife that is where the two men are forced to meet. This is why the novella has a cyclical structure, it starts and ends in the same location. Another example of foreshadowing would be the killing of Candy's dog. Candy tells George that he should of killed his own dog instead of letting someone else do it. This then leads into George being the one to kill Lennie before someone else can.

The farm itself is considered a microcosim in the fact that every sect of society is reprepresented in that one ranch. You have the mentally challenged, the napolian complex, the black guy, the old guy, the crippled guy, the woman... all in this one location.

There is also symbolism in that the dream farm of George and Lennie could represent the American Dream and at the time this dream was disillusioned with the idea of the Great Depression and how many could not in fact achieve said dream. The reader knew that something would prevent the two men from obtaining their dream.

sameehajafri | Student