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

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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...

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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.

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Most of the novel, or novella, is told through description and dialogue. There is hardly any prose exposition. This is because John Steinbeck fully intended to convert the book into a stage play to be produced in New York in 1937, the same year the book was published. He called his book "a playable novel" because it reads pretty much like a script for a stage play. It was extremely easy to adapt it into a script. All the dialogue is already written. The descriptions could be converted into stage directions in the script. Most importantly, everything the audience learns is conveyed through what the characters say and do. This makes Of Mice and Men different from most novels, in which there is either an anonymous narrator telling the story or a minor-character narrator such as Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Of Mice and Men contains virtually no narration or exposition, only description and dialogue. It is impossible to understand this work stylistically without knowing that it is "a playable novel," intended to be swiftly turned into a stage play. This explains why there are really only two important sets, both indoors. One is the bunkhouse, where most of the action takes place. The other is the barn where Curley's wife is murdered. Crooks' room is really just a part of the barn. The scene by the river could be represented on stage by little more than a fake campfire lighted by a couple of red lightbulbs.

Steinbeck needed two principal characters rather than just one. He relied heavily on dialogue and was a good dialogue writer, one of the best in America. George and Lennie can talk to each other and convey all necessary information to the reader, just as in a stage play. If Steinbeck had used an anonymous narrator or a minor-character narrator, he might have had only one main character. George has to keep explaining why he and Lennie travel around together. The main reason is that Steinbeck needed two main characters so that they could do a lot of talking to each other. The fact that Lennie is mentally handicapped means that George is always explaining things to him--and at the same time George is conveying information to the reader or the audience.

Although the story takes place on a big California ranch where men and horses toil in the fields, this is never shown. Some things are suggested by sound effects, such as horses stomping and horseshoes hitting "ringers" on the iron stake outside the barn. There is also the sound of a shot to signify that Carlson has just killed Candy's old dog outside. The sound effects described in the novel are intended to be used offstage in the play. You might refer to this as a stylistic device.

The most important things to emphasize about stylistic devices in Of Mice and Men would be dialogue and description. Much of the dialogue is in dialect, which is something you might comment on. These men are all uneducated and show their ignorance of grammar and proper verb tenses. You can see how Steinbeck characterizes Crooks, for example, mainly by describing his room and contents, along with his uniique dialogue. The description of the bunkhouse in the second chapter is excellent, and it is intended to be the stage set in the play. Readers appreciate the details such as the apple boxes over each bunk containing the men's meager possessions.

Both the book and the play were successful when they came out in 1937 and made Steinbeck famous. The story was twice made into important Hollywood motion pictures because it is so "playable."

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