Why does Of Mice and Men begin and end in the same place?

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The title of the book comes from a poem by Robert Burns, who wrote it after overturning the nest of a field mouse with his plough. In the penultimate stanza, Burns observes that:

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men,Gang aft agley, And leave us nought but grief...

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The title of the book comes from a poem by Robert Burns, who wrote it after overturning the nest of a field mouse with his plough. In the penultimate stanza, Burns observes that:

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men,
Gang aft agley,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

This is an apt description of George and Lennie's situation. They have laid plans for a life of freedom and independence, working their own land instead of someone else's, and by the end of the book these schemes have come to nothing. It is fitting that they should end up physically as well as metaphorically exactly where they started.

However, in the final stanza of the poem, Burns says that the mouse is more fortunate than he is himself, since "the present only toucheth thee," while the poet is plagued by unhappy memories of the past and fears for the future. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses the idyllic, peaceful setting, similarly described at the beginning and end of the book, to emphasize the difference between the hope with which George and Lennie approach the future as the story opens, and the despair with which they look back on the past as it ends. There is a contrast between the calm of the landscape and the emotions of the people in it, but also between the consistency of the scene and the fluctuating feelings of George and Lennie.

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Of Mice and Men begins and ends at the pool of water outside the ranch. There are several reasons for the starting point and the ending point being the same: first, it makes sense in terms of the novella's plot. George has told Lennie, forcefully, to return to the pool if he should for any reason get in trouble, and George will meet him there. Lennie knows he is in trouble after he accidentally kills Curley's wife and goes where George can find him.

On a structural level, having the book end where it begins offers a sense of closure to the reader.

On a symbolic level, the pool represents a liminal space that is in civilization but not of it. When they were working on the ranch, Lennie and George were in a heart of darkness where evil lurked. The pond, however, is like an oasis and offers the two men moments of freedom in which they can be closer to nature and freer of society's restraints. It is as close as they will come to the freedom represented by the farm they dream of owning. They enjoy this free space as the book opens, and it is here that Lennie is released to death's freedom as the book ends.

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Of Mice and Men begins and ends in the same place for both literal and metaphorical reasons. The plot-driven reason that the book begins and ends in the same place is that when Lennie and George are first approaching the ranch at the beginning of the novel, George tells Lennie to hide in the brush near the Salinas River if anything happens to him. Therefore, at the end of the book, after Lennie has killed Curley's wife by mistake, Lennie goes to the brush to hide and wait for George to help him.

In a more metaphorical sense, George and Lennie find themselves very much in the same position at the end of the book as at the beginning. Though they have long yearned for a place of their own on which to raise vegetables and animals, they are still working for others. In addition, Lennie is still running away, as he did in the past, for mistakenly harming other creatures and people. Their situation has not changed.

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The final scene returns to the opening setting of the “jade pool”. The pastoral calm is still noticeable, but the action of heron, “swallowed the little snake”, hints at the violence in nature. Moreover, the silence of the original setting is disturbed by the “gust” of wind and the noise of the leaves. The appearance of the “gigantic

Rabbit” relates with Lennie’s fear for the future. Steinbeck uses the rabbit as a symbol of a time of peace in quiet and natural surroundings. This device is used to give the reader an insight not only into what Lennie thinks, but also how he thinks.

 

By ending the novel where it began, Steinbeck brings the action of the book in a full circle; consequently giving a feeling of completeness to the story. Additionally, by his use of cyclic patterns, the reader is left with the feeling that the characters are forever doomed to wander from farm to farm, endlessly repeating the hopeless cycle of their lives.

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John Steinbeck's novel, Of Mice and Men, begins and ends at the edge of the Salinas River.

In the opening of the novel, George and Lennie are resting by the river banks. George is discussing with Lennie the rules which need to be followed when they arrive at the new ranch. Lennie's "misbehavior" caused the men to flee their last job. George tells Lennie that if he gets into any trouble that he (Lennie) needs to return to the river's edge so George can find him.

The end of the novel, therefore, is set at the edge of the Salinas River. Lennie has accidentally killed Curley's wife and, remembering George's words, returns to the river's edge.

In both the beginning and the end of the novel, the day is coming to a close. The sun is beginning to set and nature is active. A snake appears, a heron plucks it off of the water's edge. Contrastingly, the snake at the opening of the novel survives. In the end, the heron swallows the snake.

The importance of this imagery, seen in both the opening and closing of the novel, foreshadows Lennie's death. The snake, unaware of the threat (of the heron), slithers out among the leaves. Lennie, like the snake, is unaware of what is to happen. Lennie is killed by George, putting both men back where the story began.

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