Why and how is the setting significant in Of Mice and Men? How does the author use it?I need really clear and brief points to explain the WHY the setting is significant in the novel and the way the...

Why and how is the setting significant in Of Mice and Men? How does the author use it?

I need really clear and brief points to explain the WHY the setting is significant in the novel and the way the author used it. Thanks for helping

1 Answer | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The principal setting in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is a big bunkhouse where nearly all the workers live. It is a room with nothing but rows of narrow beds. The walls are undecorated. It is everything that a real home is not. The setting vividly reveals what kind of lives these men must live. They own virtually nothing but a few minimal possessions shoved under their bunks. They can't own much portable property because sooner or later they will be out on the roads again carrying everything in their backpacks. When they find other jobs they will end up in bunkhouses not much different from the one they are currently living in. There are no books in evidence, but only some cheap pulp magazines. Evidently they have to wash outside, and they must be using an outhouse because there is no suggestion of any kind of indoor plumbing.

The setting makes us realize why George and Lennie share the dream of owning their own ranch. It would be a real home and not another spartan barracks which provides only temporary shelter and temporary existence. The men inside the bunkhouse can hear the neighing and stomping sounds made by the horses, suggesting that the humans and the animals share similar lives. They live to work and work to live. The men are not bitter or rebellious but merely empty. They talk little because they are physically tired most of the time and have little to talk about anyway.

The fact that these men own so little property and occupy so little space shows how easily they could be ejected and how much they resemble the mouse in Robert Burns' poem. The title "Of Mice and Men" does not refer only to George and Lennie and their dream of owning their own subsistence farm; it implies that all of these men are like mice.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,983 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question