Qn 6) How are each of the following important in the novel?
- Dogs and puppies
All important because associated with death – accidental or deliberate
Rabbits represent the dream – particularly Lennie’s bit of it; he constantly worries that he will do something to prevent it happening; but also symbolic of the softness that he lacks in his life, maybe motherly or feminine love.
Dogs and puppies – Candy’s dog was old and useless like Candy but also like Crooks and Lennie in some ways; Carlson’s jealousy ruined Candy’s life; but showed George the importance of his responsibility towards Lennie and his fate; Curley’s wife ruined it for Lennie and the others by being herself; the puppy represented hope but this was dashed by Lennie’s accidental killing of it.
The mice likewise represent death, Lennie’s strength and lack of understanding of the difference between life and death and responsibility towards animals in your care.
The deaths of the mouse and the puppy are omens of the future – both are accidental as was Lennie’s killing of Curley’s wife but George’s killing of him is the only other deliberate act in the book after the shooting of Candy’s dog and there are significant differences between the two, in terms of method and reason and emotion.
Qn 7) How does Steinbeck present the relationship between George and Lennie in the novel?
- How George feels about Lennie
- How Lennie feels about George
- Why you think George stays with Lennie
- The methods Steinbeck uses to present their relationship.
G depends on Lennie for companionship / fatherly relationship – invents a ‘dream’ to soothe him / helps him earn money but a liability / gets frustrated at Lennie’s poor memory / innocence / he worries about the future…
Lennie depends on George for survival (note the drinking of the water in the clearing / his advice about not speaking / for food/ for plans/ for looking after his job card/ also told to keep away from Curley’s wife ‘she’s jail bait’ / even when to fight back) and ultimately G takes this responsibility seriously enough to kill Lennie himself.
G stays with Lennie out of loyalty and a promise made to Lennie’s aunt Clara but also out of fear of loneliness
Steinbeck describes Lennie as mimicking G; L follows G; copies him; repeats him. Also manipulates him into feeling bad when G loses patience e.g. by offering to go live in a cave…S also has all the other characters question the nature of their relationship except Slim who immediately sees their mutual dependence. We see the pair threatened by others with only each other for support.
Qn 6) How does Steinbeck present loneliness and isolation in the novel?
- Who are the characters who are lonely and isolated?
- How his settings reflect it?
All characters are lonely and isolated; all are jaded and weighed down by grim realities of life:
Crooks – black, crippled, outcast, lives separately; oppressed by ‘Smitty’ in fight (Candy tells us), by Curley’s wife who verbally abuses him; the language used of him ‘nigger’ ‘cripple’; has known too many men with ‘land in their heads’…
Candy – old and useless; dog companion for years is killed; no one stands up for him against Carlson’s bullying; enchanted by the possibility of the dream stake…
Curley’s wife etc
The settings – think of the river bank (aka bush or brush) – lonely but peaceful and tranquil, a pleasant but temporary interlude; the ranch and bunkhouse– harsh, hostile, shared accommodation, few possessions, nothing personal, no privacy, criticism, competition and jealousy all around; Crooks’ room different but still with dung heap outside window!
Landscape is dried up, parched, generally lifeless, hot, unforgiving…
Even in the barn after Lennie has killed Curley’s wife the air is hot, silent, time stops, sunlight shafting down through holes in barn planks, sound and smell of horses, distant muffled sound of horseshoes being played outside, Lennie not included nor is Curley’s wife because she’s a woman and because Curley would be jealous of the attention she got / gave…
Qn 7) How does Steinbeck prepare you for the idea that the death of Curley’s wife is inevitable?
George’s ‘in case of trouble’ plan; the peace and tranquillity of the river bank and the water snake which gets away this time; the dead mouse and Lennie’s cover up of it; the gradually revealed story of what happened in Weed; Lennie’s clear lack of understanding of right and wrong; Candy’s dog and his revealing comment ‘I shoulda done it myself’; the luger and the use of it to kill Candy’s dog; the puppy smuggled in by Lennie; the killing of the puppy and Curley’s wife herself in her revealing comments about hating Curley and her broken dreams…