Mice of Men Dreams of Commitment

2286 Words Oct 13th, 2012 10 Pages
Of Mice and Mein The Dream of Commitment.
Louis Owens The Eden myth looms large in Of Mice and Men (1937), the playnovella set along the Salinas River "a few miles south of Soledad" (Of Mice and Men, p. 1). And, as in all of Steinbeck's Califomia fiction, setting plays a central role in determining the major themes of this work. The fact that the setting for OfMice and Men is a Califomia valley dictates, according to the symbolism of Steinbeck's landscapes, that this story will take place in a fallen world and that the quest for the illusive and illusory American Eden will be of central thematic significance. In no other work does Steinbeck demonstrate greater skill in merging the real setting of his native country with the thematic
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146 Critical Insights

George and Lennie achieve all of this dream that is possible in the real world: they are their brother's keeper. Unlike the solitary Cain and the solitary men who inhabit the novel, they have someone who cares. The dream ofthe farm merely symbolizes their deep mutual commitment, a commitment that is immediately sensed by the other characters in the novel. The ranch owner is suspicious ofthe relationship, protesting, "I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy." Slim, the godlike jerkline skinner, admires the relationship and says, "Ain't many guys travel around together I don't know why. Maybe everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other." Candy, the onehanded swamper, and Crooks, the deformed black stablehand, also sense the unique commitment between the two laborers, and in their moment of unity Candy and Crooks tum as one to defend Lennie from the threat posed by Curley's wife. The influence of George and Lennie's mutual commitment, and of their dream, has for an instant made these crippled sons of Cain their brother's keepers and broken the grip of loneliness and solitude in which they exist. Lennie's yeaming for the rabbits and for all soft, living things symbolizes the yeaming all men have for warm, living contact. It is this yeaming, described by Steinbeck as "the inarticulate and powerftjl yeaming of all…