Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Analysis


No matter if you are a man or a mouse, your “schemes” are likely predestined to become “askew.” In Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, George and Lennie traveled through California in the 1930s looking for jobs. They had a dream of buying their own farm, yet that never occurs and the story concluded shockingly. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck provided numerous clues to hint at any events that were to come. In Of Mice and Men, there are many examples of Steinbeck using foreshadowing such as plans going “askew,” the death of Curley’s wife, no chance of the farm dream happening, and Lennie’s death. 

The title, Of Mice and Men, foreshadowed what would go wrong as the story progressed. John Steinbeck borrowed the title from a well-known poem. The title is an allusion to, “To A Mouse,” which stated, “the best laid schemes of mice and men, Go often askew ” (Doc A.). This allusion is just one of the many ways Steinbeck used foreshadowing to highlight what would go wrong further along. The next line of the poem stated, “And leaves us nothing but grief and pain” (Doc A). This further explained how Steinbeck’s use of allusion foreshadowed that the characters’ plans are predestined to go badly.

Another example that occurred was the death of Curley’s wife is foreshadowed throughout the novel. Lennie had been known for killing things that he would pet not knowing his strength. For example, “Lennie sat in the hay and looked at the little dead puppy that lay in front of him” (Doc B). Lennie was too rough while handling the puppy which led to its death. Afterward, Lennie explained to Curley’s wife that he enjoyed petting nice things. Curley’s wife allowed Lennie to pet her hair and ended up being too rough like he was with the puppy. Both Curley’s wife and Lennie panicked which led to him saying, “You gonna get me in trouble jus’ like George says you will” (Doc B). Lennie then killed her by being too harsh and his lack of comprehension amplified this situation. As mentioned before, Lennie wasn’t gentle and was unaware of his strength. The death of the puppy foreshadowed the fate of Curley’s wife tremendously.

Moreover, the chance of the farm dream not occurring was indicated as well. Lennie and George had a dream of having their own land and everything they ever wanted on it. Before they arrived at their new job, Lennie asked George to describe the dream. Yet, before George even finished what he was going to say, he became frustrated and said, “ Nuts!... I ain’t got time for no more….” (Doc C). George’s inability to describe the dream from the very beginning showed he had doubts about it especially with Lennie around. Even Crooks expressed how low the chances were by stating, “An’ every damn one of ‘em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ‘em ever gets it” (Doc C). Crooks knew how difficult it would be to achieve the dream since he saw many men go for the same one. George himself even subconsciously knew that dream was far out of reach.

In the end, Lennie’s death is predicted by the shooting of Candy’s dog. In the beginning, Carlson had been complaining about Candy’s dog since it was old and practically decaying. This led Carlson to ask, “Why’n’t you shoot em, Candy?” (Doc D). Candy was not too fond of this idea, so Carlson offers to do it himself. He proceeds to explain how he will kill his dog by saying, “Right back of the head. He wouldn’t even quiver” (Doc D). This reassures Candy that his dog will die peacefully, yet he still wished that he was there for its last moments. Later on, after Lennie killed Curley’s wife, Curley wanted to painfully shoot him. George made sure he found Lennie first, so he doesn’t go out the same way Candy’s dog did. With Carlson’s Luger, George, “brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head ” (Doc D). The deaths of Lennie and Candy’s dog were almost exact, except George made sure a stranger wouldn’t kill Lennie. The way Candy’s dog is shot predicts the circumstances of Lennie’s death. This allowed the reader to compose an idea of what would happen to Lennie.

John Steinbeck represented examples of foreshadowing which included plans going “askew”, the death of Curley’s wife, no chance at the farm dream happening, and Lennie’s death in Of Mice and Men. Every event led to another and or was the structure for an upcoming event.  Steinbeck’s use of foreshadowing allowed readers to prepare for key events in the novel.

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