Saturday, January 7, 2012

“In a good novel, themes are portrayed by the characters.” With reference to a novel you have read, discuss the above proposition.

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“Of Mice and Men” is an exhilarating novel written by John Stienbeck. I will examine the themes of friendship, racism, and dreams by examining evidence from the text about the characters George, Lennie and Crooks.


The story describes two characters, George and Lennie who travel around with each other, looking for work, so that their dream of one day owning their own land may come true. However Lennie’s half-witted actions and tremendous strength lead to the death of a number of creatures, including the unnamed Curely’s wife. Although Lennie means no harm by his actions, George felt he could not risk letting him ruin any more lives, so to prevent any further mishaps George shoots Lennie.


The predominant theme in the novel is friendship. George and Lennie are close friends who do everything together, take the blame for each other and will do almost anything for each other. “Lennie crawled slowly and cautiously around the fire until he was close to George.” This quote shows how Lennie was attached to George and could not bare to leave him. It also displays Lennie’s loyalty and trust for George and his childlike behaviour. Another quote, which shows George’s deep concern, is “George said, ‘I want you to stay with me, Lennie’.” I personally find these quotes effective as they display George and Lennie’s clear attachment to one another and demonstrate how they are dependant on one another.


Expanding the theme of friendship, George and Lennie have to put up with each other, and their annoying ways and habits, which is not always easy. They also have immense respect for one another, “Well I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy”. This shows the relationship to be so close that it is quickly remarked on by others. “I turns to Lennie and says, ‘Jump in’. An’ he jumps. Couldn’t swim a stroke. He damn near drowned before we could get him. An’ he was so damn nice to me for pullin’ him out. Clean forgot I told him to jump in’.” This quotation serves to accentuate the trust Lennie has for George. I find this quote effective as it shows Lennie will do whatever George tells him to no matter how dangerous.


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Another primary theme in the story is the issue of racism. The characters in the book stay in a bunkhouse, but a black man called Crooks is left out because of his race. “They play cards in there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. Well I tell you, you all stink to me.” This quote shows how others have a very racist view towards Crooks merely because of his skin colour. I find this quote particularly effective as it gives a balanced view, Crooks is defending himself by insulting others.


“Guys don’t come into a coloured man’s room very much.” This quote shows what goes on in the daily life during the time this novel was written (17) and indeed what happens today. People avoid others of different race or colour. This quote is effective as it shows how Crooks is very aware that people don’t want to be around him.


One other theme in the novel is dreams. George and Lennie are constantly talking about owning their own land, but it is unlikely to happen because of lack of money and jobs. “Lennie said, ‘Tell about that place George.’


‘I jus’ tol’ you jus’ las’ night’


‘Go on � tell again, George.’


‘Well, it’s ten acres,’ said George. ‘Got a little win’mill. Got a little shack on it, an’ a chicken run. Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, ‘cots, nuts, got a few berries. They’s a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it’.” This quote shows how George knew exactly what he was looking for. I find this quote valuable as it describes exactly what they had in mind in great detail and shows that they are so desperate for their dream to come true, they have been looking for something.


In conclusion, I find “Of Mice And Men” a good read, the characters, George, Lennie and Crooks are designed in such a way that they portray the themes of friendship, racism and dreams successfully.





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