Describe the beginning and ending of a text, explain why its important. "Of Mice and Men", by John Steinbeck

Essay by jrowlandHigh School, 11th gradeB, September 2006

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In the novella "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck the beginning and ending is very important. In the beginning Steinbeck describes the setting of the Salinas River and the environment it is in, stating how quiet and undisturbed the area is. This is also where the two main characters, George and Lennie are introduced. In this section the reader is also introduced to the way in which Steinbeck writes, using a lot of dialogue and literal language. At the end of the novella a key event takes place. One of the main characters is killed. This is very important as it highlights the strength of a friendship and by doing this, it also prevents greater wrongs from taking place.

The novella begins with an in-depth description of the Salinas River, with the Gabilan Mountains on one side and the other covered in trees, with a path leading through the trees and out of sight.

Steinbeck reinforces the fact that it is a very tranquil and serene setting, with little human interference, just the animals in their natural habitat. However the location is then disrupted when George and Lennie run into the area, upsetting the local wildlife and breaking the peaceful image. This is important as it reflects what happens at the end of the novella where George and Lennie are sitting in a similar environment, having a calm and peaceful conversation and then Lennie gets shot, disrupting the serenity of the area once again.

Once Steinbeck has finished describing the setting he then begins to describe the two main characters in the novella, George Milton and Lennie Small. He describes George as "small" and "quick", with "dark features" and "restless eyes". Steinbeck describes Lennie by often referring to him as animals, such as a "bear" and "terrier dog", he also uses animal's features to describe Lennie's size, for example "Lennie dabbled his paw in the water". Steinbeck does this to show Lennie's social status, that which is sub-human because of his mental illness. Steinbeck emphasizes Lennie's size and strength a lot in this part of the novella which is very important as later on in the novella his strength is the reason for key events such as the death of Curley's wife.

Furthermore, the beginning of the novella is where the reader is also introduced to Steinbeck's writing technique. Steinbeck regularly uses straight forward literal language and dialogue to recreate the language of George and Lennie and the setting in this opening scene. This is important because it helps build the characters, giving the reader a better understanding of the characters, their place in society and way of life. Steinbeck writes as they speak, leaving off the ends of words to help recreate the characters speech, for example "...an' I'd get a job an' make up the res', an' you could sell eggs an' stuff like that". The quote "Ain't got no relatives nor nothing" is a good example of both the way Steinbeck writes and the characters way of life, illustrating Steinbeck's use of colloquialisms and straight forward literal language and also reflecting how the characters drift from place to place, not having a permanent home. This quote, in grammatical terms, is incorrect because it uses a treble negative however Steinbeck uses it effectively in the situation to reflect the characters social status in the novella.

The ending of the novella is extremely important because it shows the strength of George and Lennie's friendship. It takes place beside the Selenas River where George has just found Lennie after he ran away from the ranch where he killed Curley's wife. George and Lennie are both sitting down, talking about their dream to "live off the fatta the land" but with Lennie's back facing towards George, George raises a gun to Lennie's head and shoots him. Throughout Lennie's life he has innocently killed animals, not on purpose but because he is unaware of the great strength he possesses. It started off with a mouse but Lennie's victims would gradually grow in size and status, with George following behind, making up for all his companions wrong doings and teaching him right from wrong. However when George finds out Lennie has killed a human, I think he feels that he has failed, failed at his role to teach Lennie what is accepted in society therefore George has to do the lesser of two wrongs. George shoots his best friend to provide Lennie with the mercy he needs. The ending is therefore very important because, due to the strength of George and Lennie's friendship, George is willing to protect Lennie in such a drastic way as to take Lennie's life.

In the beginning of the novella the reader is introduced to Steinbeck's way of writing, the two main characters and also the setting of the Selenas River, the same river that is the setting of the end of the novella where George has to sacrifice the life of his companion for the good of society. Both sections, the beginning and end, are very important in the novella as they contain key events which firstly set up the two main characters in the novella and lastly, the life of Lennie small is ended by his best friend and companion, George Milton. George is forced to do this to protect Lennie from greater wrongs which society, if left to explore it, would surely inflict on him.