Why does Steinbeck begin in this way? How is Steinbeck’s opening different from the beginning of ‘The Old Man at the Bridge'?

Essay by thatharlequingirlA-, August 2012

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How does Steinbeck begin his novella (short novel)?

How would you describe the opening? What are the effects of Steinbeck's choices?

Why does Steinbeck begin in this way? How is Steinbeck's opening different from the beginning of 'The Old Man at the Bridge' or the synopsis above?

What is being suggested about the place Lennie and George find themselves in?

Steinbeck begins 'Of Mice and Men' (OMAM) with a vividly detailed physical description of the setting. This is illustrated in the opening paragraph of Steinbeck's novella which is full of imagery describing the plants in the setting of the novella, lending a very serene and calming quality to OMAM. The willow trees are described as "fresh and green" and there is even a sense of majesty of the place with Steinbeck illustrating the "yellow sands" and the "golden foothill slopes". The emphasis on the words "yellow" and "gold" conjures up an image of royalty as gold usually symbolises wealth and wisdom and hence, amplifies the splendour of the surroundings.

The stress Steinbeck places on the plants (which are connotative of being full of life and vitality) causes his opening to feel like an untouched Eden that is beautiful and tranquil even, with animals frolicking about.

However, the beauty of this majestic Eden is marred by Man, as shown in the second paragraph where human interaction has caused the natural environment of the place to be affected adversely. This is clearly demonstrated by Steinbeck's use of the words "beaten hard" to describe the path that people walked through so casually.

There is also a sense of expectation that is brought about by the imagery present in the opening. The Salinas River "drops in close" and its waters would even slip "twinkling" before reaching a pool. The use of the words "drops...