How does characterisation in "Of mice and men" display the themes and issues within the text? "Of Mice and Men" - John Steinbeck

Essay by dcx1eHigh School, 11th grade April 2004

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The 1930's novel, Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck during the Great Depression, is based on the struggle of life. Whether the life is that of a mouse, or that of a man, the endeavours to dream, hope, and merely exist, still remain. Our engagement with the characters in the novel allows us as a reader to understand particular issues relevant in the text. The characters induce the reader to deal with many universal themes and issues that can be transposed through both time and context such as the theme of hope. Through the character of Lennie, Of Mice and Men deals with the issue, "hope brings happiness", a universal understanding that the reader can engage with and respond to, because of how Lennie exhibits the topic in the text.

A major aspect of Lennie's character, which we as a reader can engage with, is his inability to be happy unless he has something to look forward to.

Lennie, like most people in today's society, cannot go through his life without some incentive. If you are not working towards a goal, then there is little validity in working hard at anything, for there will be no reward in the end. In Lennie's case he needs to work hard and earn money, in the hope that in the future he and George will own their own piece of land. If Lennie did not have this incentive, he would be less enthusiastic about working so hard. Lennie also has the responsibility to keep himself out of trouble, or George will not allow him to tend the rabbits on the farm, this ultimatum forces Lennie to try his hardest to satisfy George, even though he has little knowledge of the difference between right and wrong.

The rabbits and the farm that...