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Death - the final motif in Of Mice and Men

Uploaded by funkmasterlisi on Jan 21, 2002

My mother is dead, my father is dead, my sister is dead, and now I am going to kill myself. When reading that list is becomes obvious after the first couple of deaths that there are more to follow. In John Steinbeck’s masterpiece Of Mice and Men, the use of deaths as a motif, or a reoccurring theme, is just the opposite.

As we begin our journey with George, “small and quick, dark of face,” (2) and Lennie, “a huge man, shapeless of face,” (2), we experience the death of a mouse that Lennie carries in his pocket to pet. Once the two men have reached the ranch that they plan on working on, a set of puppies are killed because their mother is unable to feed them. With the promise of a new dog Candy, a worker with only one hand, allows Carlson to shoot is old suffering dog. Lennie is also given a puppy that he accidentally kills while playing with him. Lennie also kills Curly’s wife, be breaking her neck. The final and most significant death is that of Lennie, who is shot in the back of the head, by his companion, George.

After taking a serious look at all of the deaths in Of Mice and Men, it is conclusive that there is a large correlation between several of the deaths played out. The first comparison is obvious, the mouse and Lennie’s puppy. The two were both killed by Lennie, and both used to satisfy Lennie’s obsession with soft things. The death of the four puppies and Curly’s wife also seem to fit together. The puppies were killed because Lulu was unable to feed them; just as it was necessary that Curly’s wife dies because she caused nothing but trouble amongst the workers. The final set of deaths is that of Candy’s old dog and Lennie. Candy’s old dog had become useless; it was suffering “ The dog struggled lamely…” (24) Once Lennie killed Curly’s wife it became apparent that if Lennie was not killed or “put to sleep” he would indefinitely suffer. The death of the dog early on foreshadows Lennie’s death.

Although Steinbeck uses death as a motif, and hints at things, the deaths at the end of the book almost come out of the blue. The reader can be left shocked or at the very least bewildered. When Lennie and Curly’s wife begin to have...

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Uploaded by:   funkmasterlisi

Date:   01/21/2002

Category:   Of Mice And Men

Length:   2 pages (499 words)

Views:   3604

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