It is hard not to notice that Of Mice and Men is written in a circular manner with the heavy use of locations that are repeatedly used in different scenes throughout the novella. Steinbeck made sure that all scenes are grouped by twos, thus balancing the repetitive pattern of the narration. The opening scene of the book is set in the same place as is described in the closing chapter— “green pool” (Steinbeck 1).
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It seems that the symmetrical nature of the novel’s beginning and the ending is meant to reflect the fact that the characters’ dream was never going to come true and that it was nothing more than a reflection in the Salinas River. It can be argued that the snake that survives at the beginning of the book and dies at the end foreshadows the tragic events that were meant to happen.
It also shows that Lennie and George were never going to escape the desperate circle of the routine of their lives. “The deep green pool of the Salinas River” that is “still in the late afternoon” creates the impression that the heroes have never moved from the place in which they revealed themselves to the reader for the first time (Steinbeck 36). Nonetheless, it provokes a deep sense of completeness and shows that just like the day marked by an event of a great loss, the story itself is coming to an end. However, the story of George cannot be finished without Lennie. He falters at the realization of what is about to happen. George listens to the playful recital of their dream and thinks about a cold and cruel reality in which his friend has to be shot.
The notion that a dream strengthens friendship and gives hope is an important theme in the novella. It runs throughout the whole book, showing that a sense of importance that one can get from having a common goal with someone allows them to surmount life’s struggles and tribulations. The first instance of this theme in the novella is the story of Candy and his friend. When this “tall, stoop-shouldered old man” loses his dog, he decides to become a part of George and Lennie’s team and to share their dream of becoming landowners (Steinbeck 12). The emptiness of the loss could only be filled with a new meaning, which comes from having shared aspirations with someone.
When Candy tells George that he is willing to put in “three hundred an’ fifty bucks,” he feels like there is a possibility for new hope. Moreover, his desire to “make a will” and leave his part of the land to his friends shows that the hero’s soul lies open before new friendship. Another example of the theme of a dream is Crook’s memory of the past, which he holds in an attempt to bring his happy experience of the bygone days into the present. The character longs for the lost equality of relationships, and this dream provides him with relief from his sickness and bitterness. Crook expresses his desire by telling Lennie that every person “needs somebody” to be around (Steinbeck 24).
It can be argued that the most important dream in the book is the one shared by George and Lennie. Their desire to become landowners infuses the story with a sense of optimism. The common dream propels the whole narrative and becomes its major theme.
Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. Print.