1 October 2012
The novella Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, and the short story, “The Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst share many significant similarities. Both stories revolve around a pair of companions, bound together by family ties, love and loyalty. George Milton and Lennie Small are the protagonists in Steinbeck’s novel. They are migrant workers who travel together in California during the 1930s. Due to Lennie’s mental shortcomings, he creates a lot of conflict for the pair, who share an idealistic hope for their future. Likewise, the narrator of “The Scarlet Ibis” is the older brother to Doodle, a young boy who was born with a rare physical handicap. Despite the burdens that Doodle causes for his sibling, the two boys are companions until the very end. “The Scarlet Ibis” and Of Mice and Men are comparable due to the character’s shared traits, similar hopes for the future, and the parallel circumstances surrounding the deaths in the two tales.
The protagonists of the two stories are similar for many reasons. First, both George and the older brother from Scarlet Ibis are caretakers to their disabled companions. Doodle was born with a physical abnormality and was told by doctors that he might not live past three years old. In addition, it was never expected that he would be able to walk exert much physical effort. As a result, his older brother becomes his constant escort. “Doodle was my brother and he was going to cling to me forever” (Hurst). Similarly, George is the adult role model for Lennie, whose mental limitations keep him in a state of oblivion. Like a parent, George often has to scold Lennie when he has done something bad, like keep a dead mouse in his pocket or taking a newborn puppy away from its mother. Lennie’s shortcomings cause more severe conflicts, such as the death of Curley’s wife. Despite needed his constant supervision, George loves his friend, and does the best he can to keep him safe. He never wanted Lennie to be unsupervised or out on his own. “George said, ‘I want you to stay here with me, Lennie’” (Steinbeck 13). In addition to these similarities, the characters in the two tales possess comparable hopes for their uncertain futures
George and Lennie share a dream. Doodle and his brother also daydream a lot about their future. In hopes to obtain a little farm all their own, Lennie and George migrate from job to job, hoping to save enough money to make their dream come true. George narrates
Fortin 2 his vision of the future and Lennie giggles with excitement at the idea of having his own rabbit hutch. “ Go on George…tell it. How I get to tend the rabbits” (Steinbeck 14). Sadly, this dream stayed just that, an unattainable hope for the future. Doodle and his older brother spend a lot of time basking in the serenity of Old Woman Swamp. There, they imagine spending the rest of their lives. Similar to the farm Lennie and George imagine, Doodle tells his brother that they would “build a house of whispering leaves and the swamp birds would be our chickens” (Hurst). Their imagination continues to run wild and the boys envision playing all day and huddling beneath the trees when it rained. Unfortunately, the dreams of both partnerships shatter due to circumstances surrounding the deaths of fragile Lennie and Doodle.
Lennie and Doodle share one final similarity: they both die at the hands of their best friends. When Doodle was born “everybody thought he was going to die” (Hurst). Miraculously, he was able to survive for six years. His brother pushed him to live as normal