Of Mice and Men Coursework Essay

Submitted By charlottewatkins3942
Words: 1035
Pages: 5

The significance of the opening chapter of the book Of Mice and Men

The clearing into which Lennie and George wander, evokes Eden in its serenity and beauty. You first read about a blissful place where the foothill slopes are ‘golden’, recognizing the most respected colour, and the hillside banks ‘run deep and green’, creating an image of the contrast between these vibrant and ideal colours. Adjectives like these are used repeatedly in the first paragraph, throughout the description of the image Steinbeck is trying to create a typical paradise. By describing a land of ecstasy within the first paragraph of the book, he immediately creates a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for the reader. He details every part of this place to sound as appealing to the reader as possible, he mentions how the water is ‘twinkling over yellow sands’, which in itself describes a model vision for the majority of people. He then goes on to tell us how the ‘leaves lie deep and so crisp’, these leaves lie deep, therefore are hidden from anything that could ruin them. As well as this, he uses the word ‘so’ to emphasise just how crisp the leaves are, almost to ensure you understand just how ideal this paradise is.

After dedicating a paragraph to making the reader realize how beautiful this place is, without a mention of mankind, just the deep, green hills next to the twinkling sand, he begins the second paragraph. This is where he introduces people into the story, first by telling us about this innocent path between the most idyllic trees to be by a pool, he tells us how this path has been beaten down by boys who are going to disrupt the peaceful silence to swim in the pool, and tramps who come down from the highway late at night. By involving the highway in this sentence, immediately the idea of relaxation is interrupted, and making this the first few sentences you hear of people, there is an instant resentment of how they disrupt the natural beauty. You then receive the image in your head of an out-of-place ash pile that has been created in the midst of this innocent place through fires, and the land that has been worn smooth by the men who have sat on it.

The first mention of the main characters isn’t as appealing as the description of paradise. He tells us how the rabbits sat quietly on the sand before they were scared off. He describes the place as ‘lifeless’ until these two men emerged. Out of context ‘lifeless’ is seen as a negative word, however because he has previously been telling the audience how calm and peaceful this area is. He uses the word with a different meaning, and follows this through to create a negative tone by introducing these two strangers who emerge randomly from the motorway, which is a busy and crowded place compared to the peacefulness of the paradise he has created. However, before he introduces them properly, he describes them to the reader. He tells about how they are wearing almost identical outfits, however he then goes on to explain the differences between their physicality, by doing this he highlights their differences, and by doing so he immediately makes it clear how different these two individuals are. He uses the word ‘opposite’ when comparing Lenny to George, as well as this, when he describes George, he talks about how his hands and his features were strong, while as Lenny was a small man with a shapeless face. He compares Lenny to a bear dragging its paws, and tells us that his arms did not swing but hung loosely, this omits the positivity from Lenny’s character within the first page, creating more respect and admiration for George.

In their descriptions and interactions, Steinbeck shows the men's relationship: George takes care of Lennie, who is childlike and mentally handicapped, constantly giving him advice and instructions: Don't say anything tomorrow when we get to the ranch; come back here if there is any trouble; don't drink the water before you check out its quality;