Da Vinci Code


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Dan Brown

The symbols used in the story are abstract representations of ideas and concepts expressed through the characters, colors, objects, figures, and items within the story.

The Dream Farm

This may be considered the most prominent symbol in the story. George constantly retells the story of a beautiful piece of land that the men will own in the future, where they can exist in peace and happiness, tending their own crops and livestock. It is the representation of freedom and an idyllic life. The other characters, such as Candy and Crooks, are drawn to the dream, as well, as a means of escape from their miserable lives on the ranch where they are discriminated against for their perceived weaknesses. The dream farm represents a paradise and a reprieve from the cruel, predatory nature of the outside world.

Candy’s Old Dog

Candy’s dog is a symbolic representation of how anyone perceived as no longer useful or without purpose is subject to a fate dictated by those that are “superior.” The dog was once useful as a sheepdog on the ranch, but now is old and decrepit, and its only purpose now is as a companion for Candy. The value of this companionship is not recognized or honored on the ranch, and Carlson insists that the old, useless dog must be killed. This represents the notion that the strong must always, without fail, dominate over and destroy the weak. This message is internalized by Candy, who sees that his purpose and use at the ranch are dwindling, and he is concerned about his own fate among workers that are stronger and have an advantage over him.

Lennie’s Puppy

The puppy is yet another representation of the strong maintaining victory and dominance over the weak. Lennie fails to recognize his own strength, but it is still expressed through his dominance over the puppy, which he accidentally kills in the same way that he had killed many mice in the past. Although Lennie is physically stronger than the other men are, his mental disability marks him as weak, and he succumbs to the same fate as the puppy at the hands of George. Lennie has innocence similar to that of the puppy, and he is unaware of the fact that he is soon to be subject to the natural predation that exists among men.

The themes are the universal and fundamental concepts that are explored through the story.

Predation of the Weak by the Strong

The most prominent theme in the story is the bleak picture that is painted of the hierarchy of existence present within all of humanity. Like all people in the world, all of the characters are shown as being isolated and alone, representing every man for himself. They all yearn for the comfort that is provided by true friendship, and they appreciate being attended to by anyone that will listen for a moment to their experiences. Loneliness and isolation result in helplessness among the characters, but this does not stop any of them from asserting their dominance over others that are considered weaker than they are. Even Lennie, who may be considered the weakest character in a sense due to his mental incapacity, asserts his dominance unknowingly by killing mice and the puppy, which are beings that are weaker than he is. Lennie, not being conscious of this dominance, represents how predation is a part of nature; it is outside the realm of cognition and conscious control. Furthermore, Steinbeck suggests through the characters and their actions that oppression is, in fact, born out of weakness.

The Fraternal Bond in Male Friendship

The relationship between Lennie and George is characterized by the qualities of respect, devotion, and loyalty. These qualities are at odds with the predatory nature of existence for the workers on the farm, as well as for existence for humanity as a whole. The bond between the two men is kept intact through their shared vision of an idyllic life on a beautiful farm. The farm therefore represents fraternity, togetherness, and mutual protection. This is evident in how the men on the farm that are considered the weakest and most marginalized—specifically, Candy due to his age and Crooks due to his skin color—are magnetically drawn into the dream, yearning for the freedom and contentment such a place would provide, along with the safety in friendship. The farm provides an alternative to and an escape from the loneliness and adversity all of the men experience in their current lives as migrant workers. However, the harsh, predatory nature of existence is too powerful, and the bond in the friendship between the men is proven too weak, resulting ultimately in the demise of the bond between George and Lennie by death. The tragic loss and grief that George feels at the end of the story is not appreciated or understood by Carlson and Curley, which represents how the cruel nature of humanity has no comprehension of the value of male friendships.

The American Dream

Unhappy with their present lives, the majority of the characters in the story dream of something better for themselves beyond the ranch. Crooks drifts into a fantasy of working in the garden on George and Lennie’s farm, and Candy also jumps at the idea of joining the two men on their dream property. Curley’s wife also dreams of a better life for herself as a movie star, but she has given up on it through her marriage to a man that she does not like. It is ingrained in Americans to strive for the ideal of absolute happiness obtained through the fulfillment of desires. The self-reliance and freedom that would be acquired by George and Lennie if they owned their own farm represent the quintessential American dream. However, George comes to understand through the events he is faced with that this dream is impossible to realize and that freedom, protection, and contentment are not available to all men equally.

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