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Franck Pavloff

Quotation One: Guys like us that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place …With us it ain’t like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us. We don’t have to sit in no bar room blowin’ in out jack jus’ because we got no place else to go. If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us.

In this passage, George is explaining the nature of the friendship to Lennie as the two men settle in for the night at the clearing toward the end of the first section of the book. The special bond the two men share represents an idealized conception of male friendship that forms one of the central themes of the story. Suffering is described by George as resulting from loneliness, which is illustrated through the experiences of many characters in the story. Loneliness is portrayed in the story as both a consequence of and a contributing factor to weakness. According to George, this weakness can be overcome through devoted relationships, like the one experienced between Lennie and himself. George recognizes the rarity of their friendship and understands how lucky the two of them are to have each other, even though the nature of this bond is misunderstood by most of society. After Lennie kills Curley’s wife at the end of the story, disregard for the value or importance of friendship is illustrated through Candy, who shows no concern for George as he faces the inevitable death of his friend. Instead, Candy shows more concern for himself and his own interests, and asks George if the two of them could still buy the farm without Lennie’s involvement. Human life is viewed as disposable by the workers, with the exception of Slim, who understands why George is mourning the loss of his friendship with Lennie.

Quotation Two: “S’pose they was a carnival or a circus come to town, or a ball game, or any damn thing.” Old Candy nodded in appreciation of the idea. “We’d just go to her,” George said. “We wouldn’t ask nobody if we could. Jus’ say, ‘We’ll go to her’ an’ we would. Jus’ milk the cow and sling some grain to the chickens an’ go to her.”

As George retells the story of the dream farm to Lennie in the bunkhouse, Candy overhears the conversation and expresses interest in joining the two men. Initially, George is unsure and hesitant, but when Candy offers his life’s savings toward the pursuit of the farm, George opens up to the idea, as it further makes the realizing the dream seem possible. The dream of the farm is the only source of hope for George and Lennie—and now for Candy, as well. The farm represents freedom and an ability to do as one chooses outside of the realm of influence of other people. By retelling the story repeatedly, the dream provides comfort to the men, and especially to Lennie. Overall, the dream represents the American ideal of self-reliance, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Quotation Three: A water snake glided smoothly up the pool, twisting its periscope head from side to side; and it swam the length of the pool and came to the legs of a motionless heron that stood in the shallows. A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the little snake while its tail waved frantically.

This quotation expresses the predatory, inescapable nature of all of existence, which is a dominant theme throughout the story. The beautiful clearing, which serves as the setting for both the beginning and the ending of the book, is described by Steinbeck as the most serene and idyllic place imaginable. The natural beauty of the clearing evokes ideas of an Eden-like paradise, which is confirmed through George’s decision to designate the spot as a safe meeting place for and Lennie and himself to meet in the event that either of them gets into trouble.

However, the clearing at the end of the book is also characterized by the water snakes that are preyed upon by the heron. The water snakes, like the snake in the Garden of Eden, represent humanity’s decline from grace, and they become prey to the heron, just as all the weak in society become prey to those considered stronger or more advantaged. At the beginning of the story, the snakes slithered through the water freely and without harm, yet they unsuspectingly meet their tragic fate at the end of the story as they fall prey to the heron. This parallels the fate of Lennie, who is unaware of his impending death as he glides through the clearing.

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