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Structural Divisions – of Mice and Men Essay Sample

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Structural Divisions – of Mice and Men Essay Sample

It may not be obvious at first, but all the stories are structured in several ways and with intent. In other words, this is called narrative structure and this can be described as the structural framework that underlies the order and manner in which a narrative is presented to a reader. Plot is what happens in a story, and structure is the order in which the novel presents itself, and in our “Of Mice and Men,” the structure has taken the shape of a circle, both balanced and thoughtful. They are several ways the John Steinbeck has approached to developing the story plot however the change in setting is one structural division that clearly shifts the locale.

So one asks, what is setting? Setting foreshadows the character’s state of mind, conflict; it also contributes to noticeable patterns in the story. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, there are several settings in the story which further enhance the plot and each of the settings are in the form of a circle as the opening scene falls in the meadow which leads to the bunk house then to the barn and then back to the meadow. Another interesting feature of the novel is that each chapter also has a circular motion, as each chapter starts with a sparse description of the setting, much like a playwright would do at the beginning of a play scene. The first and last scenes have descriptions of nature and set the atmosphere for action and in between are the entrances and exits of characters. The advancement of the shifts in each of the settings clearly parallels the development and enhancement of the plot/story and the changes in feelings and attitude that the characters encounter. The begging of the story primarily takes place Steinbeck calls the “Meadows.”

A serene beautiful place with rivers and mountains in the distance dotted with crisp golden leaves (pg 1). This is where the story unfolds and also comes to a resolution in the end. From here you can sense the time of year it is and it’s clear that it is fall as the leaves are golden brown and cluttered all over the grass. During the meadow scene we get to know a fragment of George and Lennie’s past and this scene sets the foundation of George and Lennie’s aspirations and future plans each hope to accomplish. Towards the end of the chapter, the author gives another description of the meadows but at night with the “whispering of the sycamore leaves in a little night breeze” (pg 16). The second chapter starts with description of the bunkhouse as a ` and goes on to describe the interior of the building (pg 17). In this bunkhouse numerous events take place and are needed in order to progress the story and this is the foundation and setting where the several other characters are introduced one by one. As time goes by, relationships are made and interactions between one another take place.

Curley and his wife are also introduced and they serve as important characters as well as they are the ones needed to provoke the crucial conflict in the story as we first get a glimpse of Lennie’s fascination with Curley’s wife. The story then further progresses as Curley then starts to combat Lennie as he feels that both him and George are hiding something, the other characters do help but it can clearly be concluded that none of the bunkhouse “crew” like Curley and only deal with him as he is the Boss’ “henchman” as he is the son of the Boss. After a while, all the characters leave the bunkhouse for supper leaving Candy’s old dog in isolation and Steinbeck again describes the dog’s movements (pg 37). The introduction of the third chapter again portrays the “evening brightness showing through the windows of the bunk house” (pg 38). This scene is too set in the bunkhouse and this is where the George explains their past to Slim and also confides in Slim about Lennie’s past difficulties in Weed.

This is the chapter also in which a lot of foreshadowing occurs when Carlson gets sick of Candy’s old dog, comparing the mutt to Candy himself and decides to shoot the old dog (pg 48) and this clearly foreshadows the concluding resolution when George shoots Lennie to save him of his misery. The story then moves forward as the discussion of their aspiration of owning a farmland leaks and is wanted too by Candy. Again in this bunkhouse at this time of night, another dispute occurs between Lennie and Curley as they get into a fight however Lennie doesn’t fight only until George told him to and accidentally crushes Curley’s hand and this could foreshadow the death of Curley’s wife, as it too was accidental. This leads to the fourth chapter which is introduced with yet again another description of setting yet this time of the Barnyard which is a crucial scene as this marks the second major shift in setting and also because this is the very scene which then provokes the final resolution.

The story progresses forward again with the new locale setting along with the beginning of a new relationship between Lennie and Crooks which then leads to the appearance of Crooks cruel personality where he triggers George’s imagination into thinking if something bad ever happened to George. However then Curley’s wife belittles Crooks, as she makes it even more evident then it already is that he is a Negro. Ahead of this, George returns and everyone leaves the barn leaving Crooks in isolation which is then further portrayed with a description of Crooks alone in his barn applying some lotion (pg 83). Chapter five opens with the barn and its description during the day time, stacked high with new hay (pg 84). It then moves to where Lennie sits stroking a dead puppy which he accidentally kills and again this is another attempt by Steinbeck to imply the foreshadowing of a greater death which is then later on in the chapter revealed as Curley’s wife.

He was in fascination with her soft hair however he starts to mess it up and Curley’s wife does tell him to let go but Lennie with panic grasps the hair tighter and ends up killing her. John Steinbeck does try to show some sympathy in two both conflicting characters Curley’s wife and Crooks showing the showing the greatest and worst aspects of sympathy. The story then moves forward as it reaches the boiling point, which then leads to the climax as depicted in chapter six. “The deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon. Already the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains…” (pg 99) was the introduction of the third and final shift in the story which leads us back to the meadows among its sycamore leaves. This is the final setting where George eventually reaches Lennie in their “hideout” much before the other crewmembers do. He then reminisces about their dream and eventually shoots Lennie in the head to put him out of his misery.

This then is the final and ultimate death that the story undergoes and in another sense, is kind of a relief as all these deaths have finally been put an end to. Steinbeck uses structural divisions in this novel to great use as he using his circular structure to induce changes in setting and locale along with the development of his characters and in the end he clearly ends up progressing the story forward. The story started in the meadows, moves on to the Bunkhouse, which then leads to the Barnyard and in the final conclusion and climax, ultimately returns to the Meadows. This unique sense of division through the use of setting clearly stimulates the story.

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