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Themes: Violence in ‘Of Mice and Men’

GCSE: English Literature

Title:  Themes: Violence in ‘Of Mice and Men’
Description  Themes: Violence in ‘Of Mice and Men’
Word Count:  650

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Carlson is another character associated with violence. He is unconcerned about killing Candy's dog (and in fact callously cleans the gun in Candy's presence).
He goes to watch the fun when Curley thinks Slim may be with his wife, and later goads Curley more, threatening to
'... kick your head off.'
Later he is very keen to get his gun to join in the hunt for Lennie. The last words in the book belong to Carlson, and it is little surprise that they reveal his complete inability to understand George's feelings about the death of Lennie.
Compared to the other characters, Lennie reveals an unintentional violence. He does not even think to fight back when Curley attacks him, but when he does, it is with immense and uncontrollable force. He has so little control over his own strength that he accidentally kills his puppy, and then minutes later snuffs out the life of Curley's wife.
His actions on these occasions are compared to those of an animal, powerful but thoughtless. Ironically, Curley's wife is attracted to him because of the violence he had shown in crushing her husband's hand.
It is the threat of violence to be used against Lennie that causes George to take the final step of killing his friend.

Dreams are one of the ways in which the characters combat the loneliness and hopelessness of their existence.
The most obvious example is the dream farm, a dream shared at first only by George and Lennie, but which later spreads to include Candy and Crooks.
Crooks reveals that it is the favourite dream of the itinerant ranch hands:
'Seems like ever' guy got land in his head.'
It is a powerful dream, however, and even the cynical Crooks falls under its spell for a short time.
To Lennie, the dream is an antidote to disappointment and loneliness, and he often asks George to recite the description of the farm to him.
Curley's wife is another who has dreams, her fantasies of a part in the movies and a life of luxury. Part of her dissatisfaction with her life is that it can never measure up to her dreams.
Significantly, none of the characters ever achieve their dreams.
Steinbeck shows the world of nature to be a beautiful and peaceful one, but threatened by the actions of men.

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