The Role of Setting in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice & MenThroughout time man has encountered many trials and tribulations. One of these unpredictable changes was the depression era in the Western region of America. From the beginning to the end of the novel, Of Mice & Men (1937), by John Steinbeck, life is portrayed as cruel and an insurmountable conquest. During the 1930’s the worst economic collapse of the world occurred : the Depression. The setting throughout this novel sets the emotions high because of the hardships that were encountered by two men looking for work. These men were George Milton and Lennie Small. George was “small and quick and hard of the face, and had sharp strong features” (9). Lennie was the opposite a ” huge man, shape less of a face, with large, pale eyes, with wide sloping shoulders” (9). While the simple minded and powerful Lennie tries to keep out of trouble at the ranch, he worries about how George may get angry at him if he makes a blunder. Curly, the boss’s son, is a trouble maker and pressures Lennie into fighting him which he does and pays the price. In addition, Lennie ends up killing Curley’s wife, thus leading to the death of Lennie. George shoots him utilitarianly, which means he did it to bring safety to anyone who may have encountered him. With Lennies death George hoped to maximize happiness for the greatest number of people. Their dream once of having their own ranch died with Lennie.
Setting is encountered in every chapter and allowing the reader to visualize the surroundings which contribute to this story more than any other element. The story is set in 1930’s California on the verge of Mexico. The river Steinbeck speaks of, “The Salinas River,” happens to be the birthplace of Stei…
…lood.” This brings the story to and end when George killed his one and only friend, Lennie.
Ironicaly, Steinbeck was a marine biologist and when he wrote this book he was in the ways of looking at water. The pond that Lennie drank out of, which the river that ran into it came from his home town, and the cruel view of nature as the snake that probably ate the mouse that Lennie killed was devoured by a heron. Thus, showing that things have a chain reaction in nature and Lennie, some what, got revenged upon by the mouse and the other mammals that he killed. The setting is the biggest element of the novel setting the mood at the begining of each chapter and vividly examining the way it was during the depression. This finally answers the question “Where did I go George?”
Steinbeck, John, “Of Mice and Men.” (1937). May 3, 2004. New York,New York.