The Different Worlds of Men and Nature By Cooper McCaffrey, Corinne Davies, and Kira Sneddon

In chapter one of the novel Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck shows a noticeable difference in how nature is without man in it and how nature acts when man enters into it. Before Lennie and George enter into the setting, Steinbeck uses calm words and phrases to describe the forest and the wildlife inside it. When describing the wildlife in the forest before the men, Steinbeck says "the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones,"(Steinbeck 2). The difference between the world of men and the world of nature is shown because when the men are entering the scene the same rabbits who were once sitting calm and quietly "hurried noiselessly for cover,"(Steinbeck 2). When Lennie and George enter the scene the author uses darker words to describe the atmosphere of the forest. "For a moment the place was lifeless,"(Steinbeck 2). Steinbeck uses negative terms like "lifeless" to show what man does to nature. Everything became more hectic once the men came into the setting whereas the forest and wildlife were calm before. Another example of this is how some more wildlife reacted to George and Lennie coming into their area of the forest. "A silted heron labored up into the air and pounded down the river,"(Steinbeck 2). By using the word "pounded" to describe the action of the heron, Steinbeck makes nature seem more chaotic and stressful once the two workers are introduced.

In chapter 2, the bunkhouse is a long building that’s in the shape of a rectangle with whitewashed walls and a plain, unpainted floor. All of the walls had a small window in it, except for one wall, which had a, “solid door with a wooden latch”. (Steinbeck 17). There were eight bunks against the walls and all of the bunks except for three, had blankets. The other three had their burlap ticking showing. Each bunk had two shelves for the men to put their things on. Most of the shelves were packed with “little articles, soap and talcum powder, razors and those Western magazines ranch men love to read”. (Steinbeck 17). There were also, “medicines on the shelves, and little vials, combs; and from nails on the box sides, a few neckties”. (Steinbeck 17). The men had many small belongings. There was a large square table placed in the center of the room with playing cards scattered all over it. They didn’t have chairs at the table, instead they had boxes to sit on. George and Lennie’s mattresses were made out of straw, and George found a yellow can in one of his shelves and read the label. It said, “‘positively kills lice, roaches, and other scourges.’” (Steinbeck 18). Reading this gave George the understanding that his bed was infested with bugs. The bunkhouse has a dirty feel to it. Between the spray that kills lice and roaches and the whitewashed walls with the plain floors, it sounds like a dusty place that has a musky smell to it.

Chapters one and two are very different because of the change in setting. In chapter one, George and Lennie are first seen near a hillside bank searching for a place to rest for the night. In chapter two, they are seen in a bunkhouse on a ranch that they are now working on. These two settings are very different because the first chapter has more natural beauty, while the second one is a bit more gloomy and gray. “A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.” (page 1) This quote from chapter one shows that the hillside is a beautiful sight to see. This entire first paragraph is very descriptive and shows the natural beauty of it. “The bunkhouse was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted.” (page 17) This quote shows that the bunkhouse isn’t necessarily bursting with beauty or color, and that the building is a little bit gloomy.


Created with images by wolfgang_vogt - "grey heron heron bird"

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