Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

steinbecks characters don't communicate with a lot of dialog. What kind of communicatIon do they most often use?

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Steinbeck’s characters rarely communicate in a straightforward fashion, often relying on gestures to convey meaning. For example, George does not tell Lennie he loves him, but instead spins improbable stories about rabbit farms to keep his friend happy. Curley’s wife cannot express how bored she is in her marriage, so she hides from Curley whenever possible and flirts with many of the other men she meets. Candy cannot admit to a sentimental attachment to his aging dog, so he makes excuses or changes the subject when the other men ask him to put the dog out of its misery. The characters let their strongest feelings remain unstated throughout the work.

The effects of this widespread reticence are tragic. Twice, Steinbeck notes the climate of fear that pervades the book. (Slim thinks, “Maybe everybody in the whole world is scared of each other,” a thought Curley’s wife later echoes.) Because George does not try to reason with Curley, he assumes he has to kill Lennie in the story’s final moments. Because Curley’s wife cannot bare her lonely soul to the men around her, the men persist in believing she is merely a “lousy tart.” George never gives voice to his love for Lennie, so Carlson cannot understand why George seems distraught after pulling the trigger. Steinbeck depicts a series of heartbreaking misinterpretations, each the result of the characters’ common terror of saying what they’re thinking.



Body language.

If you imagine the characters, facial expressions and body language work to communicate the isolation and angst of all the characters.