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Steinbecks Of Mice and Men the ending of the

novel: Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin


them two guys?
Steinbecks novel ends with Carlson(and Curley) looking after the departure of
George and Slim, completely unaware of the magnitude of what has just
happened. Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin them two guys? Carlsons
incredulous insensitivity is foregrounded by Steinbeck as it gives
lasting testament to the indifference and cruelty of the lives of itinerant workers
on ranches at that time. The exasperated reference to hell acts as an ironic
summary of the nightmarish enviroment of the ranch. Carlsons ignorance gives
him no inkling as to the terrible sacrifce of George, whose execution of his friend
Lennie, must blight the rest of his own life. The loneliness of the ranch hands is
brilliantly compressed into that final, unseeing question.
By contrast, Slims awareness of Georges intensely difficult decision to execute
his friend Lennie humanely, in order to prevent Lennie being lynched, gives
readers hope of some supportive friendship for George. Without Slims
understanding, George would face a very bleak and isolated future.
For Slim symbolically helps George by the elbow and leads him up towards the
highway suggesting a positive, hopeful change for the devastated George. An
equal friendship has been formed. This cements it. Perhaps there can be hope in
a world riddled in lost dreams and quiet despair.

However Steinbeck does not let Slims compassion alter the emotionally arid
setting and gritty realism of the novel. This is the dust bowl in every sense:the
way of life is bleak and without joy and the workers seem hardened and isolatedimaginatively harshly limited and resigned to selfish self preservation.
Thus Carlsons bemused question at the end of the narrative leaves the reader in
no doubt as to the emotional/moral limitations of most of his characters.
Compassion is something to be wondered at, almost as if it is aberrant
behaviour: something way beyond the understanding of Carlson and

Curley. Their heartlessness is given the very last line of the novel in order for the
reader to be reminded of the callous ignorance of this world.
The question returns us to the tough realism of the narrative. Language is at
a subsistence level!
Steinbeck therefore underlines the unusual quality(integrity and compassion) of
George and Slim in a world compromised by poverty and bigotry.

Private English Tuition Manchester, Bolton and Bury:


Steinbecks Of Mice and Men- New Commentary on
Curleys Wife using strangeness and connection.

This is Steinbeck description of the dead Curleys wife after she has been
accidentally killed by Lennie.
Curleys wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the
plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her
face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her
rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very
lightly. The curls, tiny little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her head,
and her lips were parted.
As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much
more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much
more than a moment.
It is worth remembering that shortly before the narrative settles on Curleys wife
in this way, she has been fighting for her life wild with terror as Lennie
struggles to keep her quiet. Lennie shook her then so that her body flopped like
a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.

Think about why Steinbeck describes Curleys wife in such a peaceful


manner( like a tableau of the Sleeping Beauty awaiting her Prince) after her
violent death and before the execution of Lennie by his best friend , George.
Look at the repetition of the word AND.
Why does Steinbeck seem to OVERUSE this WORD as a CONNECTION between one
aspect of Curleys wifes appearance and another characteristic?
Q) WHAT message are we receiving

here in this extract as we read on

ACCUMULATING all these descriptive terms?


A) Maybe these ideas come into our minds?
REDEMPTION
RECONCILATION
HEALING
FORGIVENESS
REPENTANCE
CLEANSING
ELEGAIC

But first, lets remind ourselves about our first meeting and then notice what has changed
in the extract above once she is dead.
She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her finger nails were red.
Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red
mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers.

The original description is quite terse in its rhythm, suggesting the derisory glance of
George whose observations are also fuelled by Candys derogatory pronouncement
about her trashiness previous to this scene.

The artificiality of her constructed appearance emphasizes her falsity and vulgarity.
Curleys wife is unnaturally put together and looks very strange and inappropriate on
this ranch where she is the only female.
The abundance of red advertises her dream of being a film star, yet her delusional
reading of this dream has made her into a tarty looking female who is ill equipped for
her role as a wife.
So red in this instance is UNNATURAL as opposed to the STRANGE IRONY of her
natural, peaceful looking appearance later where she is actually dead.
In the later description the crucial word just might be the ADVERB of time, NOW!!
This suggests pivotal CHANGE and REDEMPTION.
This early description has become TRANSFORMED into an Elegy in the later
version!

In such a short novel, such repetition is important as it encourages us to


recognize similarity and then reevaluate what we feel about her character and
significance within the novel. with this added on scene.
So lets look at some strangeness and some connectionremember the last glimpse again..I
have underlined some strange connections..

You read this description and may feel an immediate sense of deja vu.

We have read this before, well almost!

We have read something similar to this description, yet this description is


far more positive and flattering than the first encounter with Curleys wife.
Curleys wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the
plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her
face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her
rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive and sleeping very
lightly. The curls, tiny little sausages, were spread on the hay behind her
head, and her lips were parted.
As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much
more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much
more than a moment.

There is an ironic strangeness here between the violence of her death and the
peacefulness and even healing quality of her final rest.

It is as if death has strangely healed the problem that blighted her life as far as
we knew her She gains a beauty and even innocence in death that she lacked in her
short life.Each scene connects with another, giving us a fuller version of Curleys Wife
and her tragedy.

Curleys Wife is dressed strangely and inappropriately for the ranch setting,
because she held onto a fanciful dream of being a film star. This delusion sustained
her(unhelpfully)through her short, lonely life on the ranch, married to Curley
whose capacity/predilection for violence surely spilled into her relationship with his
young wife?

We are made to see the ironic change between the originalvulgar glimpse of her
when George judges her harshly in an attempt to halt Lennies fatal fascination with

her, and this final glimpse when she seems at peace, and our gaze is reconciled to
her innocence and prettiness.
Without this echo, we would still have the horrible image of her death imprinted in
our minds and the death of Lennie as he imagines the proximity of his dream would
thus seem more deserved than a tragic necessity.
This scene is therefore an imaginative bridge between the readers uneasy
relationship with Curleys wife and the moving resolution to the novel, namely the death
of Lennie.
The rhythmic sound of this passage is trance like and respectful, as it is like
an elegy, summarizing the character now of Curleys Wife(through the repetition of
the accumulative use of AND) before she is released from our gaze and attention, and
into a now peaceful death.

Steinbecks Of Mice and Men-How Do we read the


ending? A Short Analysis and Tusi Note!

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