Of Mice and Men is one of the most read novels for different grades. Its richness in stylistic, plot, themes and character makes it a preference in every literature class. The author is considered a master story teller especially because of his ability to use a play format in a novel. This playful approach enabled Steinbeck to explore some of the most complex ideas of his time. Here are themes you are likely to explore in your essay:
The entire novel is about the aspirations and dreams of human beings. The author seeks to portray forces that are always working against these dreams. The idea expounded by the writer is that human being assign meaning to life by creating dreams. Is a human being cannot create dreams or have aspirations; his life will be a string or collection or meaningless days that are not related. Though every person is propelled by his dreams into actions, each step or achievement means something different to each person. Despite the differences, all human dreams have a similar desire, to acquire and maintain self dignity.
This is a common feature from the beginning to the end of the novel. Every person desires to have contact with another. From the novel, different people have unique ways of dealing with their bouts of loneliness. For ranch hands, they turn to alcohol and women who are found in town. Crook, Curley’s wife and Lennie deal with loneness by engaging in conversations. The author seems to suggest that despite everyone having lonely moments, the manner of drowning that varies yet each person is satisfied.
This is an ironical theme that is clearly brought out by Steinbeck. Though human being desire companionship and company, they create situations and instances that keep away fellow human beings. One such barrier according to the author is gender. Men do not trust the presence of women in their world and neither do women trust the presence of men. Curley’s wife feels totally separated in a word dominated by men. Another barrier is race as depicted by Crooks. Candy feels the isolation that comes with age. Such separation is puzzling considering the companionship desire in human beings.
John Steinbeck shows compassion to his characters, most of whom are underdogs. Powerlessness comes in the form of financial deprivation, intellectual lack, societal segregation, etc. Some of the powers overcome the characters, like Lennie and take full control despite his physical appearance. The author seems to suggest that it is human nature that causes powerlessness.
This theme suggests that human beings have no control over what happens in their lives. Their destiny is dictated by fate. For instance, fate intervenes to deny Lennie and George a chance to own a farm. There are many more examples of intervention by fate.
Other themes that can be used as a basis for your essay include natural, classic and Christian influences, loss of paradise and the connection between violence and sex.