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Laura Amy Schlitz

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8. Symbols (Viewer Discretion Advised)

Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck, 1937
Famous for: Bunnies, an “interesting” perspective on women, a horrible, tragic ending.

Hamlet's symbol ic obsessions are as all-absorbing as George's...just different.There’s no symbol shortage in Of Mice and Men but there is one symbol that looms over them all—the farm that George describes to Lennie (and anyone else who will listen).

In Steinbeck’s story, the farm represents more than a business opportunity. It represents a promised land of economic freedom. It represents George and Lennie’s impossible dream–their American Dream.

An aside: George finds himself thinking wistfully about those days before he began taking care of Lennie. We find ourselves thinking wistfully about those days before we staged this silly song-and-dance act with a pitchfork. You read that correctly:  We staged and videoed a song-and-dance act about George and Lennie’s star-crossed American Dream. It’s about to start playing. What were we thinking? We’re really not sure.

For George’s sake, and for Lennie’s, kindly click here to go the next Recap. It’s about Steinbeck’s cinematic story-telling techniques. Click over there now, please, and we’ll  just pretend this never happened, ‘k?


 

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There’s one symbol in Of Mice and Men that really stands out: The imaginary farm that George and Lennie dream of owning. The farm promises an idyllic life where George and Lennie would be sheltered from the trials of the world. Let’s take a closer look at this symbol—next.

George and Lennie had a dream E-I-E-I-O
They had a dream to own a farm E-I-E-I-O
An acre here, and an acre there,
Here an acre, there an acre, Everywhere an acre acre
George and Lennie had a dream E-I-E-I-O.

And in that dream they owned some … bunnies! E-I-E-I-O
They owned some bunnies for Lennie to pet E-I-E-I-O
A soft one here, and a soft one there
Here a soft one, there a soft one,
Everywhere a soft one soft one
In that dream they owned some bunnies E-I-E-I-O.

Now George and Lennie’s dream is what you call a symbol E-I-E-I-O
The farm stands for freedom and self-reliance E-I-E-I-O
A better life here, and a better life there,
Here a better there a better Everywhere a better better,
George and Lennie’s farm stands for freedom and self-reliance.
E-I!!!! E-I!!!! O!!!!!!!!!!!

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck | 60second Recap study guide resources

 

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