Aim:- Describe how John Steinbeck creates the atmosphere of loneliness and desperation throughout the story and how his use of words helps him do this. Steinbeck creates a brilliant atmosphere throughout the story, Of Mice and Men He includes contrasts, similes and metaphors, the recurring themes of light and sound and suspense, he creates a very life-like and real atmosphere. The characters that have been used are also described in such a way that he creates a sense of atmosphere in the book. First of all, phrases involving light and sound are used.
At the beginning of chapter one, describes the scene very well, using phrases like, “fresh and green”, “yellow sands” and “golden foot-hill”. These are colours that give you the feeling of a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. Then, he uses such phrases as “pounded” which breaks the peace and implies an atmosphere, harsher. The light is again used “flamed with the light of the sun”, again giving us a different atmosphere. And, sound is used directly afterwards, “rustled”, to give us the atmosphere change again. This interrupts the natural calm again, making the place very vivid.
Once again, “half-darkness” is used with reference to light, broken by a sound, “whisked”. Steinbeck uses this method quite frequently throughout the book. The chapter ends in the same way as Steinbeck started it, with colour. “the red light dimmed on the coals” and it is interrupted by sound, “yammered”. It appears that he has a fascination with sun. This is carried through into chapter two. “Bright dust-laden bar”, and “the sun square” both create an atmosphere of light on a specific area. More sunlight is described, “rectangle of sunshine”, again followed by a harsh sound.
At the end of the chapter, “the sunshine lay in a thin line” is used to create atmosphere in a different way; to show the passage of time. Still having a reference to light at the beginning, chapter 3, broken by sound, to create the same atmosphere as before, “evening brightness” – “thuds and clangs”. This creates an atmosphere where only the main characters are highlighted and everything else is shadowed. Animal imagery is also very important in creating atmosphere. By describing people and things using this method, Steinbeck has created a vivid picture of events that you can relate to easily, because we all have experience of animals.
Lennie is described as “the way a bear drags his paws”. This immediately gives you the idea of Lennie being large. As you go through the book, animal imagery is used, especially regarding the relationship between Lennie and George. This is important, because the relationship is important with the things that are happening around them, and gives reasons for many of the twists in the plot linked to these two characters, so it is important to understand and have some idea of how George and Lennie’s relationship works. Their relationship is a ‘father and son’ relationship with George as the father.
Steinbeck creates atmosphere brilliantly in this book. Animal imagery is not only used to describe the characters, but also their movements, which give us an idea of the overall atmosphere and description of the two people. For example, “Lennie lumbered” shows us that there is tension between the two as it sounds like he doesn’t really care. The movements of other characters like Curley are described using animal imagery too. We get an idea of the atmosphere in the bunkhouse when Curley is described as a “terrier”. The language used by Steinbeck is very powerful. The descriptions of people are very important in creating atmosphere too.
The contrast between George and Lennie, “walked his opposite”, creates atmosphere aswel. It makes u think about the saying ‘opposites attract’. This is important for atmosphere because in order to understand the story, and the surroundings, we must have an idea of how the characters relate with each other. Descriptions of Slim, “understanding beyond thought”, can helps with atmosphere, because it says there is tension when he enters the room, “all talk stopped”. The farm life is also portrayed, “wore blue jeans and a short denim jacket”, further character descriptions.