Discuss the Significance of Violence to the Messages of Steinbecks ‘of Mice and Men
Violence is significant and essential in ‘Of Mice and Men’ because it helps us to see that violence rules the life of the characters. This is out of frustration because they are all stuck in the same place and can’t go anywhere or do anything with their lives making them lonely and isolated, so they treat each other cruelly not taking notice of how this affects other characters hopes and dreams. Violence is used as an outlet for their thwarted dreams. This is significant because it links to Steinbeck’s worldview that we should all be equal and have the freedom to choose and to prosper (the American Dream) but this is out of reach of the characters but they will do anything to try and achieve it.
Curley is represented as the most obviously violent character and when he appears the atmosphere is always tense. Through his violence we can see that he is insecure with his status as he is stuck between the boss and the workers, this is revealed when candy explains curley often picks on big guys and we are prepared for his later anger, which culminates when he talks about Lennie and how he wants to ‘shoot him in the guts.’ Steinbeck allows us to see that Curley is very uncomfortable in his position and is very defensive in order to try and prove his dominance, this is significant to the message in the novel because it shows curley’s desire for power.
Steinbeck uses Carlson’s insidious violence to prove why the American Dream is no achievable, because he is showing us the reality, which is selfishness and ruthlessness. This is revealed through his casualness of violence when talking about killing candy’s dog, when he casually remarks ‘’Tell you what. I’ll shoot him for you.” The suggestion of doing this himself and the evident satisfaction of doing so shows the ruthlessness of his character. He also uses his own luger pistol which is the same pistol George later uses to kill Lennie, the parallels in the language and description