Naturalism, Irony and contrast in Of Mice and Men
In literature, authors tend to use a variety of literary elements in order to shape their written work, and one of these elements include setting. This is true in the novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck due to the fact that setting plays a big role in this novella. The story takes place a few miles south of Soledad, California, near the Salinas River during the 1930s and it is about two migrant workers and their endeavor to get the farm of their dreams. In this novella, Steinbeck's use of setting conveys the naturalism philosophy throughout the course of the novel, and shows Irony and contrast In Chapter 1 and chapter 6 when sudden, unexpected events happen in beautiful places.
Naturalism is a literary genre that emerged in the 1900s, it shows the dull struggle of daily existence. It sees individuals as being at the mercy of the biological and socioeconomic forces, naturalists believe that Nature doesn't care about plight of humans and that humans are subject to powers beyond their control. This is projected in the novella of Mice and Men when Steinbeck uses natural imagery when opening and closing a new chapter; the environment does not change from its calm, pleasant, and relaxed state even though the events that happen to the characters in the chapters are atrocious, dreadful, and awful. An example is in chapter 5 when Curley's wife has a shocking and unforeseen death "Her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck" (91). In the naturalist philosophy, characters often face various raw, unpleasant experiences which causes them to degrade. Just like what has just happened to Curley's wife that has just been killed accidentally by Lennie when he broke her neck. Steinbeck then goes on to give a vivid description of the environment after this shocking scene describing the "deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon. Already the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains, and the hilltops were rosy in the sun. But by the pool among the mottled sycamores, a pleasant shade had fallen" (99). The area is being described with a sense of calmness, and tranquility, which is the opposite to what is happening in the lives of the characters of this novella, which in this case is Curley's wife. Steinbeck chooses to focus in the description of the untroubled environment in order to transmit and show a contrast between the characters lives and the environment they are in because he wants to project the fact that nature does not show compassion to the characters. Comment by Janelle Ryan: Your explanation in the last part of the paragraph is a bit muddled, but you are on the right track.
Irony is portrayed in the novella Of Mice and Men through setting with the purpose of showing contrast between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. When sSteinbeck is first introducing the story...