Comparing Characterization in Of Mice and Men and The Pearl Steinbeck Of Mice and Men Essays


Of Mice and Men and The Pearl: Characterization

 

What is depth, and what does it mean? Depth is the extent, the intensity,

depth is a distinct level of detail. When someone talks about depth of

characterization, they are talking about the level of intensity that someone is

using in order to describe a character. John Ernst Steinbeck, in The Pearl, Of

Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath describes many of his main characters in

great depth.

 

Steinbeck and Characterization

 

What is depth, and what does it mean? Depth is the extent, the intensity, depth

is a distinct level of detail. When someone talks about depth of

characterization, they are talking about the level of intensity that someone is

using in order to describe a character. John Ernst Steinbeck, in The Pearl, Of

Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath describes many of his main characters in

great depth. In Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, a story of two traveling laborers

who are on their way to a job loading barley at a California ranch. The two most

important characters in the novel are George Milton and Lennie Small. They are

ordinary workmen, moving from town to town and job to job, but they symbolize

much more than that. Their names give us our first hints about them. One of

Steinbeck's favorite books when he was growing up was Paradise Lost by John

Milton. In this long poem, Milton describes the beginnings of evil in the world.

He tells of Lucifer's fall from heaven and the creation of hell. He also

describes Adam and Eve's fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. By giving George

the last name of Milton, Steinbeck seems to be showing that he is an example of

fallen man, someone who is doomed to loneliness and who wants to return to the

Garden of Eden. Perhaps this is why George is always talking about having his

own place and living "off the fat of the land," as Adam and Eve did before their

fall. Lennie is anything but small physically. He is a big man who is often

described with animal images. In the opening scene of the book his hands are

called paws and he snorts like a horse (Steinbeck, Mice 3). Yet Lennie is small

on brains and on responsibility. Someone has always taken care of Lennie and

done his thinking and talking for him. First his Aunt Clara looked after him,

and now George does. He is like a child, a term George uses several times in

describing Lennie to Slim. Lennie has a child's short attention span and

tendency to hang onto one idea stubbornly--the rabbits he will get to tend. He

is innocent and "has no meanness in him." In a sense, Lennie and George are both

small men. They will never be famous or amount to anything great. Even their

dream is a modest one. The ranch George is thinking about costs only $600. They

will have just a few chickens and pigs and, of course, rabbits(Steinbeck, Mice

56). They will not have to work real hard. George and Lennie are practically

opposites in the way they look and in their personalities. George is described

as small and quick with sharp features. Lennie is described as big, slow witted,

and shapeless of face. George can comfortably fit into the ranch hands' world.

He plays horseshoes with the others and goes along to the whorehouse on Saturday

night. Lennie plays instead with his puppy in the barn and spends Saturday night

in Crooks' room with the other outcasts - Crooks, Candy, and Curley's wife. Yet

it is very difficult to look at George and Lennie separately. Over and over,

under Lennie's prompting, George explains that their uniqueness lies in the fact

that they are together. As Lennie says (repeating George's words): "But not us!

An' why? Because... because I got you to look after me, and you got me to look

after you, and that's why." It is said  that Sigmund Freud, the famous

psychoanalyst, has written that each person has two sides - the ego and the id.

The ego is the person's thinking side, the leader figure within him or her. The

id is the physical side of the person, the body and senses. George is obviously

the leader of the two men; he does all of their thinking. He remembers the

things that must be remembered and instructs Lennie about them. Lennie,