Foreshadowing in of Mice and Men
Foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men By Alex Luciani Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is the tale of an unlikely friendship between two men trying to achieve their dream. It’s set in California during the Great Depression. Foreshadowing is used throughout the story to predict major events that happen later on. It fills the reader with a sense of dread and anticipation and keeps the story suspenseful. It makes the tone of the story more tragic, as the characters are predicted to fail. The ending of the story, in which Lennie accidently kills Curly’s wife and George kills Lennie, is predicted using foreshadowing.
Foreshadowing creates intensity and keeps the story interesting, which suggests that foreshadowing can make a book more enjoyable. Lennie’s accidental murder of Curly’s wife is foreshadowed several times. At the beginning of the novel, George discovers that Lennie has been petting a dead mouse that he has in his pocket, and it’s implied that Lennie accidently killed it while petting it. Later, Lennie kills his puppy in a similar manner when he accidently crushes it. The repetition causes the reader to assume that Lennie will accidently kill something else.
George tells Slim that he and Lennie had to leave Weed when Lennie grabbed a girl’s dress and was accused of attempting to rape her. George explains that as soon as the girl started screaming, Lennie was “so scared all he can think to do is jus’ hold on” (41). It is in an almost identical situation that Lennie accidently kills Curly’s wife. Curly’s wife let Lennie feel her hair, but as soon as she thought Lennie was going to mess it up, she started screaming. Her screaming caused Lennie to hold on to her hair, and eventually led to him breaking her neck.
Lennie’s death is predicted when Carlson decides to shoot Candy’s dog. Carlson proposes that the dog is more trouble than he’s worth and that Candy might as well let him shoot the dog. He explains that he won’t hurt Candy’s dog, that he’d shoot him in the “…back of the head. He wouldn’t even quiver” (45). The detail that Carlson uses to describe how he will shoot Candy’s dog is uncomfortable to read and causes the reader to suspect that Lennie will meet his end this way. When George kills Lennie at the end of the story, he does it in an identical manner to what Carlson described.
George shoots Lennie right in the back of the head, just as Candy’s dog had been killed. George’s eventual killing of Lennie is foreshadowed right after Carlson kills Candy’s dog. Candy tells George that he “…oughtta have shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t oughtta of let no stranger shoot my dog” (61). The significance of this statement isn’t fully revealed to the reader, but it fills them with anticipation about who will be killed. This statement resonates with George, and eventually convinces him to kill Lennie, to save him from suffering at the hands of Curly or anyone else.
George, realizing that Lennie will always be in danger, chooses to let him die peacefully, at the hands of a friend. John Steinbeck uses foreshadowing to keep the reader in constant suspense, always guessing as to how the events of the story will play out. Foreshadowing builds intensity in many scenes, and can even reveal reasoning for the choices that characters make. The reader begins to dread the ensuing events of the story because they’ve been predicted to be unfortunate for the characters. The use of foreshadowing makes Of Mice and Men interesting and more enjoyable as a whole.