Updated February 5, 2021

The Point of View in Of Mice and Men

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The Point of View in Of Mice and Men essay
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The foremost purpose of any piece of literature, is to clearly and effectively get a message across to the audience. Authors accomplish this by tailoring the story to fit their ‘big picture’, and carefully deciding the point of view in which the story will be told. The narrative of a story is the most direct line of communication from the author to the reader, this makes the point of view vital to the comprehension of the work, no matter what that point of view is. John Steinbeck in his novella Of Mice and Men, utilizes a unique point of view, objective third-person, to allow the reader to interpret the characters in an unbiased and impartial manner, exemplifying his message of one’s own morality.

Steinbeck’s use of third-person point of view ensures the story is told without condemning or condoning any of the actions of the characters, this is cause for the ambiguity of George’s final action in whether or not it was the right thing to do. The intent of this stylistic choice is to make the reader feel uncomfortable as the story progresses and Lennie finds himself in more compromising positions. A first-person or third-omniscient point of view would tell the reader exactly how to feel about these developments through the other characters, where as third-limited forces the audience to draw their own conclusions.

In tandem, this third-person objective narrator describes George and Lennie’s journey, from the beginning in a distant and detached tone, “They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders.” (Steinbeck 2). By adding this extra layer of disassociation between the narrator and the characters, the need for liberal interpretation of the story by the reader becomes even greater.

Furthermore, there are no instances of self-analysis that may show favoritism towards the thoughts or feelings of any one character. George and Lennie’s vocabulary, the dynamics of their relationship, and their actions with other individuals is evidence to the reader of their separation from the rest of the characters talked about. Stienbeck wrote, “George’s hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to its master, Lennie approached, drew back, approached again. George snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Lennie laid the mouse in his hand. ‘I wasn’t doin’ nothing bad with it, George. Jus’ strokin’ it.’” (9). From this seemingly insignificant interaction alone, readers can deduce the weight the relationship holds, they can also identify Lennie’s weaknesses, as well as George’s strengths.

It may seem odd that the narrative in Of Mice and Men is detached from the story itself, especially when considering the insight into the life of each character the reader has. However, this showcases Steinbeck’s unique talent for characterization, as it is solely from the characters’ idiosyncrasies and social behaviors that we can decipher their morals, values, and feelings and connect them back to the overall theme of the book. Of Mice and Men is a symbol about what it means to care for and protect another human to the fullest extent. Steinbeck’s story of George and Lennie’s dream of owning their own ranch, and the obstacles that stand in the way of that ambition, reveal the nature of, dignity, isolation, sacrifice and virtue.

The Point of View in Of Mice and Men essay

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The Point of View in Of Mice and Men. (2021, Feb 05). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-point-of-view-in-of-mice-and-men/

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