Dialect and Realism
Men such as George and Lennie were commonly known as “bindlestiffs” during Steinbeck’s time and the author gained much of his source material for Of Mice and Men from the time he spent working on farms in this Salinas River Valley. Due to his time spent in the company of these men, Steinbeck depicts these individuals realistically, through colorful language, slang, vulgar words, and racial epithets which mimic the way the farmhands actually spoke to one another on the ranch. Steinbeck earned significant recognition for his realistic portrayal of this segment of the population during the time of America’s Dust Bowl and Great Depression.
Early on, George describes the mice that Lennie has killed, albeit unintentionally, in the past. When Slim gives Lennie one of his newborn pups, readers likely guess it’s only a matter of time before the dog endures the same fate as Lennie’s former pet mice. Lennie’s propensity for harming delicate things, paired with the fact that he and George had been run out of their previous town, leads readers to believe that when Curley’s wife finds herself alone with Lennie, disaster will certainly ensue.
George’s repeated instructions for Lennie to hide in the brush if trouble arises along with the knowledge that Lennie got in trouble in the previous town foreshadow that Lennie will likely find himself in a troubling situation soon.
The execution-style death of Candy’s dog in order to put it out of its misery foreshadows George’s decision to end Lennie’s life in the same manner for a similar reason. Candy’s continual regret over not shooting his dog himself also hints at George’s decision to end Lennie’s life himself rather than leaving Lennie’s fate in the hands of the mob.
Steinbeck constructed Of Mice and Men as a drama, which causes the chapters to feel much like scenes in a play. For instance, each chapter occurs in one physical space and most of the story is conveyed through dialogue between a relatively small cast of characters.