Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Of mice and men

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In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, the roughness and difficulties of society has led two men into a world of treacherous hardships and heartless people who have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever. But through these struggles of agonizing troubles and hard paths, came a bond that in those days, was rare and uncommon in a place where it was every man for himself. But despite this strong and everlasting friendship, they still cannot escape the fact that one of them plainly does not belong in a world of speeding meteors that hit so hard and so fast, leaving the two men with only themselves to look out for, for the support and compassion needed for their survival. In this world where the strong overpower the weak, finding amusement in proving their superiority, the two men find themselves unable to escape the grasps of the cruel and intolerant society of man.

Passage 16 describes the event where Carlson decides that Candy’s dog should not live another day and decides right then and there that it will be eliminated from the world. A little while before this passage, Carlson had still been discussing with Candy about having his dog shot. He explained that the old and useless dog wouldn’t even feel a thing the way he’d shoot it. In fact, it wouldn’t be so much of a loss since Slim’s female dog, Lulu, had just given birth to nine puppies, four in which were drowned. This action can also be known as survival of the fittest, in which the world has no tolerance for the weak, and leave them to perish. Slim would surely agree to allow Candy to have one of the newborn puppies. A little bit after this passage, Candy explained to George and Lennie that he should’ve been the one to shoot his own dog, and not let some stranger do it for him. This remark immediately and evidently signifies a sense of foreshadowing that’ll something similar to this situation will occur, but this time, to George and Lennie. This can be deduced because readers know the comparison of Candy’s dog with Lennie, and how Steinbeck created Candy’s old dog to not only show readers the intolerance for the weak in society, but also to show the dog being parallel to Lennie.

In society, life is nothing but a means of survival of the fittest, in which the strong overpower and conquer the weak, leaving them to perish in a world where people’s heads just turn the opposite direction without even the slightest care. Candy’s continuous begging and pleading to let his old companion live because he had owned him ever since it was a pup, merely had any affect whatsoever on Carlson’s cruel and heartless soul, and his constant determination that the dog must be eliminated eventually becomes reality when Slim, the most respected guy on the ranch, finally agrees that the dog must go. Candy’s companionship with the dog and his love for it meant absolutely nothing to Carlson and the others at the ranch and unfortunately, probably never will. Carlson, regardless of Candy’s affection, thinks that he’s actually doing everyone a favor, including Candy by killing the stinky dog who doesn’t even have enough teeth to chew with. He figures that anything that old would be much happier out of this world. In other words, he does what he did because it was what HE wanted, or what was in his best interest to do. These actions in which Carlson killed Candy’s dog without a care, establishes the cruel and injust world where only the strongest survive, and the weak are left to perish without any signs of protection in the harsh and uncaring society. This is true even until today in our very own food chain, where only the strongest species stay on top and prevail, while the weak and defenseless species are eaten, and destined to become prey for life. Candy knows this, and once he is too old to contribute to the ranch, he too, will be eliminated by people more capable than he is. In this means of “survival of the fittest” only the people good enough are left to survive while the ones that are absolutely useless, are removed, in this case, Candy’s old dog.

Steinbeck’s tone in this passage also shows the harsh cruelness in Carlson’s words. “Le’s get it over with, we can’t sleep with him stinkin’ around in here.” Those simple words set up the pitiless people that were part of humanity at the time, and even people of today. This gives readers a mood that Carlson isn’t going to take back his idea, and is determined to get rid of the dog no matter what. Steinbeck also shows irony in this passage by making it so that Slim, the “prince” of the ranch, who was the most understanding and compassionate person on the ranch, did not refuse to let Carlson shoot the dog. Readers would think of all people, Slim would be in Candy’s defense, but not only did he not help defend Candy, he practically just turned his head the other way.

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This passage proves significantly to the novel because it shows readers how heartless society can get, how intolerant stronger and “fitter” people can be towards people less capable than they are. In this world, the strong will always conquer the weak, and the weak will always be left powerless and unprotected from the grips of humanity. Carlson’s ever- continuing determination towards Candy’s dog shows society’s mercilessness in eliminating the weak, but also show the rest of the world’s feelings toward people less capable than they as well. Begging a pleading will never be rewarded, nor will it ever even be significant towards those who are nothing but coldhearted.

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