Animal Imagery In Of Mice And Men

Topics: Books

In the novel, Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses comparisons between animals and humans to demonstrate Lennie’s animalistic qualities. Steinbeck compares Lennie to animals to illustrate his innocence, immaturity, unawareness, and curiosity. Animal imagery is used to provide insight to the characters personalities and behaviors through the comparison between Lennie and a bear, his obsession with rabbits, and his similarities to Candy’s dog. Throughout the novel, Steinbeck compares Lennie’s natures and habits to that of a bear. At the beginning of the novel, Lennie’s gait is described as similar to the way a bear drags his paws (2).

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The word “drags” hints a sense of relaxation and calmness which is evident in Lennie’s personality. Lennie is not concerned with the trivial matters that consume the other characters. As Lennie bends down to get water from the pond, he dabbles his big paw in the water and wiggles his fingers to make circles(3).

“Dabbles” illustrates the delicacy in his movement and shows his unawareness to his immense, bearlike size. Lennie is not worried about anything except how the water ripples. He remains unaffected by the everyday struggles of the majority of people in this time period.

The comparison between Lennie and a bear show his unusual and immense size, but also the curious and careful nature of his personality. Lennie’s obsession with rabbits shows his immature and innocent personality. After Lennie kills one of the pups, he is extremely concerned with the fact that George might not allow him to tend the rabbits anymore(85).

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Lennie’s immaturity is portrayed by his inability to realize the full extent of what he has done. Before George shoots Lennie, Lennie makes sure that he will still assume the position as the rabbit tender(105). This is another example of how Lennie’s immaturity is illustrated.

Although Lennie just killed Curley’s wife, he is only concerned with the rabbits. Lennie’s love of rabbits is a clear example of his immaturity and innocence. Candy’s relationship with his dog is similar to George and Lennie’s connection. Candy tells Slim “He doesn’t mind taking care of his dog,” but Slim agrees he needs to be shot(45). Lennie and Candy’s dog both were unable to escape death, and Slim agrees in both situations that it is for the better. Towards the end of the dog’s life, Carlson explained to Candy that “he’d shoot the dog right in the back of the head. He wouldn’t feel it”(45).

After George shoots Lennie, Curley points out “right in the back of the head”(107). George shot Lennie himself so Lennie would not be afraid. Neither the dog or Lennie saw it coming, nor were they aware that their lives were about to end. The comparison between Candy’s dog and Lennie illustrate Lennie’s innocence and his unawareness of what he had done. Animal imagery is used throughout the novel to show the comparison between Lennie’s personalities to that of an animal. Each animal demonstrates a different behavior of Lennie’s. The bear shows his curiosity, the rabbits show his innocence and immaturity, and the dog shows his unawareness.

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Animal Imagery In Of Mice And Men. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

Animal Imagery In Of Mice And Men
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