Of Mice and Men

by: John Steinbeck

Style

Main ideas Style

Of Mice and Men’s style is objective and factual, reflecting Steinbeck’s intention that the story could either be read as a novella or performed as a play. The descriptive passages are as concrete as stage directions: “The bunkhouse was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted.” Like a play, Of Mice and Men features no passages of writing that tell us directly what characters are thinking and feeling. Instead, characters’ thoughts and feelings are conveyed through descriptions of their mannerisms and facial expressions, and through dialogue. The narrator neither condones nor condemns the actions of the characters. For example, when George fatally shoots Lennie at the end, the narrator simply states “He pulled the trigger.” By excluding opinionated commentary on the events of the novella, Steinbeck allows readers to judge for themselves who is really to blame for the tragic conclusion.

Of Mice and Men is structured around dialogue written in the slang of migrant laborers during the Great Depression. George and Lennie embody the American struggle Steinbeck encountered among ranch workers in California, and their conversations mirror the uneducated language Steinbeck actually heard. Lennie mentions living “off the fatta the lan’” after George describes how they are “gonna get the jack together” and build their own homestead one day. Along with the slang used by Candy, Crooks, and the other ranch-hands, this colloquial language situates George and Lennie’s experience in a real Depression-era scenario: poor, uneducated workers talking about and dreaming of a better life.