This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

The Role of The Setting in of Mice and Men

downloadDownload printPrint

The first two settings that Steinbeck exposes to his readers in Of Mice and Men are the countryside and the bunkhouse at the ranch. Both of these are quite crucial to the development of the characters, as well as the progress and proper story-telling in the novel. Steinbeck starts his novella in the countryside, which is described as a very peaceful and calm place, with a few leaves rustling in the air; before the quiet is broken by the two main characters. As the protagonists George and Lennie make their way from the path to the clearing by the river bank, the purpose of the setting becomes evident to the reader. Later, however, the presence of the bunkhouse strategically shifts the entire narrative to a very different set of themes.

The clearing is a place full of life; there is an abundance of green plants, and the presence of animals and insects is also felt. The warm and clean water provides George and Lennie with the soothing bounty of nature; just as the riverbank, with its overshadowing branches and calm atmosphere, provides the two with relief and protection from the relentless sun they endured throughout their long walk. Just as the riverbank gives them literal protection in their journey, it also gives them a metaphorical form of sanctuary. George feels that this place is safe, and lets down his guard. His ominous advice to Lennie to return to the riverbank in case of danger, shows that this small clearing is not just a safe haven for the men, but indeed the only one they have known.

Steinbeck uses the countryside as a tool to tell his story – this is the place where George and Lennie talk about their dreams. After an exhausting day, George is perhaps lulled into a sense of security by the serenity of the surrounding place, and so starts talking about the dream that they have, and which they hope will someday come true. George’s talk of rabbits and farms, and Lennie’s reactions to his words are both key aspects of the book; as they signify man’s dreams and his yearning for things which may seem impossible; and the setting used by Steinbeck is instrumental to the development of these themes. But Steinbeck’s description also has undertones which could be seen as warning signals. The path that George and Lennie follow to the clearing is a worn out one, as is the tree trunk; both of which have been used a countless number of times before George and Lennie. Perhaps Steinbeck meant this to show that what George and Lennie consider unique to themselves – their dream and their sanctuary – are both things which other people have gone through as well. This could signify that George and Lennie might have the same disappointing fate as the “boys and tramps” who have been on the same path, with similar dreams of a paradise on Earth. This setting is also of great importance due to the climax of the novel taking place here. Being the birth place of the hopes and dreams of George and Lennie, it is only fitting that the riverbank is also the place where George has to take the life of Lennie in the end, symbolizing the death of all the dreams and hopes that the protagonists once had.

Steinbeck starts the second chapter of his novella with a description of another setting – the bunkhouse. This is the place where the ranch workers live and spend their time when they are not out working. From the very first descriptive line of the chapter, the “long rectangular” bunkhouse is shown as a very mundane and featureless place. The entire description of the bunkhouse is rather like a prison – devoid of character – and the layout of the place gives the reader a glimpse of the lifestyle of the ranch workers. The similar eight bunk beds that line the wall, the unpainted floor, and the white-washed walls all give a very monotonous image. Perhaps Steinbeck also meant this to mirror the monotonous and unappealing life that the ranch workers lead. The “apple boxes” that are “nailed’ near the bunks and which are full of various things also give testimony to the lifestyle of the men who live there: The fact that they are just nailed on gives an impression of a carelessly done job; whereas the odd things that are crammed into them show that the men have made a futile attempt to personalize their box – there are personal belongings such as combs, medicine, and even magazines, which are shown as a form of escapism for the ranch men, emphasizing the burden of their lives.

The three small windows, which only give faint beams of sunlight which illuminate dust particles all around are also symbolic of the life in the bunkhouse. The rays of sun could be a metaphor for the brief and faint hopes and dreams that the men have, but even that faint hope is being tainted by the atmosphere of the bunkhouse, much like the beauty of the sunlight being marred by the dust which is everywhere. The bunkhouse, on the whole is shown as an area for men only; it is a place where the ranch workers live and sleep, and entertain themselves. Curley’s wife, for example, is shown to not be welcome in the bunkhouse; neither is Crooks. Both of these people do not come into the category of able-bodied men that the ranch hands embody, and so are not allowed inside.

A comparison of these two main settings yields quite an impressing insight into the amount of work done by Steinbeck to make sure that each setting plays its designated role to move the plot forward the bunkhouse, though it should be the place where the men can rest after a long day’s hard work, is instead the site of growing mistrust, arguments, fights, and negative emotions. Comparing this man-made “shelter” with our first setting, the small clearing near the riverbank, shows what message Steinbeck was trying to prove – there can be no peace where there is man; only nature provides try sanctuary. The dreams that the countryside gave reality to were shattered to pieces due to the interference of man.

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

Get custom essay

121 writers online

The Role of The Setting in of Mice and Men Essay
score This essay is graded. Score 16/20
Essay Score 16/20
Sentence Structure
Evidence and Details
More about grading
The writer’s expression and ability to express a clear thesis statement are commendable but there are a few improvements that can be made to the essay. There is a lack of a hook sentence at the start of the essay. The first paragraph should begin with a hook sentence which ... generally alludes to the thesis statement. The writer has adequately introduced the text to provide context to the thesis statement but this can only occur after the hook sentence has been constructed. The essay also requires a concise and informative statement and the writer needs to elaborate on what these new themes are since the current thesis statement is not descriptive. The evidence presented is extensive and supports the arguments presented in the thesis statement well but the writer needs to add more examples to score an even higher mark. Word choice is appropriate and the writer's expression is clear. There are also no major problems in sentence construction. However, the organisation of the essay is very effective since the writer has used subheadings for the body paragraphs where each paragraph elaborates on a separate point.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

The Role of the Setting in Of Mice and Men. (2018, May 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
“The Role of the Setting in Of Mice and Men.” GradesFixer, 08 May 2018,
The Role of the Setting in Of Mice and Men. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Mar. 2023].
The Role of the Setting in Of Mice and Men [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 08 [cited 2023 Mar 23]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Don't use plagiarized sources. Get your custom essay. Get custom paper

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now