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

The Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Essay grade:
arrow downward Read Review
downloadDownload printPrint

Eudora Welty once said “Every story would be another story, and unrecognisable, if it took up its characters and plot happened somewhere else…fiction depends for its life on place”. This applies especially to John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice And Men’ (OMAM); set in California during the Great Depression, place is a prominent feature throughout and its presentation is used to trace the main characters’ development and highlight progression of themes throughout the book. Steinbeck utilises various aspects of language, grammar and form in order to effect his intended destination and we see a combination of these devices even from the outset.

Are you Looking For A Custom Essay about “The Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck” NOW? You Found It!

Professional Writers that Guarantee an On-time Delivery


experts online

In the opening chapter of “Of Mice and Men”, the novel offers an idyllic scene describing the local area: “A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.” Steinbeck wrote his opening scene with many descriptive words and the use of vivid colour words to enhance the scene’s natural beauty. “Soledad” is mentioned in the first sentence of the chapter, and being Spanish for ‘lonely’ or ‘solitude’ it not only foreshadows the key theme of isolation throughout the novel, but also adds a melancholy note to the initial location. Sibilance is used here from ‘A few miles south of Soledad’ to ‘The Salinas River’ adding to the brush’s peaceful atmosphere. Steinbeck presents this place as a rural area, a green hillside bank. Green being the colour of nature enhances the scene’s natural beauty while also giving off connotations of growth and harmony. It also gives an emotional correspondence to safety which is understandable due to its rurality and this, structurally, ties in with why George tells Lennie to return to the brush if he gets into trouble. Pathetic fallacy is used in the phrase “The water is warm too” creating a positive, harmonious atmosphere. The colour yellow and the word ‘twinkling’ in this quotation give off connotations of happiness and positivity; this may suggest to the reader that the brush is safe. Nothing man-made is mentioned in the first page and we are presented with a place filled with imagery. The idyllic atmosphere allows us to understand why George insists on staying the night in this place. For him, it represents the American Dream, his hope to own such a place in the future.

Steinbeck comments upon the opening scene so that when we reach the end of the novel, we can see the novel is cyclical. Nature is described excessively in the first paragraph of the first chapter and the first paragraph of the last chapter and although both are describing the same place, we can see the contrast between the two paragraphs as it shows how George and Lennie’s relationship has progressed through the story and where it is heading. Steinbeck specifically mentions the ‘Salinas River’ and the ‘Gabilan Mountains’ in the two chapters, to take this into account. In the opening, we note that the first page is in present tense, ‘drops … runs’ etc, reminding us that this is a real location that it will prevail even when the tales of the men who visit it have run their course and are ended. It relates to the theme of broken dreams but also another example of why the novel is cyclical; the mention of these places in the first chapter and then Steinbeck mentioning them again in the last chapter is foreshadowing that the continuous cycle that George and Lennie would go through is inevitable. Whilst this signals the tragic form and outcome, it also reveals the harsh world and lack of hope present in the lives of the migrant workers.

A major location in ‘Of Mice And Men’ is the accommodation where the ranch workers stay, including the two protagonists George and Lennie. In the opening sentence of Section Two Steinbeck describes the bunkhouse as “…a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted” and instantly we can see that the description of the bunkhouse is incredibly simplistic, by telling us that the walls were whitewashed, the floor unpainted, the building having no effort to make the interior look anything more than basic shows us that it lacks character relating to life on the ranch, plain, simple and potentially boring. Adjectives such as ‘long’ and ‘rectangular’ lack ostentation, whilst ‘whitewash’ is the usual finish for utilitarian, machine outbuildings or animal shelters. The lexis essentially connotes functionality; there is no sense of home or comfort yet this is where migrant workers must live for the majority of their lives. The bunkhouse is symbolic of how the ranch workers are treated like tools, in an utilising sense. Steinbeck highlights the contrast between the ranch/bunkhouse in the second chapter with the freedom of nature in the first. Their lives are a virtual prison, their ‘home’ presented as such, lacking in any sense of family or home.

Another important location in ‘Of Mice And Men’ is Crooks’ room, first mentioned at the beginning of Chapter Four. The description of Crooks’ room and belongings greatly illuminates the injustice and equality faced at this time. “…the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn.” This instantly points out a major injustice towards Crooks. Crooks being the only black male on the ranch signals him to be treated as an outcast. Crooks’ bunk is squashed into a ‘little shed’, the adjective ‘little’ emphasises that it is significantly smaller than expected and the ‘little shed’ being the harness room means that Crooks stays with the equipment. Steinbeck also mentions that the harness room leans off the barn showing that even the horses and other animals that stay in the barn are treated with more importance than Crooks, leaning connoting the state of the building as an afterthought. Crooks’ bunk is described as “a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung” and in this presentation Steinbeck continues to highlight the social discrimination. The ‘long box’ suggests again that he is seen as not equal to man, a ‘box’ often a disposable container, intended to store objects. Straw is also used for animals, showing that he essentially sleeps in a manger, not on a mattress. The verb ‘flung’ could possibly suggest Crooks’ sense of hopelessness or ultimately his anger and frustration over the bigotry he is constantly faced with throughout his life on the ranch.

Get a Personal "The Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck" Tailored Essay For You in 3 Hours!

100% Customized to Your Need with Expert Writers


To conclude, referring back to Eudora Welty saying “…fiction depends for its life on place” we can clearly see that place and setting throughout ‘Of Mice And Men’ is a fundamental feature to the novel and the story would be ‘unrecognisable’ without these significant places. Steinbeck’s use of these places set an atmosphere and tone, while also reinforcing key messages such as the books major themes; broken dreams etc. All the settings show the poverty of the workers and the social marginalisation that they face. This is emphasised by the fulsome language used by Steinbeck to describe the fertility and abundance of the natural world that surrounds them, a point that drives home the tragedy of the book is that the ranch workers never benefit from the possibilities that the world has to offer them.

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 Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Essay
This Essay is Graded More About Grading
Essay grade:
review Expert Review
minus plus
The essay focuses on the importance of place in John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice And Men.’ It discusses how Steinbeck uses descriptive words, vivid colour words, and various aspects of language, grammar and form to effect his intended destination. The writer argues that Steinbeck’s presentation of place is used to trace the main characters’ development and highlight the progression of themes throughout the book. Overall, the essay is well-organized, and the writer shows a clear understanding of the novel's themes. The writer uses strong sentence structures and a confident voice throughout the essay.
More About Grading

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 Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. (2018, September 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from
“The Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.” GradesFixer, 04 Sept. 2018,
The Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Jun. 2023].
The Importance of Place and Destination in of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Sept 04 [cited 2023 Jun 4]. 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!


    Get Your Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!


    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