The Effects of Foreshadowing on the Reader of John Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men

Last Updated: 14 Nov 2022
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A tool authors use to hint of events happening later in the novel or story is foreshadowing. Through foreshadowing, an author may surprise or impact the reader. In John Steinbeck's tragic fiction novel, Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck uses foreshadowing to make readers anticipate the ending of the novel in which Lennie kills Curley's wife, and ultimately gets shot by George. Foreshadowing is shown in many key events throughout the chapters, and it isn't until later that the reader will realize the importance of the seemingly unimportant events. The readers wonder what the purpose of those events are and how they will feel when the purpose of the events come clear.

Foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men impacts readers with intense emotions and makes readers understand the purpose of the foreshadowing. George and Lennie are the two main characters of the novel, and have escaped from trouble that occurred while they were employed in Weed. According to George, Lennie ruined their opportunities in Weed because "he seen this girl in a red dress. Dumb bastard like he is, he wants to touch ever'thing he likes. Just wants to feel it. So he reaches out to feel this red dress an' the girl lets out a squawk, and that gets Lennie all mixed up, and he holds on 'cause that's the only thing he can think to do.

Well, this girl squawks and squawks.” (Steinbeck 41). This shows how Lennie likes to touch soft things, and how Lennie can't let go of something when he's frightened. These two traits of Lennie foreshadows how Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife. The reader would feel bad for Lennie from reading about the Weed incident because he was misunderstood. The reader would feel like this would not be a big problem since it was in the past, and that this might be a one-time problem. However, the purpose of what happened in Weed was to warn the readers that this is a potentially bad habit of George, and that it will happen again.

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Once George and Lennie find a job on a new ranch in the south of Soledad, they meet new people. Slim is the wise, old mule-driver on the ranch and is highly respected. A little before the arrival of George and Lennie, Slim's dog gave birth to nine puppies. Slim "drowned four of 'em right off." and he “kept the biggest". (Steinbeck, 35). Foreshadowing is used in this scene because the biggest puppies are kept while the weak and small puppies were killed. Lennie can be seen as a small puppy because he is not normal. Lennie evidently suffers from a mental disability that caused trouble for George, and eventually Lennie's demise.

The small puppies that were drowned can be viewed as Lennie while the big puppies can be viewed as George, Slim, Candy, Carlson and Curley. The purpose of the drowning of the weak puppies was to show that the weak or disabled cannot survive, and that the strong will prosper. Readers will feel bad for the drowned puppies, and will also feel bad for Lennie in the resolution of the novel. Carlson is another worker on the ranch alongside Candy who is another ranch-hand that is approaching old age. Candy owns a dog who, according to Carlson, "is so God damn old he can't hardly walk. Stinks like hell, too." (Steinbeck, 36). Soon enough, Carlson insists that "[the dog stinks to beat hell. Tell you what.

I'll shoot him for you” (Steinbeck, 45). Carlson shooting Candy's dog foreshadows George shooting Lennie. Carlson uses a type of gun called a “Luger", and coincidentally George takes that gun to kill Lennie. Another use of foreshadowing is that Carlson unintentionally teaches George how to shoot Lennie painlessly. Carlson explains that “The way I'd shoot him, he wouldn't feel nothing. I'd put thegun right there.” He pointed with his toe. “Right back of the head. He wouldn't even quiver.” (Steinbeck 45). The purpose of Carlson shooting Candy's dog is to foreshadow the death of Lennie. Readers will feel bad for Candy and his dog, but then have a moment of surprise and shock when understanding that Lennie was killed exactly like Candy's dog.

Foreshadowing fortells and implies of events happening later in the novel. The purpose of foreshadowing is to create suspense and apprehension because it makes the readers guess or predict coming events. Readers may wonder the purpose of the events and foreshadowing. Also, foreshadowing may impact a reader emotionally. How readers feel during or after reading a book is what makes them enjoy a book. People should care about foreshadowing because it is part of what makes reading enjoyable, and what makes readers read for pleasure.

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The Effects of Foreshadowing on the Reader of John Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men. (2022, Nov 14). Retrieved from

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