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Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

Introduction

Just like any other novel this one utilizes three rhetorical schemes such as emotion, character, and logic. Yet upon closer examination the strongest is emotion or pathos. Steinbeck was able to do this indirectly. Without explaining what he is doing and without being explicit about his goals he was able to stir up the emotions of the readers. This is very obvious even in the first few pages of the novel. One can almost feel it coming wave after wave, bringing the readers to different heights of emotion – laughing one moment and feeling sad for both men the next. In the end Steinbeck was able to wrap it up with a climax and an ending that can bring many to tears or at least a moment of depression knowing that Lennie and George will never be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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The Setting

It would be impossible to arouse the emotions of the readers without using logic. So even if pathos is the most important rhetorical scheme used, the author could never develop a fine novel without logic. This was very much evident when he tried to establish the context of the story. It was in the countryside, in the world of ranchers, farmers, and ranch hands. The story was set far away from the city. In a time and place when many Americans were struggling to make ends meet and for people like Lennie and George there is no other option but to work like a slave, moving from one ranch to the other.

It would also be impossible to develop a fine novel such as this one, without investing on the characters. It was the development of the characters, from page to page that allowed the readers to sympathize to each one of them and to develop a deep sense of dislike for the others. In the early phase the readers were acquainted with the mental struggles of Lennie. He was big and strong but his mind was like that of a 3 year old child. George was intelligent, resourceful and a man with a sense of purpose but he is stuck with Lennie and he had to struggle with the idea of helping his friend or abandon him so that he can have a life of his own.

Emotions

The mere description of the setting, the working conditions in the ranch, and the kind of trouble that the workers had to go through every harvest season can easily arouse the emotions of the readers. The same thing happened when Steinbeck began to show what Lennie was like and what George was like. It is important to point out that Steinbeck made very little effort to describe what was going on between the characters; instead he focused on showing what they were doing. This is the reason why logic is not the main rhetorical scheme because readers were not told they were allowed to see instead (Benson, p. 48). The readers were invited to hear and see what was happening between Lennie and George.

Steinbeck need not use the word “retarded” or mentally weak to describe Lennie. Instead he showed what happened to Lennie when he discovered a shallow pool of water after walking for four miles on a hot dusty road. Lennie, with his mule-like strength and tall frame knelt near the pool and dunked his head into it. He did not even remove his hat, drinking copiously from the body of water. Steinbeck did not use words like “authoritative” and “guardian” to describe George but in the said scene George castigated Lennie like a child for drinking a lot of water and not even considering if it is potable or not.

The emotional response to the story came wave after wave. There are times when the reader would laugh at the way George shows his disgust for Lennie’s mental deficiencies. At other times the reader would feel sad that George had to work and travel with a big emotional burden. In his frustration George said, “God, you’re a lot of trouble” (Steinbeck, p. 8). In that one short sentence Steinbeck was able to show all the pent-up emotions. But the reader could not afford to be angry at Lennie, he is big and strong but he is harmless. This was contrasted with the other characters in the story. For instance Curly was small and yet he was mean and he was dangerous.

One of the most touching parts was when Lennie begged George to tell a story about their future hopes and dreams. It was a beautiful exchange between the two men. George sharing his heart’s desire while at the same time inspiring them both to continue working even if there seems to be no end to their struggles. This was made more poignant when Lennie would butt in and finish every sentence that George would utter. This means that Lennie knew the story by heart. One could almost feel his longing to be free and to finally have a place that they can call their own.

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Conclusion

The rest of the story was an emotional roller-coaster ride. The characters and the setting were just the backdrops but the main purpose of the story was to arouse the emotions of the readers. In the latter part of the story the readers were gripped with the feeling of sadness and foreboding, knowing that Lennie will not live long enough to see his dream come true. George confronted Lennie for looking at Curly’s wife. Lennie began to realize that he was doomed to fail and he cried out, “I don’t like this place, George. This ain’t no good place. I wanna get out of here” (Steinbeck, p. 32). At the end of the story George was forced to kill Lennie. The emotions of the readers fully engaged at this point and there was nothing but sadness.

Works Cited

Benson, Jackson. The Short Novels of John Steinbeck. Duke University Press, 1990.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin, 1994.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 27). Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-scheme-in-of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 27). Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-scheme-in-of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/

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"Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck." StudyCorgi, 27 Oct. 2021, studycorgi.com/rhetorical-scheme-in-of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck." October 27, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-scheme-in-of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/.


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StudyCorgi. "Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck." October 27, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-scheme-in-of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck." October 27, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/rhetorical-scheme-in-of-mice-and-men-by-john-steinbeck/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Rhetorical Scheme in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck'. 27 October.

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