Of Mice and Men Literary Terms

Personification giving human traits (qualities, feelings, action, or characteristics) to non-living objects (things, colors, qualities, ideas)
Example of Personification “The shade climbed up the hills toward the top” (Steinbeck 2)
Juxtaposition the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side
Example of Juxtaposition At first, the Salinas River Valley seems Eden-like, but later when George tells Lennie to go there when he’s in trouble, it turns into a more ominous place
Symbolism something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something else
Example of Symbolism rabbits = Lennie’s na├»ve dreams of owning land during the Great Depression” ‘An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages…’ ” (Steinbeck 14)
Foreshadowing when the author provides hints of what may happen later in the story
Example of Foreshadowing the dead mouse in Lennie’s pocket at the beginning of the book foreshadows the death of the puppy and Curley’s Wife” ‘Uh-uh. Jus’ a dead mouse, George. I didn’t kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead.’ ” (Steinbeck 5)
Simile a comparison of generally unlike objects using “like” or “as”
Example of Simile “On the sand banks the rabbits sat as little gray, sculptured stones” (Steinbeck 2)
Metaphor a direct comparison of generally unlike objects NOT using “like” or “as”
Example of Metaphor “Lennie dabbled his big paw in the water” (Steinbeck 3)
Conflict a problem or unresolved issue in a story
Example of Conflict George’s life would be so much easier without Lennie, but knows Lennie would never make it on his own, so George sticks with him, and occasionally takes his anger out on Lennie
Climax a turning point in the story
Example of Climax When Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s Wife, and proves how dangerous he is
Resolution the solution to conflicts presented in the story
Example of Resolution George “resolves” this conflict by killing Lennie before Curley does
Alliteration a string of words beginning with the same consonant
Example of Alliteration “On the Sand banks the rabbits Sat as little gray, Sculptured Stones” (Steinbeck 2)
Imagery the use of figurative language to represent objects, actions, ideas
Example of Imagery “Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat a quietly as little sculptured, grey stones.” (Steinbeck 2)
Style a manner of expression: how a character or writer says what he/she says
Example of Style ” ‘Oh, sure, George. I remember that now.’ His hand went quickly into his side coat pockets. He said gently, ‘George… I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it.’ He looked down at the ground in despair.” (Steinbeck 5)
Tone the writer’s attitude toward the material and/or readers; tone may be playful, formal, intimate, angry, serious, ironic, outraged, baffled, tender, serene, depressed, etc.
Example of Tone “Lennie avoided the bait. He had sensed his advantage. ‘If you don’t want me, you only jus’ got to say so, and I’ll go off on those hills right there–right there in those hills and live by myself.’ ” (Steinbeck 13)
Motif a repeating theme, image or event
Example of Motif Lennie’s constant mention of rabbits:” ‘An’ have rabbits. Go on, George! Tell about what we’re gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages…’ ” (Steinbeck 14)
Mood the atmosphere that pervades a literary work with the intention of evoking a certain emotion or feeling from the readers
Example of Mood mood –> tense:”Curley lashed his body around. ‘By Christ, he’s [Lennie] gotta talk when he’s spoken to. What the hell are you gettin’ into it for?”We travel together,’said George coldly.’Oh, so it’s that way.’George was tense, and motionless. ‘Yeah, it’s that way.’Lennie was looking helplessly to George for instructions.” (Steinbeck 25)
Theme the moral or message of the story
Example of Theme Friendship: even though Lennie and George have conflicts, they remain friends
Protagonist a main character or “hero” of a story
Example of Protagonist George and Lennie” ‘Because I got you an’–‘An’ I got you. We got each other, that’s what that gives a hoot in hell about us,’ Lennie cried in triumph.” (Steinbeck 104)
Antagonist usually the character who opposes the protagontist
Example of Antagonist Curley”He [Curley] glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed into fists.” (Steinbeck 25)
Magic realism a narrative technique that blurs the distinction between fantasy and reality
Example of Magic realism “Aunt Clara was gone and from out of Lennie’s head there came a gigantic rabbit. It sat on its haunches in front of hime, and it waggled its ears and crinkled its nose at him. And it spoke in Lennie’s voice too.” (Steinbeck 101-102)

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