The purpose of this article is to explore the genre of “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. “Of Mice and Men” is a novella published in 1937 and has become a widely recognized literary classic.
In literature, a genre refers to a category of works defined by a set of distinct stylistic criteria. In this article, we will discuss the social realism genre and how it relates to “Of Mice and Men.”
We will also examine the presence of naturalism in the novel and how it highlights the desperation and isolation of migrant workers during the Great Depression.
“Of Mice and Men” belongs to the social realism genre, a literary movement that emerged in the United States in the early 20th century. Social realism emphasizes social issues and the struggles of working-class people, often in an urban or rural setting.
The genre grew in popularity during the Great Depression when writers began to explore the lives of the poor and disenfranchised. “Of Mice and Men” is a prime example of social realism as it portrays the harsh realities of migrant workers and the various societal issues they face.
Why is Of Mice and Men Considered a Tragedy?
Of Mice and Men is considered a tragedy because the novel depicts the downfall of the two main characters, George Milton and Lennie Small, who are unable to achieve their aspiration of owning a farm. The plot of the novel follows the classical definition of tragedy by Aristotle, which explains that tragic characters often have a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to their downfall.
In the case of Lennie, his tragic flaw is his lack of ability to control his own physical strength, which leads to him unintentionally killing Curley’s wife and in turn, sealing his fate. Meanwhile, George’s tragic flaw is his loyalty to Lennie, which leads him to make a decision that he knows will ultimately bring about tragic consequences.
The ending of the novel is tragic, as it sees George fulfilling his promise to Lennie to protect him from those who would harm him by killing him himself, ultimately leaving him alone and without his best friend on the run.
How Does John Steinbeck’s Background Influence the Genre of Of Mice and Men?
John Steinbeck’s background had a significant influence on the genre of Of Mice and Men. As a young man, he worked on farms and ranches, experiencing firsthand the harsh realities of the migrant worker lifestyle.
This personal experience heavily influenced the social realism genre, which seeks to portray the difficulties faced by working-class people.
Steinbeck’s earlier works, such as Cannery Row, also paved the way for Of Mice and Men’s realism. The novel’s social commentary was a reflection of Steinbeck’s personal values and beliefs, developed from his experiences with poverty and social inequality.
Furthermore, Steinbeck’s own struggles with mental health and depression likely influenced the portrayal of characters like Lennie, who is developmentally disabled and struggles with social interaction. The novel also explores themes of isolation and desperation, which were experiences that Steinbeck himself knew all too well.
Overall, Steinbeck’s background and personal experiences played a huge role in the development of the social realism genre present in Of Mice and Men.
The genre of a literary work is a crucial aspect to understanding its themes and storytelling techniques. Of Mice and Men belongs to the social realism and tragedy genres, as it portrays the harsh realities of life during the Great Depression and the struggles of characters who are marginalized in society due to their race or disability.
Knowing the genre of a literary work can help readers better comprehend the author’s message and appreciate the techniques used to convey it.
- Encyclopedia Britannica – John Steinbeck
- SparkNotes – Genre of Of Mice and Men
- CliffsNotes – Major Themes