Monday, 11 April 2011
LOOKING AT OF MICE AND MEN AND BACKSTORY
These blogs are for discussion. So please comment. I'm just doing this one to start things off. What follows summarises my comments on this passage done today.
It's a useful excercise to see how Steinbeck sets up a situation in which it's natural for George to fill in the backstory because Lennie is forgetful or confused. This allows him to both develop the relationship between the two, especially Lennie's forgetfulness, but also what's happened and George's slight assumed irritation with him for his forgetfulness. It seems like a very simple device. It is. But it's beautfully done, a sort of master lesson in how to handle this bit of a narrative in whatever genre.
Lennie looked timidly over to him. "George?"
"Yea, what ya want?"
"Where we goin', George?"
Here we get both the power relations between them - or at least the surface power relationship with George as the 'boss', but also the opening for George to get irriated and give us the backstory, which Lennie has forgotten
The little man jerked down the brim of his bat and scowled over at Lenni. "So you forgot that awready, did you? Gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you're a crazy bastard!
We then have George remembering something, the rabbits, which enables Steinbeck to introduce that childishness in him, a key theme (as is the 'Where we goin'? one, but still have George eventually tell Lennie, and us, where in fact they are going, this time by jogging Lennie's memory.
"You remember about us goin' into Murray and Ready's, and they give us work cards and bus tickets?"
And the mention of the tickets makes Lennie go into his pockets, having not recalled well enough to remember he didn't have the tickets, but his pockets allow Steinbeck to move easily into the rabbit-like theme of the dead mouse there.
Wonderfully 'easily' done, but not easy at all, of course