How John Steinbeck Used Foreshadowing

Category: Literature
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Foreshadowing can be a signal or indication of something that will happen in the future. Typically used as a literary device in which an author gives a clue of what is to happen later in the story. Throughout the novel, Of Mice and Men, the author, John Steinbeck, uses foreshadowing in numerous ways. It helped us predict unfortunate events that were yet to come. He used foreshadowing by using an allusion, using Lennie as a victim of repeatedly doing the same actions, having other characters doubt George and Lennie’s dream, and death.

Document A, informs us of where John Steinbeck got his title. He used an allusion from the poem, To a Mouse, which helped us figure out a little of what to expect from the novel. In the poem, the mouse’s plans didn’t continue as expected. It had a home ready for the winter but was destroyed by a farmer plowing his field and without a home, this shows that the mouse will not be able to withstand winter. As said in the poem, “The best laid schemes of mice and men, Go often askew, And leaves us with nothing but grief and pain,” gave us an indication of what would happen in the novel.

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Document B also offered us another understanding of John Steinbeck using foreshadowing with repetition. Lennie doesn’t understand his own strength and has hurt other lives as well. He’s killed animals simply by holding them in his hands. Lennie has had a history of touching something he’s not supposed to and not letting go when he panics. In addition to hurting animals, he also hurt humans. He frightened a girl in Weed when he clung onto her dress as he panicked. He also killed Curley’s wife by accidentally snapping her neck when he was shaking her to be quiet. As a result of not knowing his full strength, Lennie was constantly making mistakes that soon became far too much for George.

Document C shows us excerpts of examples of how John Steinbeck also used doubt to foreshadow. Crooks, the stable buck, highly doubted Lennie and George’s goal. Crooks has seen many men go in with the same goal and none of them achieve it. This shows that Crooks believes they’re no different than other men and won’t get their land. Crooks wasn’t the only one to doubt their dream but George did also. Once as George was telling Lennie of the farm, he abruptly stopped himself. I believe he possibly stopped himself from saying any more because not only was he getting Lennie’s hopes up but his as well. Although he was always very hopeful, he was doubtful too.

Document D provides us with evidence of how John Steinbeck used death to foreshadow Lennie’s death. Carlson killing Candy’s dog was an indication of foreshadowing that George will kill Lennie. Candy was convinced that taking it out of its’ misery would be best than letting it suffer any longer. I believe George felt as if it was his place to take Lennie out of his misery and not let the men catch up to him to punish him for killing Curley’s wife.

George felt the same pain as Candy did when Carlson killed his dog. Candy had told George that he should’ve killed the dog himself which leads me to suppose that that is the reason as to why he had to do it himself because he clearly cared about Lennie too much. George understood Candy’s pain and knew why Candy said what he said. John Steinbeck gave us a clue of how George killed Lennie when Carlson explained how he would kill Candy’s dog.

There was many more ways of how John Steinbeck used foreshadowing. He repeatedly gave us suggestions of what was to come that we might have not caught. At the end of the story, we understood the characters feelings due to foreshadowing. We had some knowledge of how George felt about killing Lennie and why he did it. Although there could be more than one theme to the novel, I believe letting go of the things you love the most is one of the main themes of the story.

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How John Steinbeck Used Foreshadowing. (2019, May 27). Retrieved from