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"Mice and Men" - How Does Steinbeck Create Mood and Atmosphere in the 'Shooting of Candy's Dog' Scene?

  • Date Submitted: 10/27/2015 12:38 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 65.9 
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Steinbeck uses various techniques to create tension in the ‘Shooting of Candy’s Dog’ scene. These techniques create suspense between the characters and between the reader and the scene. Steinbeck’s main intent is to create tension in this scene and have the readers on the edge of their seat. This scene comes in the middle of the book just after Lennie gets his pup from Slim.

This scene is foreshadowed at the start of this chapter when Carlson wants to shoot the dog because he is “all stiff with rheumatism”. Carlson fails at this point but we realize that the dog will die soon. The death of the dog is also foreshadowed when Lennie gets his new pup. This makes us realize that the older dog will be ‘traded’ for the younger pup. There is also contrast in the dog’s owners. Candy is old and about to lose his dog whereas Lennie is young and has just received a new pup. The audience are manipulated to think that the worse will happen and from that point tension is built as we wait for the inevitable.

Steinbeck uses Silence to great effect in this scene along with the feeling of foreboding.

The first technique used by Steinbeck is that of the use of Adverbs. Once Carlson has taken out Candy’s dog to shoot him, there is a very subdued and tense atmosphere. Candy is feeling very upset about the fact that his dog has been taken away to be shot which is the reason that he lay ’rigidly’; George is being careful of Candy’s feelings and shuts the door 'gently’. When Slim talks ‘loudly’, it is to fill the silence that is created as the men wait for the inevitable shot but because the silence is so strong, a tense atmosphere is created that keeps the characters silent until the shot and therefore increasing the silence even more.

Steinbeck uses repetition puts emphasis on the mood, making the silence into an almost
physical presence, an extra person in the room, because its presence is so tangible. He does this firstly through the many repetitions of the words ‘silent’...

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