Foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men: Examples & Quotes

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  • 0:00 Introduction to 'Of…
  • 0:49 What Is Foreshadowing?
  • 1:14 The Title 'Of Mice and Men'
  • 1:39 Foreshadowing Lennie's Death
  • 2:28 Foreshadowing the Girl's Death
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Noorda
This lesson discusses foreshadowing in 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck. You'll learn how Lennie's death, Lennie hurting a girl by accident, and the tragic ending of the story are all foreshadowed in the book.

Introduction to Of Mice and Men

Published in 1937, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, is the story of George and Lennie, two friends who work together in fields in California. Even though they work on other people's lands, they both hope to someday have land of their own. They keep moving to different jobs because Lennie, who has some mental impairments, accidentally hurts people physically because he misjudges his own strength. George and Lennie had to leave their last place of work because Lennie stroked a woman's dress and wouldn't let go. Lennie later meets another woman who tells him that he can stroke her hair. But when he's stronger than she thought, she screams and Lennie accidentally breaks her neck. George and Lennie run away from a mob seeking revenge for the murdered woman, and George eventually shoots Lennie in the head.

What Is Foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing is hinting at a future event as a warning. Writers use foreshadowing to create suspense. Hinting at and warning readers about what might happen later in the story builds tension and anticipation. Foreshadowing is used in Of Mice and Men for these same reasons: to create suspense and build tension and anticipation. Let's take a look at some specific passages in the book where foreshadowing takes place.

The Title Of Mice and Men

The title Of Mice and Men is based on the Robert Burns poem, 'To a Mouse'. The poem, written in Burns' native Scots, reads:

'The best laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley'

These lines mean:

'The best laid schemes of mice and men

Often go awry'

The title foreshadows that something in the story is going to go awry, despite George's best laid plans.

Foreshadowing Lennie's Death

Steinbeck also foreshadows Lennie's death at the hands of his friend. George says, 'I want you to stay with me, Lennie. Jesus Christ, somebody'd shoot you for a coyote if you was by yourself. No, you stay with me.'

These lines foreshadow that Lennie will eventually get shot. Even though George doesn't say that he would shoot Lennie, it eventually comes to that, and this quote is one hint that it will happen.

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