Foreshadowing is defined as a literary device that serves as a warning or indication of future events in the storyline. With the shooting of Candy’s dog leading up to Lennie’s death and Lennie’s history of killing animals hinting at the murder of Curley’s wife among other examples, it is clear that there are many examples of foreshadowing in John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men.
One of the major examples of foreshadowing in the book is when Carlson shot Candy’s old dog. This foreshadows the final chapter of the book, when Lennie is shot and killed by George. Carlson believed that the old dog was suffering, as he was now having trouble moving around and was likely in a lot of pain. “Carlson said, “The way I’d shoot him, he wouldn’t feel nothing. I’d put the gun right there.” He pointed with his toe. “Right back of the head. He wouldn’t even quiver.”” This is very similar to how Lennie’s death is described. ”And George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the muzzle of it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again. Lennie jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay without quivering.” Lennie is found to be unable to live peacefully amongst others because of his intellectual disability, and George was unfortunately forced to end his life.
Another example of foreshadowing is how Lennie often was too rough with animals. “Why do you got to get killed? You ain’t so little as mice,” Lennie said, referring to the puppy he had accidentally killed. This hints at the death of Curley’s wife. Lennie treats her just how he had treated the mice and the puppy. “And she continued to struggle, and her eyes were wild with terror. He shook her then, and he was angry with her. “Don’t you go yellin’,” he said, and he shook her; and her body flopped like a fish. And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.” Lennie was so big that he often didn’t know his own strength, and his lack of intellect made his strength dangerous. That is made clear with this act of violence.
George often explained to Lennie how life would be once they got their own place. “O.K. Someday — we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and–” George explained to Lennie before Lennie finished the story for him. This is a constant theme throughout the book. Lennie relies on these stories to feel safe and they comfort him in times of need. This foreshadows Lennie being distracted with this story before his death.
It is evident from these examples that foreshadowing is a very frequently used literary device in Of Mice and Men. Without these hints throughout the book, the story would not be near as interesting and in-depth. Foreshadowing is just one of many ways John Steinbeck makes his novel a great read and ultimately a classic.