When writers decide to write a story, many themes may come to mind. In John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, many themes are present. The theme that most appeals to me would be Survival of the Fittest.
Two characters that support this idea are Candy's dog and Lennie. Candy's dog represents the fate awaiting anyone who has outlived his or her purpose. Once a fine sheep dog and extremely useful on the ranch, Candy's mutt is now debilitated by age. Despite Candy's plea to Carlson to let his dog live for no other reason than Candy's sentimental attachment to the animal, Carlson's insistence that the old animal must die supports a cruel, natural law that the strong will dispose of the weak. Lennie also supports this idea. Lennie is completely defenseless. His innocence raises him up to a standard of pure goodness, but his ignorance as to his own strength and actions makes him weak and needy in the eyes of others. Ultimately, the fact that Lennie is so dependent on George makes him easily dispensable when proven to be a limitation for George. Without George, Lennie could not function by himself, and in turn, could not survive. Although, one is an animal and the other a human, both support the theory in this novel of Survival of the Fittest.
One literary element that maintains to this theme is Candy's dog being a symbol for Lennie. When you look a the characteristics of Candy's dog, they highly support this suggestion. Candy's dog was once an excellent sheep dog, but now has become a burden on everyone on the ranch. Due to his age, he has become dispensable and therefore, must be disposed of. After Candy lets another man put his dog out of its misery, he admits to George that, "I ought to have shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog." This directly translates to George and Lennie, signifying that if anyone ever has to shoot Lennie; George must be the one to do it. Lennie is similar to Candy's dog in many ways. Lennie is strong and extremely useful on the farm, but as time passes, he turns out to be a liability. Another literary element presented is foreshadowing. When Candy's dog is shot, that foreshadows the shooting of Lennie by George. Another example is Curly's wife. The men on the ranch often refer to her as a rat trap and Lennie's love for mice leads to the accidental killing of Curly's wife for Lennie kills all the mice he has ever owned. These elements highly support the theme of Survival of the Fittest.
Survival of the Fittest is only one of the many themes in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. But it's also one of the most significant and powerful in the entire novel. Many themes may go through a writer's mind when he or she decides to write a story. John Steinbeck chose Survival of the Fittest.