09 February 2014

The First Formal Essay I Have Ever Written

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English class is a must-take class in United States high school. Before I moved to San Diego, I had speech class in Ipswich, and I have "English 1" class now. Both classes require students to write essay or article, I just finished writing a formal essay in "English 1" class recently, and I would like to share with you.

It's a four-pages essay!

Although I am a sophomore student, I still take English 1 which is a freshman class, because my English skill is not good enough. English 1 is basically a reading class, teacher teaches students how to read efficiently and properly, and after reading each short story or novel, we would have to do some projects. Recently, we are working on reading a classic novel - Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, it tells the story of George and Lennie, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in California. After reading the book and taking lots of notes, we have to write an essay as a final project. Our teacher, Mrs. Thompson, gives us some introductions and advices of writing this essay and we have to work by ourself. I spent at least 3 nights, 12 hours, writing, editing, writing, editing, and more writing just to finish this essay. Okay, here is my very final version of essay, please take a look (You can either click here to read it on my Google Docs or just read it here, there are some other documents on my Google Docs, including rough drafts).

The Truly Good Friends and Their Dream

    From the late 1930s to mid 1940s, most of the countries in the world were under Great Depression, including the United States. During the Great Depression, migrant laborers were often traveling from place to place, from ranch to ranch, just to find a job. They wanted to find a stable job to get enough money so they could have a better lives. The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is precisely talking about two migrant laborers, Lennie and George's life in the ranch. Lennie and George are really good friends, George is uneducated and Lennie has limited mental abilities. Although they both have their own problems, they still stick by each other's side no matter what happens. Lennie's dream is to tend the soft rabbits in their own farm, however, both Lennie and George are working hard and looking forward to seeing their dream to come true. Unfortunately, at the end of the story, George kills Lennie because of love and their love and friendship. John Steinbeck uses characterization and symbolism throughout the whole story to show how two truly good friends pursue and achieve their dream.

    Characterization is very important in the story because it proves the friendship and obstacles. In the very first part of the book, chapter 1, Steinbeck wants readers to know about the main characters. He introduces Lennie and George to us. "They had walked in single file down the path, and even in the open one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders." (1.4) One man is walking behind another, they might not be equal. Steinbeck might want to tell us that inequality is not always a part of true friendship. Real friends will not care about how rich, how famous, how pretty the other one is, real friendship should be more like a family. On the other hand, since they are dressing plain and simple, they may not have enough money to buy extra goods. As Lennie and George are truly good friends, again in chapter 1, Steinbeck shows how important they are to each other. "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family, and they do not belong no place. They come to a ranch and work up a stake and then they go inta town and blow their stake, and the first thing you know they're pounding their tail on some other ranch. They ain't got nothing to look ahead to." (1.113) It was very hard out there for a ranch hand. Steinbeck was telling us that loneliness is even worse than the poverty, we can bear a lot more if we have a friend, just like Lennie and George. Steinbeck uses characterization cleverly, not only on Lennie and George, but on other characters like Crooks. In chapter 4, Crooks says "’Come on in and set a while,’...’Long as you won't get out and leave me alone, you might as well set down.’ His tone was a little more friendly". (4.22) Crooks, the lonely black person has been friendless for so long that ha can not even talk to someone. It is very sad since he is isolated from other people only because his color of skin is black. He didn't even do anything wrong!

    Steinbeck uses symbolism to represent the symbol of the American dream that many of the characters have. One of the most important symbols in this book is the rabbit, all of Lennie's future is wrapped up in rabbits. "I remember about the rabbits, George." "The hell with the rabbits. That's all you can ever remember is them rabbits." (1.18-19) It is very nice to have a concrete goal. The rabbits, which represents Lennie's American dream, are mentioned throughout the whole story. Lennie's dream is very simple, he wants to have rabbits to look after in his and George's own farm, the farm without constantly have to work for someone and not having money to save. Unfortunately, earlier in this chapter, Steinbeck already faint mention the impossibility of the American dream. Lennie says: "Let's have different color rabbits, George." "Sure we will," George replied sleepily. "Red and blue and green rabbits, Lennie. Millions of 'em." (1.10) How is it possible that rabbits have different colors? Because of this, we can tell that Steinbeck is trying to tell us, Lennie and George's dream is not a reality. It is difficult for the dream to come true in that time period. At the nightime in the ranch, just before Lennie and George are going to sleep, they have a small conversation. Lennie again mention his dream about rabbits to bring reader's attention. "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 said. "An' have rabbits." Lennie replied. "Go on, George! Tell about what we're gonna have in the garden and about the rabbits in the cages and about the rain in the winter and the stove, and how thick the cream is on the milk like you can hardly cut it. Tell about that George." (1.119-123) Lennie reminds George that he forgot to tell the parts about the rabbits. When we encounter the dream about their future this way, we can already recognize that it is never going to be a reality.

    In the story, Steinbeck uses characterization and symbolism to tell us that friendship is great and important because it is hard to get and to keep. In this story, Lennie and George are truly good friends, they stick to each other no matter what happens. They both have the same dream, the American dream. During Great Depression, everyone was working hard just to get a stable job, and so were Lennie and George! But George finally has to shoot Lennie or they both will not survive. Their friendship is a really good example for everyone, they think of each other, and help each other.


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