An Analysis of “Finding Alternatives”

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A photo taken by Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression in America, shows two men smiling and standing side-by-side. In “Finding Alternatives”, the two men does not only represent George and Lennie, the main characters in the book Of Mice and Men, it also relates to the historical context of the book. After analyzing the photo and connecting it to the book, you can see that Lange tried to give a positive mood during the Great Depression, by showing two dominant elements (the two men smiling) that are the focal point of this photo. Throughout this time period, there were dust storms that ruined all the crops on the farms and lost hope of the American Dream. People like George, Lennie, Slim, Candy, and other characters in the book dreamed to “‘live offa the fatta the lan’.’” (Steinbeck 65). They migrated to California to live a better life after the dust storm, but they were unwanted and lived in a California labor camp. The mise-en-scene of the photo are two men posing next to each other and smiling. In the background, the subordinate element is the truck that is partly covered by the men on the left. We can infer that these two men were traveling together just like George and Lennie. Even thought the two men don’t look exactly like George and Lennie, one is taller than the other, they both look dirty and dusty, with wrinkly dry hands, and it connects to how they travel together. The irony of this photo are the face expressions on the men’s face and the time period they are in. The Great Depression was a time when America was economically unstable. Many farmers and ranchers had to move from farm to farm to earn money like George and Lennie. They had no freedom and choice, just like the characters in Of Mice and Men, the men on the farm worked together and had to sleep in the same bunk house. Furthermore, the photo “Finding Alternatives” taken by Lange deeply connects to the historical context of the book Of Mice and Men and both show how people lived and survived during the Great Depression.