As novels progress, they foreshadow the turning point through many events prior to the incident. The turning point is the climax; the series of events are the rising action. As in Of Mice and Men, there are many symbols and hints throughout the rising action, compiling up to the moment when Lennie did something that changed his life forever—the murder of Curley’s wife: the dead mouse inside Lennie’s pocket, the death of his puppy, and the shooting of Candy’s mouse. These subtle yet paramount minutiae are overlooked easily by readers, despite them being important building blocks of the plotline. The Young Elites is yet another book leaving breadcrumbs of future events for meticulous readers to pick up; significant hints are understated and muted, tricking the reader into thinking them as some extra, unneeded details. When flipping through a book, it is easy to despise the dull and seemingly-bland rising action for the intriguing and fascinating climax. No, rising action is not enthralling. Still, it is essential to remember its significance: it builds up the tension and intensity that is to be released in the climax. So as we mark the importance of the rising action, let’s have a close look through Of Mice and Men and the Young Elites, not at what merely happened throughout the rising action, but at what each event or object symbolizes or foreshadows. Not at the blandness of the rising actions, but at its importance throughout novels.
In Of Mice and Men, the dead mouse inside Lennie’s pocket and the death of his puppy, all depicted Lennie’s complex personality: gentle yet dangerous without his will. Being kind and loving by whole, he is unaware of his strength and savage, brute nature. This is also repeatedly hinted throughout the entire book, manifested through Lennie’s talk to the puppy after he accidently killed it: “And Lennie said softly to the puppy, “why do you got to get killed? You ain’t so little as mice. I didn’t bounce you hard.””(83, Steinbeck) Lennie is, however, still a child, despite him being a big man in appearance. When George asked Lennie to give the mouse to him, Lennie was unwilling to do so due to his love for soft things, which is repeated emphasized throughout the novel, just like when a parent asks a kid to give away his favorite toy, the kid is reluctant to do so: “Lennie reluctantly reached into his pocket. His voice broke a little. “I don’t know why I can’t keep it.””(7) Unfortunately, Lennie is not capable of expressing his love and always ends up killing what he is fond of. Therefore, the killing of the mouse and the puppy foreshadows what is to come—the killing of Curley’s wife. Candy’s dog was another foreshadowing for a significant event: the death of Lennie. Candy’s dog is very old, and it is useless while once being strong and vigorous. The way in which the dog is killed, a gunshot to the back of the head, indicates subtly Lennie’s ultimate death and compares Lennie to Candy’s old dog: both innocent, dependent, and doomed. Candy’s rue of letting another person, Carlson, shoot his dog also indicates George’s ultimate decision of shooting Lennie himself, giving Lennie a quick and painless death: “I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.”(61)
In the Young Elites, Marie Lu’s style of foreshadowing is muted, just like John Steinbeck’s foreshadowing in Of Mice and Men. The nickname Adelina’s mother gave her, kami gourgaem or ‘little wolf’, may seem irrelevant at first. In a flashback, it is shown that Adelina’s mother thought her daughter was fiery and would need that fire in the future. A few months after that was said, the blood fever hit and the words of Adelina’s mother proved tragically true. ‘Little wolf’ also hints Adelina’s transformations in her life: her hair turning into wolf-like color and her personality similar to a wolf on the hunt, which is calculating. These connections are subtle and fly by unnoticed if the reader is not quick enough to catch it. Even a dagger has a meaning, it delineates the true nature of the Dagger and also foreshadows their future actions. When Enzo saves Adelina from the Inquisition, a silver insignia on Enzo’s armguard is the last thing she remembers before she faints. That silver insignia turns out to be the dagger, suggesting that the Dagger Society, the organization that saved Adelina, are willing to use force to achieve their ends. This was later proved true by the actions of the Society during an event: the night of the Kenettra’s Spring Moons celebration, in which Enzo melted two Inquisition officers from the inside. He epitomized the ruthless nature of a dagger. Just like Steinback in Of Mice and Men, Lu leaves breadcrumbs for events to come in the Young Elites as well.
All in all, though rising action may not be as interesting as the climax, it is important to realize how much it has contributed to build up the wonderful climax that just make you burn thinking about. Marie Lu’s the Young Elites and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men exemplifies the paragon of foreshadowing and symbolism, ranging from the dagger and the nickname in the Young Elites to the dead mouse inside Lennie’s pocket and the death of Lennie’s puppy in Of Mice and Men. Lu and Steinbeck both leaves small hints for coming events in the rising action, and so do many other authors in their books. Next time when you are reading a book, be sure to be a watchful and circumspect reader. Next time when you are looking pass a seemingly worthless minutiae, be sure to think for a moment and say to yourself: is it really? And always remember that the results are not the only thing that matter, the process is important too.