The deep green pool of the Salinas River was still in the late afternoon. Already the sun had left the valley to go climbing up the slopes of the Gabilan Mountains, and the hilltops were rosy in the sun. But by the pool among the mottled sycamores, a pleasant shade had fallen.

– John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men, Chapter 6 opening words. Here Steinbeck describes a tranquil scene. But while the river seems calm, on closer examination there is an underpinning of violence as a heron kills and devours a small snake. This is symbolic of the atmosphere at the ranch, idyllic on the surface but there is also the aggressive and violent nature of Curley, his wife’s discontent, and alienation and racism.