A Brief Farewell!

I cannot believe the semester is already over! It seems like only last week we were sitting around the table for the first time introducing ourselves and looking at the syllabus with  perhaps a hint of fear at the thought of creating a weekly blog. Now look at us! I think we can say that, although we may not all be blog masters, we certainly have created some really great pages between or Deep History and Domestication blog and our animal research projects. After reading through everyone’s project, it seems clear to me that we all should be pretty proud of what we have accomplished in this class. Each animal was presented in a unique way, but in the end, all of the blogs did a phenomenal job at developing their specie’s domestication throughout history. And anyone with the slightest interest in domestication that stumbles across our main page is really in for a treat!

This class was remarkably different from any other that I have taken in college, but it has certainly been one of my favorites! I came into this course with almost zero knowledge about animal domestication or its history and now I feel like I could teach a full course on it.  It was truly phenomenal how much we were able to cover in such a short time together and it really is a shame that its coming to a close. I really enjoyed our discussions each week and I’m really glad to have met all of you guys. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and hopefully our paths will cross a few more times, either at Tech or in the future.

Dr. Nelson, I cannot thank you enough for all the work you put into this course. You really made this class fun while encouraging us to push ourselves and learn new things. I can honestly say that I would never have even considered blogging before this class and now I might even go so far as to say I enjoy it! The readings and discussions that you set up each week opened my mind to so many new things that I will carry with me forever. I look forward to taking more classes with you in the future and I hope that you continue to offer this class as long as you are teaching. It really was an awesome class and I think that everyone should be given the chance to take it!

I will remember you all and this class for the rest of my life. It is astounding how domestication works its way into almost every subject and aspect of society, and I would never truly have known the all encompassing history of domestication without this class. I look forward to being able to expand my learning with this course as a basis, and I only hope that my future classes are half as great as this one.

Thanks to all of you for making this a memorable semester!

Final thoughts

I like tidy endings. I like tying up loose ends and finishing things well. Therefore, you get this blog post. I just want to say this: Deep History and Domestication was one of the best classes I’ve taken at Virginia Tech.

I really want to teach when I grow up (probably some sort of animal physiology, zoology, or something in that vein), so whenever I take a particularly good class, I pay attention to how it is run, so I can aspire to teach like that in my future. Usually, I can break it down to a few things: clear explanations, abundant resources, an interested instructor. In this class, I wasn’t quite able to do that. Everything just worked. Of course, Dr. Nelson is awesome and did a great job teaching the class and selecting the readings. She also has a remarkable ability to express her own opinion and still let her students have theirs. She deserves nearly all of the credit for making this class excellent.

However, everybody else in the class was great too. We came from a wide variety of backgrounds and majors and were all able to bring our experiences to the table–both figuratively and literally, since we met in the Hillcrest meeting room, around a table. The final projects really express this wide variety of backgrounds and abilities, which all bring something interesting and worthwhile. Erica’s chicken project (the class winner!) is extensive and covers everything from factory farming to the ethics of dissection. Her description of dissecting a recently killed chicken is particularly compelling. Alex’s donkey project and Ben’s reindeer project were fun to read and compare to my own horse project, noticing differences and similarities between these large, herbivorous domesticates. Humans still do not control the movement of reindeer, which fascinates me. And while horses have become more and more widespread, donkeys are actually becoming endangered. Bill’s bee project moves seamlessly from plant biology to modern medicine, making me realize that bees touch our lives in more ways than I ever thought possible. Casey’s goldfish site, with its stunning design (enter the Goldfish!), is full of interesting information about the ancient world and today’s world (and includes a really cool goldfish training video!). Chris’s cat project talks about internet cats, Egyptian cats, and everything in between. It made me wonder whether cats will ever become fully domesticated. Last, but more certainly not least, Connor’s pigeon project, a fascinating discussion of how pigeons gained their terrible reputation, covers lots of cool things including (my favorite!) Darwin and pigeons.

I can’t really do these projects justice by describing them, but they are really impressive. I really enjoyed having a class format in which everybody’s work was available to everybody else–then we could all learn from each other’s ideas. The freedom we were allowed on the final project was also really refreshing–I loved getting to do basically whatever I wanted on my final project. I was able to make it want I wanted and, for one of the few times in college, I am really proud of what I produced.

I may be rambling now, so I suppose that I ought to quit and say goodbye to Deep History and Domestication. However, like in all excellent classes, I won’t lose what I learned. I’ll carry the knowledge with me and, hopefully, weave it into my increasingly large tapestry of “how life works.”

I’ll leave you all with this:

At age 7, my best friend and I were very serious about our domesticates: Elizabeth (front) and Margaret (back).

At age 7, my best friend and I were very serious about our domesticates: Elizabeth (front) and Margaret (back).

One Last Hoorah

Well, I guess my time as an domestic animal expert is coming to an end. So here are some of my final thoughts on the class as a whole as well as the ending projects:

In regards to the class:
If anyone is reading this and attends Virginia Tech (and enrolled in the honors program), I 100% recommend you take this class if you are looking for a colloquia class. What an experience this class was, learning about things I had no idea about. Some of the material was so intriguing that I couldn’t wait to read for the next week (and that’s saying something, I am not a huge fan of reading). I definitely would say Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgers was my favorite title we read this semester (although I know Bill would disagree, due to Bulliet’s “lack of credibility”). Regardless, his words really got me thinking, and I agree one hundred percent how the world is transferring into a post-domestic society.

Projects and classmates:

Erica- so. much. information. I envy your work ethic and how you love putting in the time and effort, it definitely shows. Good luck at JMU.

Camilla- Your knowledge on the horse before the research for your project was noticeable, you had great arguments to back up your points.

Casey- Bold strategy, going with the goldfish. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it. And you pulled it off, revealing a good project.

Bill- The honeybee, another bold move. You financial wit and input kept me entertained this year, good luck with law school.

Chris- Your cat project had me cracking up, as well as filling me with useful information on the feline. We should jam sometime dude, always down to play some music.

Ben- The reindeer was fun to read about, and I’m sure you enjoyed reading that book we had to get. I ended up saving that one too, I’m going to complete it over the summer, you persuaded me.

Connor- Dude your pigeon information was very detailed, I had no idea how much the pigeon did for the human!


Ms. Nelson, thank you so much for s great semester. This class wouldn’t have been what it was without you (obviously). Keep doing what you’re doing, because I guarantee that majority of your students have nothing negative to say about you, or your teaching style, etc. You kept discussions engaging, and were very lenient about blogging and all that. I hope to take another one of your classes before the end of my undergrad career.

A final farewell class, love you all,


Final Food and Course Awards

To celebrate the completion of some pretty terrific research on domestication we planned an end-of-term food fest to honor the animals we have studied over the course of the semester. The crew assembled here is ready to dive into a smorgasbord of food for, derived from, or inspired by the domesticates they researched and wrote about this semester.  The projects – which focus on the Honeybee, Goldfish,  Pigeon, Chicken, Cat, Donkey, Horse and Reindeer,are available from the research project menu on the main blog page.Feast for the Final Class

The Menu: Earl Grey tea with honey represented Bill’s fine study of the honeybee. Horses would have had stiff competition from us for the apples and caramel dipping sauce Camilla brought.  Alex paid homage to the donkey with ginger snaps (because watermelon is not in season), while Connor prepared a bowl of delicious fresh berries and gummy worms as pigeon food. Chris also played with the symbolic, bringing goldfish crackers and milk to represent the house cat. My own approach to this assignment was synthetic. I tried to include something for everybody in the “Domesticate Cookies” I made.IMG_1164

Ben and Casey took the creative route, crafting reindeer cookies and goldfish marshmallows that would be the envy of any domestic god or goddess.goldfishreindeer

 And then it was time for awards! (I’m very sorry I didn’t get photos of the winners modeling their prizes).  The finalists for “Best Video Featured on a Research Project Blog” were: 1) “Which Came First, the chicken or the Egg?” 2) George Carlin on Cats and 3) The Amazing Trick Goldfish.  Scroll all the way down on the goldfish page to find the winner, also pictured here with his culinary handiwork.CaseysFishWeb

The finalists for “Best Poem Featured in a Research Project Blog” were: 1) An ancient Egyptian Ode to embryos (and eggs?) 2) A honey-themed excerpt from the Illiad and 3) “Cher Ami,” a poem written to commemorate the feats of a pigeon hero of the First World War.  Following enthusiastic dramatic readings of all three entries, Cher Ami emerged as the winner of this coveted award.

A discussion ensued over the Best Overall Research Project Design, and while there were many good candidates, the group quickly settled on a winner.

The prize goes to….drum roll, please…….THE CHICKEN!!!! With deep appreciation of your contribution to the class this whole semester, your insistence that we always keep an eye on our moral compass, and your uncanny ability to raise the bar for all of us, Erica, we want you to come claim your prize, please.

Best Overall Design Award

Best Overall Design Award

Hokie students call on Virginia Tech officials to divest from Fossil Fuels

This is worth writing an unofficial blog post.

Remember that square of orange felt I wore Tuesday? That symbol of the divestment movement is the color orange, rather than green, to reframe the movement’s scope as much larger than an environmental issue. Divestment from fossil fuels is not a single-issue movement. This is a space where environmental justice, climate justice, and economic justice have come into contact. It means those who wear it understand they will not win the fight against the fossil fuel industry without confronting racism, classism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression.

At the convergence we began conversations about intersectionality and historical responsibility on an international scale.

Is Anything (even divesting VT’s 600 million dollars from fossil fuels) possible when you believe in it? When you take action because you believe in your and the collective ability to create it? These Virginia Tech students definitely do. Watch this student-created You Tube Video: 

Divest Virginia Tech 

Do you think a student movement can sway University officials to change their relationship with their endowment? Can we still make a reasonable return without investing in Exxon or Peabody Coal?

I am proud of the Hokies who have and are inheriting the spirit of being a Virginia Tech student. That is, we believe it is our responsibility to invent the (right) future.


The lab rat

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of animal testing is the rat; the white lab rat to be specific. There is no doubt that through television, word of mouth, and several case studies that this idea is stuck in my mind, and most likely many others too.

Lab animal testing = white lab rat

example: in the movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, in his basement laboratory he has a testing facility for his concoctions. What animal does he test them on? The lab rat, and they are ALL WHITE. It’s just a modern idea that the white lab rat came to be through many representations.

Rats have been a part of humans lives for thousands of years. Whether they be in our cities, sewers, manage to find their way onto our boats, or other scenarios, they are always in close contact with humans (obviously not by the human’s choice). Rats are considered filthy, disgusting creatures in most societies.  There is no doubt however that this is true due to their dwelling situations.

You can’t talk about rat history without bringing up the Plague. Carried by these nasty vermin, this disease wiped out millions of people. It got to the point where people were afraid to even bathe, claiming the disease was carried in water. (could you imagine living in a society where staying un-bathed was more helpful than cleaning yourself?)

Back to scientific testing on these bastards: I am a huge animal rights advocate. I believe in good treatment of all (ehem, most) animals. But for some reason I can’t find myself being in advocate for the rat? Personally, what benefits does a rat have, living in the wild, scavenging for food at all times of the day? At least in a scientific lab they are fed, watered, nurtured, etc. Yes, I know some of the testing is inhumane, or outrageous. But ladies and gentlemen, we live is an extremely modern world, where new products are being created EVERYDAY. So what would you rather have, a defective product that’s potentially harmful to humans because it was never tested, or a few dead lab rats that have lived a good life so far, never having to worry about food or water, and a safe product? I know this might sound like it goes against my other posts (I have an extreme post-domestic mindset, according to Bulliet), but this just seems like the right idea.


Oh yeah, did I mention I didn’t like rats at all?

Food, Pest, Pet…Research Subject

Jonathon Burt’s introduction to Rat prompted many of us to think long and hard about why our 21st-century American reactions to a ubiquitous rodent are so strong and so negative.  Looking at the rat in other contexts provides a somewhat different perspective.  For example, the Rat is the first animal of the Chinese horoscope cycle. Rat - Ai WeiWei's RatThe Rat conveys many positive qualities to people born under its sign, including leadership, charm, passion and practicality. Year of the Rat people might also be cruel, controlling and exploitative, which reminds us that good and evil are inseparable.  One requires the other, and problems arise when balance is disrupted.

Other cultures have a more practical approach to mice (which belong to the same sub-family of the rodentia order as rats — the murinae).  In Malawi poached mice on sticks (captured in freshly harvested corn fields) are considered a culinary delicacy.mice

But I find that rats and mouse brethren get especially interesting here in the West in the late 19th / early 20th centuries, when creatures mainly seen as “vermin” join the ranks of pets and then become the first purpose bred laboratory animals.  Why and how did this transformation come about and why do rats still evoke such complex and strong responses from us?  Bill’s fabulous post noted that “there is no species whose narrative has been as forever altered by contact with humanity as the rat.”  I’m wondering what would happen if we inverted the query:  Where would we be without rats and how has the human condition changed as a result of our interactions with this creature?  (As you know, this is a central question of the research projects, and I am looking forward to learning about how everyone sees this issue in terms of the species they’ve been working with throughout the semester.)

Our readings by Karen A. Rader and Kenneth J. Shapiro present us with a good analytical framework for thinking about how the process of domestication shaped human-rat (mouse) interactions over the last century or so.  Camilla and Ben have some excellent insights about how rats double as humans, serving as models for humans in biomedical experiments, and anthropomorphic citizens of parallel societies in young adult fiction.  Ai Wei-Wei’s zodiac rat, pictured above, portrays the ambiguity of the rat-human divide more powerfully than many words could. Disney’s Mickey, the world’s most famous mouse has long provided scholars with insight about a creature, who in Karen Raber asserts “redefines or challenges conventional zoological and social understanding” (p. 389).  Stephen J. Gould’s 1979 essay on neotony still provides an excellent jumping off point for those wanting to learn more.micearmyweb

I’m intrigued by the nexus of domestication, affection, revulsion, and technology we find in contemporary American attitudes about rats and mice.  Connor makes some good points about the importance of these rodents to scientific research, and I agree that the contribution to human welfare these animals have made is significant.  I think it’s important, however, to consider Shapiro’s and Raber’s analysis closely – regardless of what one thinks about the ethics of animal testing.  In Shapiro’s article, we find a nuanced dissection (sorry!) of the synergy between the development of the concept of the “lab animal” and the domestication of rats for that purpose.  The application of selective breeding, specific kinds of socialization, and the creation of new “habitats” / confinement systems facilitated the emergence of the domestic lab rat (from the Norway rat) and articulated and shaped the meaning (social construction) of those animals for researchers and human audiences outside the lab.  Shapiro’s assertion that rodents make poor models for humans, especially in psychological research presents us with some uncomfortable questions, as does Donna Haraway’s concept of the “cyborg” animal, which is equal parts nature, culture, and technology (think OncoMouseTM).

Finally, for all of their negative cultural baggage, stigma as vermin and unwilling contribution to scientific research, rats can be that most favored of American creatures – the domesticated pet. Rats are clean, sociable, and come in a rainbow of colors.  Unlike other rodents sold in pet stores, they rarely bite, and are excellent companions for young children. Ginger and Snap 2004 The first two rats our family adopted were rescued from the snake food tank at a local pet store (our enthusiasm for raising domestic animals to feed captive wild animals would also be worth thinking through more carefully).  In their two years with us they provided endless hours of entertainment and companionship, loved nothing more than to snuggle into a pocket for a nap, and displayed remarkable calm in the face of the cat’s obviously predatory intentions.  If they could write about their histories with us, I wonder what they would say?

Of Mice and Men (not Steinback)

After so much reading on the subjects of rats and rats in the lab I now understand how little I knew about this species.  Right off the bat I was surprised that laboratory rats were called heroes and how often rats and humans were compared.  I was also surprised at extreme emotional spectrum that rats elicit, namely because I have never given them much thought.  In one instance the word rat itself apparently produces an almost disgusted response in humans and in the next we revere their contributions to medical research in the lab.  At first I was not convinced of the similarities between humans and rats especially in Rader readings regarding Mickey Mouse and the supposed intentions of Disneyland.  As I read and learned of how effectively and efficiently rats evolve I began to understand this connection.  It seems to me and based on these readings that rats have suffered the least from human expansion.  Not only are they evident in almost every man made structure, they actually thrive from it.  When one compares the presence of rats in human life with other animals, besides those that we intentionally make a part of our environment, they are in a class of their own.  In fact a rat in a city may be one of the only wild animals you can see apart from birds and other rodents.  Perhaps this is why pigeons are referred to as rat with wings.  Not only are they present in large numbers as well as rats but they are part of the small group of wild animals able to survive in man-made environments.  The adaptive ability of the rat cannot be repudiated but I find it doubtful that they will ‘inherit the world’ someday.  The other similarity between rat and human that I would have never made is the selfishness of these two species in regard to other animals.  Just as we exploit animals for our benefit with little to no benefit to them, depending on your standing on such issues, rats exploit us with little to no benefit on our part.   I found this fact really interesting because I can think of no other animal that has been able to ‘pull one over’ on humans like this.  I believe that this is a main contributor to our dislike of the rats in addition to many others.

                To dislike the rat because it exploits us would certainly illustrate the hypocritical nature of human beings but I can’t help but feel some used.  In earlier times I could easily see the frustration our ancestors had towards the ever present rat.  The presence of the rat is magnified because no other species is so unintentionally integrated into human life.  I almost see it as an annoying little brother following an older brother around, reaping from his successes.  It could almost devalue such progress if it becomes apparent that even a small rodent could match the same feet.  What I mean is imagine humans overcoming a pretty significant barrier such as water due to our innovation of a boat.  Now imagine conquering something that could not have been accomplished before and then realizing that freeloading rat can also cross an entire ocean simply because they hoped aboard.  I would definitely lose some pride if I stepped foot on an unmanned island and turned around to see rats marching the beach as well.  I know this is a selfish view but I feel like it is human nature and understandable if not acceptable.  Another reason for human distain towards rats given in the reading is their reversion to cannibalism if resources are low.  I wish this was highlighted more in the reading simply because in all the similarities between humans and rats, this is one stark contrast.  I feel like the contrast is so great that rat cannibalism should be credited as the main source of our distaste for rats.  Of course there are exceptions but cannibalism is and has been such a taboo in our species.  It is not such a stretch of the imagination then to picture an ancestor of ours coming across a group of rats eating a fellow rat and being disgusted by the sight.  This brings me to the next major point of why we dislike rats, the way in which they eat their food.  In naming them the Latin root comes from the word gnaw.  Being named after the way in which they eat clearly marks our intrigue in this part of their lives.  Again I can picture an ancestor of ours being disgusted by the way in which a rat ate simply because it is so different from the way in which we eat.

                One point that Bart made in which I did not agree was in regards to his explanation of the view of rats changing from thief to dirty.  He claims that as we put filth away from sight and rats then moved into this filth, that they are still clean themselves and so this is not a substantial theory in the transition of public opinion.  I feel like Bart needs to give this stance more support even though rats themselves are still clean.  Think of the toilet, it is one of the cleanliest parts of the house yet it is not regarded as such and shares a negative public human opinion with the rat.  Perhaps an ancient reason for the negative view of rats is their resemblance to locust.  As I read Burt’s passage regarding their sheer number and willingness to eat anything and everything in their path I could not help but compare them to locus.  And as so much of this class and our history as shown, if something can be drawn back to religion it can be given a lot of validation as a reason or cause. 

                In the Rader reading I was very surprised at the resistance Little met in trying to connect the field of medicine and genetics.  Today these are so incorporated that it is hard to imagine them ever being distinguished from one another.  In the Shapiro reading I mostly understood the reasoning behind the treatment and attitude towards lab animals.  It is necessary to forget the individuality among a species used to better the human race.  In regards to behavior and psychological testing, however, I feel that much more emphasis must be placed on the individual because these are much more variable.  Just as with humans, I believe that animals are more than just the sum of their individual biological processes.  Giving an animal a name and a personality could help keep this in mind while conducting experiments.

Rats, Mice, and Lovecraft

I completely geeked out when I saw an H.P. Lovecraft story referenced in our reading. I absolutely cannot pass up an opportunity to attempt a blog post with semi-legitimate academic merit that includes as much Lovecraft as I can fit.

Before I dive in, I’d like to put a disclaimer here: I had trouble  finding a topic to really hone in on. Our readings (and please correct me if I’m wrong) don’t seem to render much of an opinion. Ideas and themes are certainly examined, but I couldn’t really find many opinions to contest and disagree with. So I apologize if my post is a little haphazard and meandering; much like the readings, I have things to say, but I really don’t have a serious and defining opinion.

Let’s talk about aliens for a while. I’d like to discuss the theme that’s floated around in the readings that rats are more or less a foil of humanity, or that rats serve some equivalent or base analogy to human nature. And to piggyback on Burt’s Rats in the Walls example, here’s another Lovecraftian story – At the Mountains of Madness. For a quick summary, just think Ancient Aliens. Antarctic explorers discover the ruins of an alien civilization. Through a series of vague murals, the explorers discover that all current species of Earth, particularly humanity, were created as a joke, an afterthought. Humans were exploited by these aliens throughout deep history for labor and experimentation, while also being loathed and treated like vermin.

I’m not entirely sure how this fits in, but I feel there’s something to be said for a broader look at Lovecraft’s rat/human relationship, particularly in light of how Burt interprets such relationship: “It is intriguing to find scientists commenting that rodents will inherit the earth after humans have died out. This feels like the antithesis to Lovecraft’s devolutionary notion that the basest figure is the rat, the bottom of the animal pile as it were.” I would actually argue that science fits right in line with Lovecraft’s thesis. The Madness story continues with the alien creators dying out through foreign attack and self-destruction, and humanity picking up in the realm of factual history – sounds pretty similar to our reading predictions, right? Between Burt and Rader, we can kind of pick up on this idea of the rat being both the pinnacle and base of evolution, success, and morality through the lens of comparison between rats and humans. Lovecraft’s origin story firmly puts humanity in the position of a rodent – through extermination, adaption, and survival.




Of Mice and Men

This was my second time reading Of Mice and Men and just as it had been the first time, I found the book to be emotional moving, more so than many others that I have read.  The parallels between the beginning part of the book and the end of the book create such a dramatic climax that really draws in the reader.  The tragedy is magnified due to it taking place in the same place Lenie and George had drawn up hope and plans for the future.  The differences in these two scenes really illustrate the theme of the loss of innocence that is prevalent throughout the book and ultimately embodies the death of Lenie.  When George and Lenie first happen upon the river they disturb the wildlife which quickly flees from their presence.  Lenie’s second trip to this place was not as disrupting to the wild life and his approach is even compared to that of a creeping bear.  It was almost as if the events that had unfolded in the book had caused a change in the way Lennie was received by the wild.  Perhaps his inability to escape his simple primal wants made him more wild and animal like than human.  Just as the water snake swam helplessly to its death at the beak of a heron, Lenie’s need for soft, warm comfort led to his death.

Seeing as how this reading is assigned in a class on domestication I really struggled to find themes and meanings involving domestication within the story.  To begin, I noted the effect George and Lenie’s presence had on the wildlife surrounding the river.  This led me to believe that a possible theme incorporating domestication of this book may be the negative effects humans have on animals.  The way Lenie stroked animals until the point of death certainly could represent the negative outcome excessive human control has on animals.  In the part of the book where Crooks, Candy, Lenie and Curley’s wife are present in Crooks room, the way in which Curley’s wife reduces Crooks to nothing, and his defensive mechanism of retreating within himself really reminded me of some of our discussions on human-animal relations.  Her flaunting of complete control reminded me of how livestock are striped of identity.  As I continued reading it seemed more likely that an underlying theme of the book was simply animal-human relations and not just the negative outcomes of such an association.

I was really intrigued with how Slim was conveyed to the reader.  His description was conveyed as pure and he is even said to have “God-like eyes.”  With such a righteous character, it seems that any actions of Slim are assumed to be correct or right.  His drowning of the puppies, therefore, cannot be compared to the other deaths of animals that did not deem his approval.  The death Lenie’s pup and mice were out of ignorance while the drowning of Slim’s pups were out of necessity because according to him the mother would have not been able to take care of all her offspring.  So does this mean that not all dominating control over animals results in negative outcomes for the animal?  The killing of a dog’s pups is essentially playing God from her perspective, yet if Slim had not done this what would the outcome for mother and offspring have been?  The killing of Candy’s dog also shows to me that some dominating control of animals by humans is actually beneficial to them. 

                At the same time, I couldn’t help to associate the way that all the characters were cramped in a small space, forced to chase unlikely dreams just to keep their insanity with the lifestyle of livestock.  Most of the characters shared their aspirations of a better life where they control their fate and can actual say something is there’s.  Perhaps animals can be capable of feeling this lack of freedom, and yearn for it on some level.  Again this may be forcing the animal-human relations issue but I am just trying to see what relevance this novel has to our class material. 

                One of the final lines of the book convinced me that an underlying theme of the book is not only the ignorance to the innocence of Lenie, but the ignorance of the innocence of animals: “Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin them two guys?”  This shatters the concept of good and bad and shows that there is a gray are to which people can be ignorant to.  Some things act by nature with no malice intended and people must be aware of this.  I found it very interesting that Curley’s Wife was never given a name, perhaps sealing her fate as an antagonist. 

                My favorite line of the novel is: “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment.  And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”