Of mice and men is John Steinbeck’s 1937 novella based in California during The Great Depression. Of mice and men tells the tragic story of George and Lennie, two displaced migrant farm hands who move from place to place and in the story find work in a ranch in the Salinas Valley, California. The plot is simple yet complex.
When I say tragic, you can guess that this is a story where something really bad happens in the end. In the end, the story made me sad. And it hurt. 😦 . The story is not emotional or sentimental it is just moving.
The book revolves around a lot of subtle aspects of life. Dreams,hope,loneliness, and helplessness.
George is a small,intelligent man and seeks a carefree ,independent life. Lennie is a big guy with limited mental ability. Lennie is dependent on George and knows that he wants to stay with George throughout. They have a dream which they keep repeating throughout the story. The hope of the dream come true is something that keeps them going. It is also a reminder of futility.
GEORGE “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—”
“An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ haverabbits. 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.”
“Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it.”
“No…you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on…George. How I get to tend the rabbits.”
“Well,” said George, “we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens. And when it rains in the winter, we’ll just say the hell with goin’ to work, and we’ll build up a fire in the stove and set around it an’ listen to the rain comin’ down on the roof—Nuts!”
Another aspect that Steinbeck talks about during The Great Depression is loneliness. You can see it in the following lines of the book
“A guy needs somebody – to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.
Steinbeck also weaves facets like gender roles, racism, powerlessness, fate and helplessness in the story making it ambiguous and imaginative. These aspects of the book make it open for several reading.
Steinbeck also uses Euthanasia in the story. I am sorry I won’t be able to speak more on this as it would giveaway the story.
Of Mice and Men is touching, compassionate, masterfully written, and highly recommended.
This review was written to celebrate the Banned Book Week. Of mice and men was banned for several reasons. Wikipedia says
Of Mice and Men has been a frequent target of censors for vulgarity and what some consider offensive and racist language; consequently, it appears on the American Library Association’s list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century.
“Of Mice and Men” usually cracks the top ten. In 2009, it was number five.
The the title is taken from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”
The best laid schemes o’ mice and men
Gang aft agley [go oft awry]
And leave us nought but grief and pain
For promised joy!