I needed a quick read because I stupidly forgot that the library would be closed yesterday for Veteran s Day I d exhausted my current supply, and I needed a short term fix to hold me until I could get some new product today So I grabbed Of Mice and Men off the bookshelf last night.And I m glad I did because I d somehow remembered that this was a depressing book How wrong I was Oh, sure there were some tense moments like when you think Lennie will accidently hurt Curley s wife in the barn What a relief when George and Candy come in at the last minute and stop anything bad from happening And isn t it nice that the scare changes both Curley and his wife so that they have a much better marriage and new appreciation for each other.Plus, it leads to the great moment when Curley is so grateful that he fronts George, Lennie and Candy the money to finally buy the ranch of their dreams Oh, and that last scene with George and Candy on the porch of their new home while Lennie tends the rabbits brought a tear to my eye.What s that you say I got the ending wrong No, I m quite certain this is what happened No Be quiet I can t hear you LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA Trouble with mice is you always kill em Breathtaking prose, touching characters and a heart breaking ending Who said only lengthy novel can make an impact Well, somehow I ve managed to read close to 800 books by now, and none of those had been Of Mice and Men That has been remedied now, and I m feeling emotionally drained by it So yeah.I suppose pretty much everyone knows the heartbreaking story of Lennie and George I was relatively unspoiled and still knew what happened in the end I just did not know how or why, but figured out those pretty quickly into the bookAnd still that did not help the sense of impending doom that was like one protracted gut punch. I think that says something about the masterful writing where the story takes over so much that you keep reading despite the clear sense of where it is going, without having to rely on suspense or twists instead, going forward just on the impact of the story itself I ought to of shot that dog myself, George I shouldn t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog. I used to work with Special Education kids some time ago And I have seen first hand what Steinbeck describes in Of Mice and Men the childlike vulnerability and innocence often combined with physical strength, just waiting for something bad to happen The children we took care of some of which topped my 5 3 frame by a foot or so and outweighed me by a good hundred pounds but despite that a few times I had to physically put myself on between them and a smaller child had, unlike Lennie, the society that is determined to protect them They were luckier than poor George s charge But I could not help but picture some of them, who have forever secured spots in my heart, in place of Lennie Small, feeling nothing but dread and sadness Lennie, who is as innocent as one gets, and yet as much of a unwilling menace as one can be And it was soul crushing.I think the impact of this story was that it did not have me taking sides I felt bad for Lennie I felt awful for Curley s wife who does not even have a NAME in this story I felt sad for George and what he had to do And I felt bad for the whole bunch of men who had names and stories, and a woman who got one but not the other You God damn tramp, be said viciously You done it, di n t you I s pose you re glad Ever body knowed you d mess things up You wasn t no good You ain t no good now, you lousy tart. And that s where this book lost stars for me Curley s wife, the unwilling almost antagonist victim of this story The woman who had no name except for the possessive one of her husband whose property and therefore trouble for everyone else she was viewed as It seemed that she was the one getting the blame, not as much the crazy volatile husband of hers After all, she asked for trouble, didn t she At least that s the nagging feeling I got from this story, from the way her character was handled, from the way it was repeatedly stated that atartlike her meant trouble for a man Blame the victim mentality does not sit well with me, and I can t help but think that Steinbeck did that view spoiler And the words, Poor bastard that George utters over her corpse, thinking of Lennie not about the young woman who was brutally murdered, but of Lennie, the murderer those made me so sad for the victim that did not get her share of sadness hide spoiler I remember reading this at school at being completely uninterested in the story I remember the teacher droning on about basic plot allegories before we read each section she would tell us what certain things meant before we had even seen them She would explain how this portrays a vital part of American culture and a vital element of human nature All in all we were told what to see in the book before we even began reading Perhaps she should have just let us read it first, and see what we took from it before being told how to read it I hated it at the time I hated being told that passages meant certain things when clearly criticism is just speculation This wasn t effective teaching it was being told how to think She should have prized open our minds and made us engage with it When I approached it again years later I did so with of an open mind, I was determined to find in the book than I d been taught to see And I did Lenny and George naively dream of the farm they dream of a retreat where they can reside in friendship without having to answer to any master They wouldn t have to go to work they can simply work for themselves Running their own farm would mean that they are self sustainable They could grow crops for themselves and choose when they laboured they would be free Well George wants this Lenny just wants a few rabbits to pet The attractiveness of the dream draws in Candy, who is very old and very lonely He doesn t want to end up like his dog put down because of his years He wants someone to protect him and care for him in his advanced years The three become united by this shared dream but it is nothing but fancyJust like heaven Ever body wants a little piece of lan I read plenty of books out here Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land It s just in their head They re all the time talkin about it, but it s jus in their head Indeed, the American dream doesn t exist in this book Only harsh cold reality awaits the protagonists Crooks, for all his cruel and understandable bitterness, was right in the end The farm is just a dream It is evocative of the loneliness within the human soul, and how we will always long for the impossible It s impossible because there is no sunset over the rainbow Life doesn t quite work like that People don t always get what they want The world is a cruel unforgiving place here This is embodied by Lenny he is vulnerable and emotionally weak He is completely unaware of the vicious strength he possesses He never truly understands the situation He almost walks through the world blind The world he sees is different to that of everyone else s So this is a story about the outsiders, about the unloved and misunderstood This a story about those that long for an alternative to the drudgery of standard human existence, but have their expectations cut short This is a story about how we judge people based upon their appearance and how we label them unjustly This is a story that Mary Shelley would have loved, a story where a character with an innocent heart is destroyed by the world he should have been accepted by. I think I ve been avoiding John Steinbeck, consciously or subconsciously, ever since I was a horse loving teenager and thought that The Red Pony would be a nice, pleasant book to read.I didn t read any Steinbeck books for years.But I was in the local library, puttering around in the general fiction shelves, and happened to pull this one out and noticed how short it was only 107 pages I had just finished reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was a 127 page overdose of cheesy 70 s inspiration, and it occurred to me that by reading this book to offset JLS I could restore the cosmic balance in my life, or something like that.Lennie and George are a unique pair of friends George is restless, intelligent and often short tempered Lennie is huge and incredibly strong, although mentally damaged He has a childlike sweetness but is easily confused and frightened, and that combined with his strength makes him threatening to others Somehow, despite their differences, the two have formed a friendship George tries to protect Lennie from the world and the world from Lennie It s a difficult task But they have their dreams and plans of a place of their own, where they can tend a garden and raise animals And Lennie can take care of the rabbits It s the most heavenly thing he can imagine.George and Lennie are hired as field hands at a ranch in California, and the foreshadowings of disaster start to come thick and fast An old sheepdog whose usefulness has passed is unceremoniously shot The owner s son Curley comes around to their bunkhouse, spoiling for a fight Curley s young, bored wife comes around even often, looking for a different kind of trouble The hands are sure that they only need a month or two of wages to achieve their plans of a place of their own, but the best laid schemes of mice and men gang oft agley.I was expecting to read about shattered dreams, but I was surprised and touched by the strength of the theme of true friendship not just the friendship between George and Lennie, but also the friendship and understanding offered by Slim, the ranch foreman With all of the loneliness and cruelty and loss and disappointment that life can bring, it s this one message of hope that I choose to take away from this short but powerful book. 608 Of Mice And Men, John SteinbeckOf Mice and Men is a novella written by author John Steinbeck Published in 1937, it tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in California in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in the United States 1974 1340 104 1356 1362 1345 184 1362 202 1366 137 1389 136 9789643314675 1370 167 1388 172 9789646631670 1394 139 20 1348 175 1363 203 1362 195 1369 195 1381 137 9647438060 137 1382 79 9646089857 1387 87 9789649616841 1387 102 9789641740940 1388 154 9789642090594 1392 1395 9789642091522 160 1389 84 9789648794670 1391 227 9786009254507 1393 216 9786009254507 1394 160 9786007987018 1395 154 9789649562032 1395 9789648882674. It s the way Steinbeck describes things that gets me Crooks, the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn On one side of the little room there was a square four paned window, and on the other, a narrow plank door leading into the barn Crooks bunk was a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung On the wall by the window there were pegs on which hung broken harness in process of being mended strips of new leather and under the window itself a little bench for leather working tools, curved knives and needles and balls of linen thread, and a small hand riveter On pegs were also pieces of harness, a split collar with the horsehair stuffing sticking out, a broken hame, and a trace chain with its leather covering split Crooks had his apple box over his bunk, and in it a range of medicine bottles, both for himself and for the horses There were cans of saddle soap and a drippy can of tar with its paint brush sticking over the edge And scattered about the floor were a number of personal possessions for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about, ad being a stable buck and a cripple, he was permanent than the other men, and he had accumulated possessions than he could carry on his back None of this is relevant to the story, and yet a middle chapter opens up with this vivid scene Steinbeck succeeds because the characters he paints in your head are exact The first time I saw the movie that was made out of this story, it was just as I had envisioned it Though the story great itself, the reason I will come back to this book is for the little things, the very things that have made me love Steinbeck so much I first read Of Mice And Men my sopho year of high school, when it was a required reading in Mrs Beeler s class I recall disliking almost all required school readings up to this point though admittedly I had skipped out on the summer reading project of The Grapes Of Wrath When this book was assigned, I knew it was different I blew through it, reading it in a day or two, even though I wasn t supposed to For once there was a school book that I enjoyed And all the credit in the world to my teacher, who chose other good books the rest of the year So it s been 6 7 years since I ve read this, and now, reading it for the second time, it s just as memorable as I remember The story sticks with you, the imagery sticks The characters are among Steinbeck s best, painted in such a crystal clear vision of the time.It s a near perfect short story, and one that I will surely revisit throughout my life. Over the past year, I have rediscovered John Steinbeck as a master American story teller Having read Cannery Row and its follow up Sweet Thursday, I realized what a prolific author Steinbeck was and hope to continue my reading with a number of his novels this year One novella I did read while in school but have a fuzzy memory of is Of Mice and Men With a square on this year s classic bingo board being read a group read that you haven t read yet, I decided that it was as good a time as any to revisit this work of Steinbeck s through adult eyes.Near the Salinas River and Soledad, California, two nomadic farm hands named George and Lennie stake out their existence in life George dreams of having his own farm house and acreage but it is during the depression and he has little money saved He also promised Aunt Clara, really a family friend, that he would take care of her nephew Lennie, a dimwitted yet strong man Steinbeck portrays George as an average man during his era who attempts to find work in order to make ends meet, yet he has the added burden of caring for and providing for Lennie s well being Had this been written in contemporary times, Lennie would have been characterized as developmentally disabled or autistic, yet in the 1930s society could not pinpoint what ailed people like Lennie They were dismissed as dimwitted with little future, preventing those caring for them in having many prospects for bettering themselves either.The reader finds out that Lennie loves animals although with his limited mental capacity he does not have success in caring for them, killing one mouse, rabbit, or puppy after another Steinbeck alludes to the fact that the reason that George and Lennie are in between jobs is because Lennie had felt a woman s dress meaning no harm, yet the act alarmed other members of their work team, forcing the duo to flee the premises As the pair approaches yet another farm, George makes Lennie promise to keep his mouth shut, to do whatever George asks him to, and to please stay out of trouble Despite the best of intentions, with Lennie s condition being what it is, he does not always remember to do what George asks of him, putting both of their futures in jeopardy.As in past jobs, George quickly becomes friendly with the rest of the work crew, attempting to distance himself from Lennie Lennie ends up attempting a friendship with the rest of the outcasts on the farm, including a Negro horseshoe hand, yet even this relationship ends in tragedy When Lennie s actions result in tragic proportions, George must choose between protecting Lennie and thinking of himself and his own future, with the denouement coming to a upsetting climax I could not help but thinking that if George and Lennie lived today with society s awareness of degrees of developmental delays, that both George and Lennie would have enjoyed a happier existence The burden of caring for Lennie would not have been placed on George, and Lennie himself would have been taught the rudimentary aspects of self care and perhaps even been placed in a basic job Yet, placing George and Lennie in modern times is hearsay and their relationship ended in tragedy with Steinbeck placing George in a precarious situation which he would have to dwell upon for the rest of his life In reading Steinbeck I have seen how he has done a masterful job in painting his characters as archetypes of the era in which they lived, usually depression era California George and Lennie are two men looking to better themselves in a decade when one had little to be happy about While rereading this tragic novella, I could not help but think if like other books I read for school if this is above most teenagers heads Perhaps, teachers could discuss George and Lennie s relationship and where Lennie would be if he lived today, much as I did while reading Yet, like other books I read at the time, Of Mice and Men gains a deeper appreciation while reading it through adult eyes Another bingo square checked off, yet definitely not the last Steinbeck novel I will devour this year.4.5 stars The Compelling Story Of Two Outsiders Striving To Find Their Place In An Unforgiving World Drifters In Search Of Work, George And His Simple Minded Friend Lennie Have Nothing In The World Except Each Other And A Dream A Dream That One Day They Will Have Some Land Of Their Own Eventually They Find Work On A Ranch In California S Salinas Valley, But Their Hopes Are Doomed As Lennie, Struggling Against Extreme Cruelty, Misunderstanding And Feelings Of Jealousy, Becomes A Victim Of His Own Strength Tackling Universal Themes Such As The Friendship Of A Shared Vision, And Giving Voice To America S Lonely And Dispossessed, Of Mice And Men Has Proved One Of Steinbeck S Most Popular Works, Achieving Success As A Novel, A Broadway Play And Three Acclaimed Films What can I possibly add to a discussion of John Steinbeck s Of Mice and Men without drawing a high school English teacher s salary Considering I m not drawing bored glances from teenagers, I doubt that a check from LAUSD will appear in my mailbox anytime soon Published in 1937, this is the work that the Goodreads algorithms seem to have agreed is the author s most renowned For Stephen King, it s The Shining, for El Leonard it s Get Shorty and for John Steinbeck it s Of Mice and Men This is a novella, approximate length 34,720 words I read it in under forty eight hours The story revolves around two ranch hands traveling the highways and ranches of California, looking out for each other and trying to build enough of a stake to put down on their own piece of land Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features Every part of him was defined small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, with wide, sloping shoulders and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely. George Milton is the small man, the thinker Lennie Small is the child in a hulk s body Walking ten miles to a barley ranch south of Soledad after a bus driver with a grudge drops them off on the highway far short of their destination, Lennie is fascinated by petting mice or rabbits or anything with a nice texture Lennie has never laid a hand on George, enad by the tales his traveling partner tells of the land they ll settle someday When the men finally arrive for work, George does the talkingHe ain t no cuckoo, said George He s dumb as hell, but he ain t crazy An I ain t so bright neither, or I wouldn t be buckin barley for my fifty and found If I was bright, if I was even a little bit smart, I d have my own little place, an I d be bringin in my own crops, stead of doin all the work and not getting what comes up outta the ground George fell silent He wanted to talk Slim neither encouraged nor discouraged him He just sat back quiet and receptive. One of the reasons John Steinbeck is my favorite author is that when he pens description, I don t want it to end, and when he switches to dialogue, I don t want his characters to stop talking either Stephen King s dialogue can be tin, while El Leonard s attentiveness when it comes to prose is short spanned to say the least, but Steinbeck s descriptions and dialogue achieve a purity that captivates me It s like the difference between drinking water from a garden hose that s been drying in the sun with who knows what crawling inside it and one day, someone hands you a bottle of Perrier While most authors have been around people, with Steinbeck, I m always left with the undeniable impression he watched and achieved a wisdom about people Then he works that knowledge into his books and passes it along to the reader I find myself able to relate to Steinbeck than I can the majority of contemporary authors, who often seem to have never been around humans who dreamed, drank, lusted, got into fights or trouble with the law, fell out with family members or worried about where their next meal might come from Crooks said gently, Maybe you can see now You got George You knowhe s goin to come back S pose you didn t have nobody S pose you couldn t go into the bunkhouse and play rummy cause you was black How d you like that S pose you had to sit out here an read books Sure you could play horseshoes till it got dark, but then you got to read books Books ain t no good A guy needs somebody to be near him He whined, A guy goes nuts if he ain t got nobody Don t make no difference who the guy is, long as he s with you I tell ya, he cried, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an he gets sickFor those joining late, I m no English teacher, but if I encountered someone who was adamant that they didn t read fiction I m thinking men here and I wanted to try to get them to change their attitude, Of Mice and Men would be the novel I d hand them It s short, it s about men and work and figuring out a better future and loyalty and how things don t always work out the way you dream they will Yet the writing takes me away to another place I couldn t last a day bucking barley or bucking a sack of anything, but as Steinbeck knows well, we all yearn to be on the open road, traveling, camping out on a river and maybe eating beans just because we felt like it Lastly, Of Mice and Men has been adapted to film twice a 1939 production starring Burgess Meredith as George and Lon Chaney Jr as Lennie and a 1992 film with Gary Sinise as George and John Malkovich as Lennie Reading the novel, I heard Sinise s voice as George As Lennie, I heard the Abominable Snowman from the 1949 Looney Toons short directed by Chuck Jones, The Abominable Snow Rabbit References to Steinbeck s novel have been dropped by a ton of cartoon series, perhaps as much a tribute to Jones as to Steinbeck, but the homage that stands out for me are the characters of Pinky and the Brain on Animaniacs.