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Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

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Author: John Steinbeck / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 26 February 2008 / Genre: Languages / Subcategory: English Language Teaching (ELT): yes / Category: ELT Graded Readers / Publisher: Pearson Education Limited / Title: Of Mice and Men / ISBN 13: 9781405855365 / ISBN 10: 1405855365 / Alternative EAN: 9780141023571

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      09.04.2013 11:39
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      Excellent tale of two friends struggling to make it in the Great Depression

      I can't count how many times I've looked at this book and thought I should read it. It's not up until recently that I did, determined that I would do this even before watching a film of it, such as the one with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, who play the two leads of the story, George and Lennie.

      John Steinbeck's legendary book has been used in many schools as a literary example, and it's perhaps this that has put me off reading it. I'm lucky enough not to have had this thrust upon me in school. Instead, it's Thomas Hardy I can't read without thinking I should be analysing it!

      Steinbeck's novel starts off with some of the beautiful description that his gentle prose allows. You get a clear vivid picture of the surroundings in 1930s South of the US during the Great Depression as two friends George and Lennie stroll on their way to their latest job as farmers. Here, they'll meet a number of diverse characters, each brought to clear distinction by Steinbeck. They encounter the obnoxious Curly, the boss's son, his seductive wife, the cool and calm Slim, Old Candy and his dog, and Crooks the black stable boy. Each and every one of them get a strong dose of characterisation and it certainly seems to be the clearest and simplest piece of character work I've ever read.

      When you read a lot of books, you get a feel for what works for you and what doesn't. Every now and then, a book comes along that really makes you think and makes you want to take the time to read it properly. I remember reading Kate Morton's The House at Riverton a few years ago and taking a long time to read it, sitting in the sunshine and enjoying every word. While there hasn't been any sunshine around of late, reading Of Mice and Men is one of those books.

      It's not because of the situation, although this is integral to the plot and to reading between the lines. It's about the characters, and in particular Lennie and George. George is a wily fox, clever and skillful with his words and able to get him and Lennie out of every situation. Lennie himself is a gentle giant, a mental disability preventing him from realising his own strength and labelling him what some might call 'simple'. It's an affliction that we learn has landed the pair of them in hot water a number of times before, and is why they can never settle down.

      Behind this, there is their dream, the American Dream, of owning their own plot of land. Lennie is obsessed with getting some little rabbits that he can look after, and although his heavy-handed nature has occasionally caused the deaths of little creatures before, George's kind hearted and defensive soul makes sure he reassures his big simple friend at every juncture. They live and breathe for each other, as if they are mutually dependent on each other to keep going in a time which is so bad for so many people. Steinbeck's reassuring prose reflects George's nature, the wily fox able to talk his way out of every situation and convince everyone that they're just trying to stay out of trouble.

      But despite their best efforts, the story starts knotting and twisting with the simple characters, and it's Steinbeck's brilliance that makes this a wonder to read. The way he uses an elegance of words and careful description, of people, surroundings and events, makes this one of the most sensitive and clever pieces of literary work I've read. The analogies are there throughout, even comparing Lennie and Old Candy's dog at points, and it's so cleverly woven that you feel as if you're actually there at points.

      It's a quick read as well, not that you should read it quickly, but that it's only around 100 pages or so long, depending on which print you pick up. It shows that you don't need hundreds of pages to either attract a reader or to tell your story. It can be done, as with Golding's Lord of the Flies, in a very effective way in a short space of time. I thought this was excellent, and I would urge anyone to read it.

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        01.09.2011 00:04
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        5 stars from me - Great characters and a classic novel.

        Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

        * Plot *
        Set during the depression in the 1930's, this is about two migrant farm workers, George and Lenny. George is the one with the brains whereas Lenny has the muscle. Lenny is almost childlike in the way he acts because of the mental disability that he has. George looks after him acting like a father figure.
        They drift through California, finding work at whatever farms they can. They both dream of having their own farm one day and Lenny plans to keep lots of rabbits on it.
        They manage to find some work at a farm somewhere in California, where they come across the mean / angry boss's son, called Curley and his 'open-minded' wife.
        Their well laid plans start to unravel from this point onwards . . .


        * Review *
        I first read this back when I was at school. I think this is a classic novel of friendship, loyalty and human nature. The story is about the characters George and Lenny who are both good people but events and circumstances conspire against them. George is like a father figure to Lenny and Lenny is childlike which keeps getting him into trouble.
        I normally don't read books set before World War II but this pulled me in. The setting isn't all that important anyway, it could have been set anywhere really. It is more about the characters and what they feel and think. I felt the author gave enough detail about George and Lenny so I ended up empathising with both when normally I would not. He described events in such a way that I couldn't blame either for their actions. Even though I thought he was an evil p*ick, I could see why Curly acted the way he did, and why his wife was so promiscuous.
        It is not a normal novel where the villains get shot and the good guys ride off on horseback. By the end of the book, I felt somewhat emotional. We all have dreams and hopes and most of the time they get put on hold or never become reality due to circumstance. This manages to show that perfectly.


        * Summary *
        Anyone can enjoy this book from mid teens onwards. It is a classic novel that we all can relate too.

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          08.05.2011 11:47
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          Wonderful read - great plot and brilliant characters

          Set during the Depression this is a brilliant tale of George and Lennie. Although this is a fairly short book, it is packed full of plot and character.

          I really felt close to both of the main characters and I was itching to find out what happened next with them. Steinbeck wrote a brilliant book here and I found it far more uplifting than his other works. I did try them subsequently to reading this book, but I did find them a tad grim. In this case, however, I found that the right balance was made and I found it an incredibly moving book.

          Along with excellent characters and brilliant plot, this wonderful book gives you a superb incite into the Depression. It is well worthwhile taking the time to read this book, just make sure you put enough time to one side and you will have a devil of a job to put it down.

          In my opinion this is John Steinbeck's best work. I have read a lot more of his novels since but this is far his best. Due to the shortness of this novel, the plot and characters to have to be packed in and I think that this then enhances the speed which the novel takes.

          Also posted on Ciao

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            30.04.2011 15:12
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            A short classic with some very poignant themes

            Of Mice and Men is set in California, USA, during the Great Depression. It is a short novel which follows the lives of George Milton and Lennie Small, who have been travelling across America looking for work. Theirs is an unlikely friendship: George is intelligent, earnest, and determined to keep out of trouble. His American Dream is that he and Lennie will one day own their own plot of land, be their own masters, and live happily until the end of their days. Lennie is a large man, stockily built and larger than he is aware of, which hinders the progress of the dream throughout the book. He is also mentally challenged, and a loyal and doting friend to George. Lennie is the child of their father-son relationship: he requires looking after and looking out for, and his chasing of the Dream is childlike, naïve and innocent.

            We get the impression that Lennie is George's good deed when George says: "Whatever we ain't got, that's what you want. God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an' work, an' no trouble. No mess at all, and when the end of the month come I could take my fifty bucks and go into town and get whatever I want... An' whatta I got, I got you! You can't keep a job and you lose me ever' job I get. Jus' keep me shovin' all over the country all the time." But as the story progresses we understand that George needs Lennie too, perhaps because George feels some adequacy in looking after him, as Lennie would not survive otherwise. "Sure, he's jes like a kid. There ain't no more harm in him than a kid neither, except he's so strong." This innocence that George cites, however, is not enough to protect them from Lennie's mistakes, and Lennie's physical strength is ultimately their downfall.

            The bond between George and Lennie is both striking and touching in Of Mice and Men. The reader sees the power of the American Dream and the willingness of man to attempt to grasp it. We root for George and Lennie, willing the plot to give them the land they are seeking- they are, after all, hardworking and willing to save money, unlike their fellow men. We are aware, however, of an underlying issue that has prevented their success so far, and a sense of foreboding in George's awareness of their new situation. The book opens with George and Lennie arriving at a ranch where they will receive board and paid work. They are lonely characters despite their bond: indeed we get the impression that it is the bond that sees them through. Isolation is the status quo- we realise this when the boss of the ranch is suspicious of Lennie's attachment to George: "Well, I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another guy. I just like to know what your interest is."

            The reality of their situation is summed up by George: "Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place... They ain't got nothing to look ahead to." The Dream that sustains George and lie contrasts directly with the reality of their situation, yet George sums it up repeatedly throughout the book, usually at Lennie's insistence: "With us it ain't like that. We got a future. We got somebody to talk to that gives a damn about us... If them other guys gets in jail they can rot for all anybody gives a damn. But not us."

            Other characters are not so fortunate: Curly's wife is desperate for company and detested for it, Old Candy has only his crippled dog, who has to be put down, and Crooks, the stable buck and a black man, is isolated because of his colour: "Guys don't come into a colored man's room very much." Later in the story, Crooks and Candy join George and Lennie's Dream in a sudden bout of hyped idealism where they realise that they could live different lives. This is despite Crooks's earlier statement (reality) that "I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an' on the ranches... Hunderds of them. They come, an' they quit an' go on; an' every damn one of 'em's got a little piece of land in his head... An' never a God damn one of 'em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever'body wants a little piece of lan'... 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." Yet he too succumbs to the power of the Dream as a means of escape.

            Although George and Lennie are seeking escape from the cycle of work, and power over their own lives, their ideal is beautiful in itself, and any reader can identify with it, as the desire to possess one's own home is perhaps innate within human beings. We long for them to be able to achieve their aims, and despite their clashing personalities we see the delicacy of their relationship and also the strength on which it has been founded. These two characters have been through things together that have bonded them deeply, though we do not learn much about their lives before coming to the ranch.

            What we do realise, is that Lennie loves to keep animals that are much smaller and weaker than him, and although his character is gentle he cannot translate that to his physical strength. He longs to keep soft rabbits on the farm, and he also likes shiny things. We learn that the reason George and Lennie had to leave their last abode is due to the fact that Lennie held onto a girl's shiny dress, because he liked it, and was subsequently accused of rape. We realise that this is why George is so cautious, and the reason why he has taught Lennie of a nearby hiding place in case anything goes wrong.

            And George is right. Lennie has an encounter with Curly's wife and retreats to the hiding place. Even though George has done everything in his power to prevent this from happening, the book looks at the powerless of its characters to change their circumstances. All of the working men struggle with their social circumstances. Curley's wife is powerless to change her gender, and Crooks is powerless to change his race. (Curley's wife: "Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny.") Curley's character is the only one in the book who has attained some power for himself- he is head of the farm, and also very jealous of his wife, which creates a barrier of isolation between her and anyone else. In controlling other people's fortunes, Curley holds the power. Yet even he is bound to his role, as summarised by George: "I seen the guys that go around on the ranches alone. That ain't no good. They don't have no fun. After a long time they get mean. They get wantin' to fight all the time."

            The story ends in tragedy, as George is forced to commit his final caring act towards Lennie, who remains innocent of his circumstances to the end. George's action reminds us of Candy's words earlier in the book, when he failed to take control of a worsening situation: "I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn't ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog." Just as Candy was separated from his dog through circumstances in which he was powerless, George gives up Lennie out of necessity and in order to have a small amount of power over Lennie's fate. Separation, not the Dream, is therefore the final word of the book.

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              22.03.2011 23:52
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              A great book. Definitely recommend.

              Recently, I have been studying for my GCSE'S which are in May/June and we have to study two classic Novella's, one of which being John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. I had heard of this book before I read it and had heard it was amazing, so was instantly inclined to read it. The book is mainly about two migrant worker's in southern California during the 1930's. As we know, this was a very bad time for America as it was suffering from the Great depression, which was Steinbeck's main inspiration when writing this book.The book focuses on the theme of loneliness within businesses and cultures, using an excellent microcosm which is: George Milton and Lennie Small. When reading this book you can tell that Steinbeck has used many clues as to what the main characters are like, especially in the first few pages.

              I think that John Steinbeck is a truly gifted writer, supplying us with the classics that are: "Of Mice and Men" and "The Grapes Of Wrath" and many more. He went to university but left without taking a degree, which I think is really inspiring for apiring journalists. The main storyline of this book involves two main characters: George and Lennie. George is a good looking, short, little man with a curious attitude who looks after Lennie, while Lennie is a mentally retarded big man who is generally quiet and is compared to a bear: peaceful when calm but deadly when they get ticked off!

              These two characters do have one thing in common, they share a dream of owning their own land ("The American dream"). Steinbeck portrays the importance of this dream to the characters to be very important. The two have nothing, no family, friends, all they have is eachother. And a dream. The storyline to this novella is excellent. It covers three main events over four days. The boys enter a ranch to do work and this book describes their journey and experiences with the people at the ranch.

              Main Characters at the Ranch-

              - Slim *Prince of the ranch!*
              - Carlson- Big meanie!
              - Candy- The workers friend who shares their dream
              - Curley- Likes to pick on Lennie, simply because he is big!
              - Curley's wife- No name, "She got the eye!" This one's trouble...
              -Crooks- Negro stable buck in which Steinbeck uses to convey his opinions into segregation at that time.

              The different people at the ranch each play a big importance to George&Lennie in different ways. The two boys start work on the ranch, mingling with different people and adjusting to their new life, once again. Lennie, as we find out at we progress into the novella is a little wound up, he gets angry and attached easily. Lennie shows that he has the mental ability of a child, accidentally killing animals (mice, puppies) and is easily attracted to things he wants to touch, could this be a danger?
              I think that Steinbeck uses an excellent basis for this book, getting the appropriate title from Robert Browings poem "The best laid schemes of mice and men" "Often go wrong" (If interested look up). He uses this mainly to say when you have planned a dream, it will nearly always be ruined. Significantly, it shows that in order to be a man you must prove yourself and stand up to your fears.

              The first event I feel is important in the novella is the fight between Curley and Lennie. The two collide violently and as you can tell, Lennie isn't one you want to fight with. Lennie cause significant damage to Curley's hand, although he didn't want to, Curley did start the fight. Lennie also accidentally killed one of Slim's pups. Lennie was very upset about doing this, but he didn't want George to find out because if he did "He wouldn't let me tend them rabbits :(". As we see in the novel Lennie has an obsession with rabbits and later in the novel he has a psychological episode which enables him to see a large, talking rabbit in the flesh. Lennie has a very important role in this novella as he signifies a less intelligent population. Then we have George, who opposes this completely.

              The two boys wind themselves up in some trouble, where George must prove his loyalty to Lennie and to his peers. I find it difficult to explain this chapter of the book as it makes me well up thinking about it. Steinbeck really has a gift for expressing emotions through language, really spine tingling thriller. Some would class this novella as a thriller although I think it partially is but I also think that it covers so many different themes, like comedy and love. In the novella you would assume that Lennie and George are related although they are not, although they are very close and Lennie is very dependant on George.

              Rating this book is a very easy decision as it really is a book that you can read time and time again, still drawind emotion even now I have read it loads!
              I definitely recommend this book to all who love to read books that draw emotions, this one's for you. I think that every person I've met that has read this book has thought the exact same thing.

              Pricing Details

              *- Amazon - £5.49 (The one I bought!)
              *Stores available in

              - Libraries
              - Waterstones
              Online in general- prices vary from £5- 45 (hardback)

              Five stars!

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                24.11.2010 00:02
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                This is certainly a book to read before you die.

                Of Mice and Men is an unusual, tragic novella by John Steinbeck which not only seized my thoughts, but captured the attention of my heart. It is, in my opinion, and unmissable read.

                It was inspired by the Scottish Poem 'To a Field Mouse' written by Robert Burns, which reads 'the best laid schemes of mice and men'. The poem tells the story of a farmer who ploughs through a mouse's nest. This inspired Steinbeck to write a novel with a similar underlying message; even if you mean no harm, you can still destroy someone else's future.

                Of Mice and Men tells the story of two workers, who travel together as friends, and look out for one another. George Milton is a small, perceptive man, who looks after and cares for an old friend, Lennie Small. Steinbeck ironically named Lennie, for Lennie is not small at all. He is a tall, muscular man, with great strength. However, he is mentally handicapped and therefore is dependent on George. I thought that the contrast between the two characters worked very well and at the start, it seemed as if Lennie is only a burden for George, but as the story unfolds, I soon realised that George needs Lennie, just as much as Lennie needs him.

                Throughout the book you are taken on a journey of the tragic life of George Milton and Lennie Small, and you will be gripped, just as I was, until the climatic and emotional ending, which I find is almost relieving.

                Despite it being only a short book, Steinbeck manages to create complex and interesting characters, some of whom he admits are based on real people. This book certainly made me think, and gave me a new perspective on life, as well as introducing new ideas on the way society undermines those who are seen as 'different'. Through George and Lennie, I found that Steinbeck shows an uncut, unedited, and in my opinion realistic, representation of life as a migrant worker, and the harsh realities of the world.

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                  04.08.2010 23:29
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                  If you are after a great classic that will thrill you cover to cover, get yourself a copy.

                  Many moons ago, I was sent off on my summer holiday with instructions to read Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck by my English teacher. At that point I suspected that this would be a boring old book where nothing much happened.

                  One of those feelings was true. The novel does not have wars or battles, is not set in the future or feature multiple locations from around the world. Its setting is staggeringly simple, yet profound. Throughout the length of this somewhat short piece, the concentration is almost entirely on the psychology of the main characters, their interaction with each other and others around them and the neverending symbolism throughout the book.

                  Incredibly complex subjects of life & death, human rights, criminology and the integration of disability into society are presented in bite size portions on a beautiful plate. Steinbeck captivates the reader from start to finish with a tale of contrasts and moral dilemmas. As the plot develops, so does the reader's understanding of the characters and the background story. Once you start reading, you will not put the book down until you get to the striking and one of the most unusual endings you can find in a novel of its type.

                  If you are looking for a summer holiday read and are interested in broadening your horizons, pick up a copy of 'Of Mice and Men' from your local library. You will not be disappointed.

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                    17.07.2010 18:58
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                    one of those must-read books

                    Despite having this book launched upon me to study at GCSE, I have to say I enjoy this book immensely. Steinbeck gives an interesting insight to the lonely lives of migrant agricultural workers.

                    The Plot-
                    We are introduced to two young men; George, a lean, quick-minded man who has learnt to be selfless, and Lennie, a large and insanely strong man who is a little 'soft in the head'. Lennie likes to pet soft things, like mice and rabbits, but sometimes he is too rough with them, a trait which led them to flee from their latest place of work.

                    This leads them onto a ranch near Soledad, where their reception is mixed; Candy, an old man with one hand, is very kind to them, and they find Slim, the skinner, amicable, but the boss' son, Curley, is another matter. As a proud man and a boxer, he takes an instant dislike to the strong Lennie; a classic case of small person syndrome.

                    George and Lennie have long been planning to buy their own place and 'live off the fatta the lan'', and, despite known of somewhere that is fairly cheap, this has always been more of a dream than an actuality, unless George could let his guard down and accept some help, but could their plans all be ruined by Curley, or his troublesome flirt of a wife, or perhaps Lennie's inability to control his strength?


                    It is an interesting book, you get to understand what such a lonely lifestyle can do to a man, George and Lennie are lucky to have each other, which must be why George never leaves his friend when he gets himself into trouble, but even so Lennie isn't a companion George would have chosen for himself; he feels the need to confide in Slim about him and Lennie, he has had to learn to be selfless while living with his friend.

                    Another theme in this book is not to judge a person by how they look; Lennie is big and strong, but just a child inside.

                    'Of Mice and Men' is good if you are looking for a light read, it is a short book and not heavy going, certainly a must-read.

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                      27.05.2010 22:49

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                      An excellent short story

                      Having studied 'of mice and men' in detail for my GCSE exams two years ago, I can happily rank it among my favorite short stories. The characters are convincing and well defined, and the plot never gets static. The story tells of two traveling workers, and companions, over several days. The books main characters, George, a small farmhand who tries to keep out of trouble, and Lennie; a large, simple friend of Georges, whom George looks after. These characters are pursuing their dream of owning a ranch, where they can finally leave in peace and where Lenny can be himself. The theme of loneliness is prominent, as in many of Steinbeck's books, as is that of hopelessness. I recommend this as a must for a lover of the short story, and it is a great read on a mid length train journey. This books wide availability also makes it easy to get hold of for a great price.

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                      22.02.2010 10:55
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                      Story of companionship and loss

                      I was first made to read this book when studying my GCSE for English literature. And to my surprise more than enjoyed it. The plot is fairly simple, happening over just a few days. It is a tale of two companions who go to work on a ranch and have a dream of making enough money to live on their own. George is a large, strong but very simple man and relies greatly on Lennie for getting him out of trouble (and he does get himself into a lot of trouble).

                      There are a lot of parallels in the book such as Lennie's death and the death of a very old dog belonging to to Candy. The book is themed on loneliness; each character is very lonely and trying to find companionship. The dramatic ending happens in a few pages which effectively close the book and bring a tear to your eye.

                      This is a powerful read which starts slowly and very detailed but grips you with the warm hearts of the characters.

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                        28.01.2010 13:56
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                        Very moving

                        Of Mice and Men was written in the late 1930s, while the Depression still had America in its grasp. This novel revolves around the difficult life of migrant workers during this time - Lenny, a hulking, dim man, and George, a slight, if more clever man who takes care of him - who attempt to make a better life for themselves.

                        The two men want to cultivate their own farm and live prosperously off of it, while balancing their more apparent aspirations - that George wants to work to be able to protect Lenny, while Lenny just wants to work with animals - yet Steinbeck never escapes the tragic finality that in spite of even the most steadfast determination, the Dust Bowl is a transformative, all-encompassing force that cannot be escaped. Steinbeck also manages to brilliantly capture the wider context of the Depression, and we get numerous glimpses at other workers, disadvantaged either by physical injury while working, or spiritual decline through their lack of an olive branch.

                        It's safe to say that you'll probably see the ending coming, but then Steinbeck isn't especially interested in throwing you a curveball just for the sake of being "shocking", as so many modern authors are inclined to do. Once Lenny eyes up the overly flirty wife of their boss's son, it's clear where things are going, but we can only read on frantically as it all hurtles towards a shattering climax.

                        Though an examination of the Dust Bowl, it is also a robust, character-driven story that's one of the true great novels, never conceding to cloying sentiment, and never escaping the desperation of the time. Although we are never likely to endure such circumstances, it fails to reduce just how powerful and moving this work of art is.

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                        25.01.2010 14:14
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                        All in all really good novel.

                        Of Mice and Men is a truly heart-warming tale of two friends, Lennie and George written by John Steinbeck. I had to read this book for English at college and I have to admit I was not looking forward to it, but once I started to read it I couldn't put it down.

                        The novel is set in the 1920's around the great depression and has many different themes, not only does Steinbeck tell you the story he gives you an insight to how people were treated in that era. It is a comedy, thriller and drama all wrapped into one short story. One moment you will be in stitches the next tears will be streaming.

                        Steinbeck has written the novel brilliantly and its very involving, a film was also released but I found the novel to be so much more engaging. Its not a book I would normally choose to read and some of the wording can take a while to get used to as some is written in slang but other than that it's a great read.

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                          05.01.2010 23:48
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                          Highly recommended.

                          I have always believed that good things come in small packages and this is certainly true of Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men'.

                          I studied this text at school and absolutely fell in love with it. Having recently reread it I thought it might be interesting to organise my thoughts and review it.

                          ***Plot***

                          The story is centred around two migrant ranch works, George Milton and Lennie Small, set in the time of the Great Depression. George, a quick witted man, takes on the role of protector/parent for Lennie, who, despite the surname, is of immense size but limited mental ability. Both men share a dream to one day save up enough money to settle down with their own piece of land.

                          Lennie is particularly intent on this as he wishes to be able to tend to soft rabbits on the farm. Lennie has a certain fixation on touching soft things, this tendancy is harmless but due to Lennie's size can cause trouble for the pair. When we meet George and Lennie they are on the road after Lennie is accused of a crime in the town of Weed where they were working previously.

                          The story evolves on a farm in Soledad, CA where the pair find work "bucking barley".

                          ***Characters***

                          I small cast of characters surround George and Lennie throughout the story. Steinbeck's placement and development of characters in the story are part of what makes the book such a joy to read. I personally feel that many of them represent some of the main themes that Steinbeck is trying to convey to the reader about that period of time.

                          Candy - An elderly ranch worker who has one hand missing from an accident. This disability means he is becoming less useful on the farm.

                          Curley - Son of the boss, he is disliked by many of the ranch workers. He immediately takes a dislike to Lennie. As a former boxer some of the ranch workers describe him as "handy". He is very jealous and protective of his wife.

                          Curley's wife - Pretty and young, she is mistrusted greatly by her husband and spends her time flirting with the ranch workers. We are never told her name.

                          Slim - One of the senior members of the team. He is a solid man and greatly respected by others.

                          Crook - The only black ranch hand. He is crippled after being kicked by a horse. He sleeps seperately from the rest of the ranch hands.

                          ***Themes***

                          I felt a lot of characters embodied the main themes I seemed to draw from the book. Steinbeck's writing is concise and well thought out. I found his simplistic style of writing to give the story a very pure, genuine feel. I found it easy to connect with the characters and somewhat identify with the issues they embraced.

                          1. The American Dream

                          No two characters embody this ideal more than George and Lennie. George in particular craves independence. He wants to own his own land, be his own boss and be 'somebody'. I feel that Steinbeck gives life to George by the fact that he is such a sharp, intelligent man. As a reader I felt that George was so close, the dream was in arms reach, and I was willing him on throughout the book to achieve his dream.

                          Lennie's dream is more simplistic and, I believe, influenced slightly by George. Yes, he wants his independence but does he really know what that means? More than anything Lennie wants to pet small, soft rabbits. This may be different to George's aspirations but I felt that they just wanted different degrees of the same thing - to be able to decide for themselves and not be swept away down a path they never chose purely by circumstance.

                          Some of the smaller characters also embody this dream. Curley's wife for example talks about dreams of being an actress and Crook expresses a wish to feel respected and secure.

                          2. Loneliness

                          I felt a huge tug of sympathy for Candy whilst reading the book. His missing hand renders him almost useless which is sad enough. He has a dog as a companion that he cares for greatly but the dog is old and lame but it is plain to see his reluctance to accept the dog is coming to the end of his days.

                          More than anyone, his loneliness is palpable. I think this is further confirmed by his eagerness to get in with George and Lennie to buy a piece of land for themselves. He realises that he will not be able to work for much longer and wants to secure himself a comfortable, secure future.

                          The relationship between George and Lennie is to some part George feeling responsbile for Lennie, but I think it is also to stave off the loneliness of their lifestyle.

                          Curley's wife is another character suffering from feeling lonely. She is married to a man she doesn't feel she receives enough attention from so she seeks it by shamelessly flirting with the other ranch hands.

                          - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                          Overall, I thoroughly enjoy stepping into Steinbecks world. The story itself is based largely on his own experiences as a ranch hand. I do believe that Lennie is actually based on a real person that Steinbeck worked with. I cannot remember exactly where I head this but I shall update the review if I can find it.

                          The book is certainly worth reading and if you are interested in seeing the story played out there is a film starring Gary Sinise as George and John Malkovich as Lennie which is very good.

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                            29.12.2009 15:55
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                            A very interesting book that I would highly recommend

                            ~~~Introduction~~~

                            Of Mice and Men was first published in 1937 and written by the Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck about life for ranch workers during the Great Depression. It is one of Steinbeck's most well known books and is a deeply emotional read which tries to educate readers about the effects of the Great Depression on common people.

                            ~~Characters~~

                            Lennie- A mentally child-like man with immense strength who does not comprehend his own power leading to eventually fatal consequences. He travels with George who is his protector and the one who Lennie looks up to and tries to be like.

                            George- Looks after Lennie because he knew his Aunt Clara and promised to. Although he dreams of what he could do without the burden of Lennie being pressed upon him he enjoys the company that Lennie brings him which means that he is not alone like all of the other ranch workers.

                            Candy- An old man who has been crippled by an accident on the ranch and now does menial jobs there to earn a living and he dreams of a better life but originally does not do anything to make his dream true.

                            Curley- A small arrogant man who hates big men and so likes to prove that he is not any less strong than them by beating them up. He does not truly love his wife and merely married her for sex. He is the son of the boss and so uses his power to belittle the ranch hands.

                            Curley's wife- A lonely depressed woman who is innocent at heart but tries to get company and somebody to talk to by acting in a sexual manner. She does not understand that this makes the men wary of her and the trouble they would get in if anything happened. She is somewhat naive believing that she could have become a Hollywood actor but for her mother who she believes prevented her from achieving her goals. She only married Curley to spite her mother and now regrets her decision and is bitter at her new life.

                            Slim- A God-like figure to the ranch hands, he seems to know how to deal with everything and everybody on the ranch, including Curley, look up to him to take charge in tense situations.

                            Carlson- A man who seems to feel who compassion for other human being due to his separation from a companionship like the one George and Lennie have. He is a typical ranch worker and seems to take delight at the excitement that violence on the ranch creates even at the expense of people he worked with.

                            Crooks- The only black person on the ranch who is separated from all of the other workers and is bitter at the loss of his family ranch when he was young. His disability and skin colour means that he is very lonely ad has friends and he has almost no hopes of things getting better for him.

                            ~~Plot~~

                            Lennie and George begin the story going to a new ranch where they can find work near Salinas in California because Lennie has been accused of rape (mistakenly) in the place where they last worked. They dream of owning their own ranch where they will be able to grow all of their own food and Lennie, in particular, wants to be able to tend the rabbits that they hope they will own. Although they come close to their dream Lennie's inability to know his own strength kills their dream forever and all the characters who had believed in them are forced to continue with the soul-wearying toil of work on the ranch.

                            ~~Themes explored (spoilers)~~

                            #How small things are always crushed by something bigger that they do not fully understand#

                            When Lennie kills Curley's Wife by accident he unknowingly crushes the hopes that the dream of owning a ranch will come true. In descriptions Steinbeck describes how eels are swimming along peacefully but are eaten by a heron who is in turn scared away by Lennie and this demonstrates the above theme. All of the events that occur in the book are the result of the economic Depression in America that none of the characters can do anything about.

                            #Loneliness and what it causes#

                            The lack of compassion shown by Carlson when he gets his gun to kill Lennie and when he dismisses Candy's love for his dog as nothing due to his isolation from human emotions felt show the detrimental effects of this theme. The loneliness felt by Crooks crushes any hopes he has of escaping the cruel life on the ranch and leaves him cynical and defeated. Curley's wife's loneliness eventually leads to her death while attempting to find someone to talk with.

                            #Discrimination#

                            The fact that Curley's wife is never given a name shows how little American society regards women. In the book the belief that things that cannot do anything useful should not have resources wasted on them leads to Candy's dog being killed and his isolation due to his disability. Also there is the racism that leads to the isolation of Crooks and his eventual cynicism and regret.

                            ~~Conclusion~~

                            This book is a deeply emotional read and I would encourage anybody to read this book to read about the dangers of the themes presented by it and to improve their understanding of societies in general. Don't be a Mouse read this book!

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                              06.11.2009 16:51
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                              Never forgotten

                              I studied this at school and university and it is a book I come back to year upon year. The overall premise of the novella is that no matter how much one plans, hopes an dreams, sometimes fate is against us. Using a line from a Robert Burn's poem, Steinbeck uses the image of mice and men being two entirely different creatures in terms of size and strength, however, they are actually similar in terms of wanting a life which is comfortable and full of promise. This is the case for George and Lennie, the two protagonists who have the urge for attaining the 'dream' and throughout the course of the novella, Steinbeck really drives home questions of the 'attainability' of this dream. Through effective characterisation and themes as relevant in now as they were in 1937, Steinbeck has created a classic novel so imbedded in pop culture. If you are looking for something to read in one day and one which reveals life in all its harsh reality, then look no further than "Of Mice and Men".

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