Newest Review: ... brought to clear distinction by Steinbeck. They encounter the obnoxious Curly, the boss's son, his seductive wife, the cool and calm Slim... more
"To A Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough"
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Member Name: onlyliana
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Advantages: Beautiful short story.
Disadvantages: It will make you cry
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Summary: Highly recommended.