Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: Historical-Fiction, Classics, American-Literature
Publication Date: 8th January 2002 by Penguin Australia
Format Read: Paperback, 87 pages
Synopsis: “The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength.” (Taken from Goodreads)
My boyfriend had been asking me to read this book for the longest time – it’s one of his favourite books and the only book he would reread yearly. And now, I understand his love for it.
As you can tell, I don’t read a lot of classics although I’ve always been meaning to. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the classics that I have read in the past, but I really need to be in the right mood to sit down and enjoy it completely. I think it was a part of the conditioning we had towards these books back in highschool. Classics would always be something that you were forced to read, and it’s hard to break out of that mentality, even though I know I will enjoy a lot of them.
Of Mice and Men is a short novel, and the second short novel that I read and loved in 2013. It never ceases to amaze me how poignant some writing can be, especially when it’s down in less than 100 pages. I truly admire the authors that are able to move me to tears in such a short amount of pages, and be able to tell their story without burdening it with unnecessary plots that play no part to their novel.
Of Mice and Men is the story of two migrant workers, where one of them is a big grown man that has the mentality of a child. Ironically this man is called Lennie Small although his figure suggests otherwise. But on the other hand, his last name could be referring to his small minded mentality. George, who is Lennie’s partner and looks after him like a father figure is a completely normal man, a big contrast to the person Lennie is portrayed as. Although they’re both such different people, they manage to exist alongside each other due to their immense bond, having grown up in the same town. Both men share the dream to one day own their own farm, and not have to adhere to the constraints of the average migrant worker during that time. What gets Lennie through the day is his dream to one day be able to own and take care of his own rabbits.
At the opening of the novel, we are thrown right into the story with George and Lennie, who are fleeing from their old job due to a misunderstanding between Lennie and a girl. As a man that has the mentality of a child, Lennie finds it hard to understand why some of his actions could be taken in the wrong way by others. Like a child, he fails to understand about repercussions, and this is made harder by the fact that he is not a child anymore and that he is structurally a big guy.
One of the biggest things I loved about the novel was the dynamic shared between Lennie and George. While I can tell that George finds Lennie and his behaviour insufferable at times, he never seems to give up on his friend. He knows it’s always a matter of time before Lennie does something wrong, but from the very beginning, George has a backup plan and never intends to leave Lennie behind. While they may not be on equal footing when it comes to their psychology, the relationship between the two characters was ironclad. Even till the very end, George wanted to do the right thing but with Lennie’s happiness in mind.
Suffice to say, while the plot isn’t anything spectacular, this is a novel where you read and fall in love with the characters. There’s a lot of lessons to be learnt in Of Mice and Men, and it’s amazing that Steinbeck managed to write something so deeply moving in such a short amount of space. This story has touched my heart deeply and I will admit to bawling my eyes out by the end of it. I wasn’t able to pick up another book for a few days because I was so upset about the ending. It just goes to show how brilliant this book really is – it stays on your mind days after you’ve finished it.
I highly recommend everyone to read this even if you’re not a fan of American literature or historical fiction. It’s messages will do the talking and I’m sure you’ll find yourself ensnared as much as I was!