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Of Mice and Men cover

A John Steinbeck novella written in 1937.

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Perhaps this is where we get the saying "He bought the farm"

  • Jun 17, 2010
Rating:
+3

As a perpetual student of history and sociology, I felt it was my duty to read this book. Steinbecks novel detail the life of two migrant workers in the early 1900's.  Far from the hills of Hollywood, the shores of Orange County, the bay of San Francisco, even the mighty red woods, the book takes place on a farm in Salinas California. Even in the 1980's, if you blinked you might miss this little town, especially if you are not aware of Steinbeck, and the fact that he was from Salinas.

**Begin Spoiler Alert**
This book is an emotional journey through a part of time that still exists for many migrant workers and people that are rejected by society, especially if they are misunderstood or not what society considers "the norm".  I had to read the book to a student, and at one part I was emotionally overtaken with the grief of the situation of Lenny. You see George and Lenny are an odd pair for any time. George is a small, unattached man taking care of the hulking Lenny, who has the IQ of a child. 

The book starts with George and Lenny walking. They have been dropped off by a bus at a point before their destination. Because they are barely eeking a living of the meager wages they make, this short night of freedom near a beautiful stream is a piece of heaven for the two, before it is back to a ranch to work for a new ranch owner.

While George is a compassionette caregiver for Lenny, he is still not quite what a parent would be. Because he does not look after Lenny continuously, Lenny tends to get into trouble.  For example, George asks Lenny what he has, and Lenny finally reveals a dead mouse. Lenny just wanted to play with it, but his strength overpowers the tiny thing and it dies. This is a common event throughout the book. 

George has his own demons to fight, as he is more than willing to accompany the rest of the men on outings to the saloon, and the places with woman that will keep him good company, for a price.  These times of absence are all the opportunity that Lenny needs to get himself into trouble.

The title of the book actually harkens back to a poem by  Robert Burns. In the poem the writer speaks of overturning a mouses home as he plows. As he ponders the action, apologizing to the hapless creature, he also ponders how the very best plans of men, too, become torn asunder do to the may circumstances beyond our control.

This is clearly illustrated in the book by the fact that things come up even though George and Lenny seem to have a clear cut plan of action. While it is sad to see the hopes and dreams torn from the characters of the story, it is a good reality call for people that have forgotten that mice, nor men, are ever in control.

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More Of Mice and Men reviews
review by . June 30, 2010
Of Mice and Men is often required reading in many high schools and it is held in high regard for good reason. It stands among the best of Steinbeck's work and is also one of the best novellas around.       Though a short story it manages to tell a compelling tale of two men - George and Lenny - during the Great Depression on the west coast of America (eagle eyed Steinbeck fans will recognise that this is a common theme among many of his works) simply trying to find …
Quick Tip by . April 17, 2011
Good things come in small packages!  This book is a timeless classic. Considering the time it was written, and the fact that it covers class structure, euthanasia, the plight of the mentally challenged, prejudice, and roils all of them into a poignant and compelling story in such a tightly written package has never ceased to amaze me.
review by . September 13, 2010
George and Lennie are two itinerant farm workers moving from one California farm to another. The two of them move together in order to avoid the loneliness and misery that usually accompanies nomads. Lennie is an incredibly strong and hard worker who has a mind of a child. Unfortunately for him, his strength and child-like instincts oftentimes get him in trouble. George has known Lennie since he was just a kid, and is the brains behind this unlikely duo. George dreams of a bigger life for the two …
review by . August 03, 2010
A disappointing classic. And not just because of the outcome.       Set during the Great Depression/post-great depression era, the novel tracks the lives of two migrant workers. Lennie has a mental disability, but ungodly strength, which makes him priceless to many farmers. Unable to navigate the hiring process and daily living without assistance, George has taken Lennie under his wing and posses as his guardian. The two have a dream of one day purchasing their own land. …
Quick Tip by . October 08, 2010
For all its simplicity and brevity, the power and pathos of the themes of helplessness and loneliness embodied in Steinbeck's story about George and Lennie, two itinerant field workers in 1930s depression era California, are not to be denied.
review by . August 19, 2010
George and Lennie are two itinerant farm workers moving from one California farm to another. The two of them move together in order to avoid the loneliness and misery that usually accompanies nomads. Lennie is an incredibly strong and hard worker who has a mind of a child. Unfortunately for him, his strength and child-like instincts oftentimes get him in trouble. George has known Lennie since he was just a kid, and is the brains behind this unlikely duo. George dreams of a bigger life for the two …
review by . August 19, 2010
George and Lennie are two itinerant farm workers moving from one California farm to another. The two of them move together in order to avoid the loneliness and misery that usually accompanies nomads. Lennie is an incredibly strong and hard worker who has a mind of a child. Unfortunately for him, his strength and child-like instincts oftentimes get him in trouble. George has known Lennie since he was just a kid, and is the brains behind this unlikely duo. George dreams of a bigger life for the two …
review by . August 19, 2010
George and Lennie are two itinerant farm workers moving from one California farm to another. The two of them move together in order to avoid the loneliness and misery that usually accompanies nomads. Lennie is an incredibly strong and hard worker who has a mind of a child. Unfortunately for him, his strength and child-like instincts oftentimes get him in trouble. George has known Lennie since he was just a kid, and is the brains behind this unlikely duo. George dreams of a bigger life for the two …
review by . August 19, 2010
George and Lennie are two itinerant farm workers moving from one California farm to another. The two of them move together in order to avoid the loneliness and misery that usually accompanies nomads. Lennie is an incredibly strong and hard worker who has a mind of a child. Unfortunately for him, his strength and child-like instincts oftentimes get him in trouble. George has known Lennie since he was just a kid, and is the brains behind this unlikely duo. George dreams of a bigger life for the two …
review by . July 29, 2010
I really enjoyed this book, it starts of with George and Lennie looking for work, getting a bus out of a town but the bus doesn't go all the way, and drops them of on a road, their walking down a road, and Lennie ends up killing a mouse he has been petting. George asks Lennie to get rid of the mouse but Lennie doesn't want to. George and Lennie get to the ranch that they have heard there is work at. George and Lennie meet some ranch workers Candy, Slim, Crooks and Whit and the ranch owners …
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Wiki

Of Mice and Men was written by John Steinbeck in 1937. The story takes place during the Great Depression in California and tells the tale of two displaced ranch workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, who aspire to own and tend to their own piece of land. Milton, a protagonist, looks after Small (also a protagonist) who suffers from a mental disability. Small's desires to touch "soft things" leads to his accidental killing of small animals and eventually the wife of an important townsman. Before an angry mob led by the deceased wife's husband reaches Small to kill him, Milton shoots Small in the back of his head to prevent his lynching by the townsmen.

Like many other Steinbeck books, Of Mice and Men explores dreams, loneliness, unfortunate economic circumstances, and fate. Because of the book's themes, graphic scenes, and use of vulgar language, it has been banned from many American schools. However, at the time of its writing, the book received high acclaim and has since been adapted into films numerous times.
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Details

Author: John Steinbeck
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Covici Friede
Date Published: 1937
ISBN: 0-14-017739-6
Format: Novella
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