Title: Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck is the kind of book that reveals the true nature of man.
Of Mice and Men is the story of two alienated men who work as farm labourers, drifting from job to job in California. Lennie is a gentle giant (who is a little slow). George guides and protects him and depends on him for companionship. They dream of owning a farm one day and tend rabbits. This however is not meant to be. They arrive at a new farm; work with new people, make friends, till the owner’s son’s Curley’s wife ruins it all for them.
The title of the book is from a poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”, which goes: “The best laid schemes of mice and men,/ go often awry,/ and leave us nothing/ but grief and pain,/ for promised joy!” Steinbeck draws on these lines in the book very subtly, making sure that the plans do not go as they dreamt of, because after all that is the story.
I’ve never wanted a book to spontaneously change endings so badly. I yearn for that little place as much as they do. I wanted them to have it desperately. Proof the incredibly sad ending isn’t hopeless is that on a reread I could still hope it would end differently. Oh, it does happen, loneliness and cruelty and mass mob hating mentality. The possibility that it won’t, that people might come through, is still a chance. Otherwise why bother reading a book such as this one.
Lennie dying alone like a dog, haunts me. The dying with honor issue I’ve read about in other stuff isn’t an issue with me. Dignity, yes, because in this case the dying was robbing his life of dignity. Lennie had precious little of it as it was. I know that in those times that kind of thing was not unheard of (or much later than that). Still, depressing as shit. Maybe those kinds of hateful things make some kind of a stain on the atmosphere, like a ghost. (If ghosts exist, I imagine they’d come out of something like that. Why are ghosts usually from like Colonial usa or Civil War times? Not the 1970s?) So the dying and the living are the same as both are long over. It should never have to be that way.
Steinbeck depicts the impossibility of dreams being achieved and explores brotherhoods in humans – the strengths, the weakness in man and sometimes the angst. It truly reveals what men are really like; men shattering other people’s dreams for their own good. Of Mice and Men is a classic in every sense that should not be missed.