PAPERBACK; 320 P. PENGUIN, BOOKS, 2007/1937 SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY
Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they’ll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn’t know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss’s daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him…
Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is a quick read, but once it gets into your system, it stays. The symbolism and parallelism of the narration create a multilayered story and set a very thought-provoking picture of America in the 1930s.
The story of Of Mice and Men begins with the arrival of our two main characters, George and Lennie. They are both travelling workmen who work in farms and ranches, dreaming that one day they’ll have a land of their own with a nice little house. The two main characters contrast each other: George is the small, clever, and rational one whereas Lennie is big and gentle, but also slightly dumb and prone to be influenced by his emotions. Unlike most drifters, George and Lennie travel together. In the beginning of the book, they are contracted to work on a ranch in a valley of California. At the ranch they meet other drifters, from different backgrounds and with differing personalities, the boss’ son with a bit of a Napoleon complex, and the wife of said son, who yearns for a different life. The ranch comes to stand as a sort of depiction of society with its power hierarchies and the struggles of the individual.
I very much enjoyed reading Of Mice and Men, but I cannot say that I was immediately blown away by it. I didn’t particularly connect with any of the characters, although the pain and hope that stemmed from them was very tangible. The shortness of the novel is in my eyes both a weakness and a strength: Immediately after finishing the book, I wished that it had been longer so that the characters could have been fleshed out. However, thinking it through, I now understand how minutely Steinbeck manages to breathe life into characters in such a short space. The allegories in the writing are strong and Steinbeck has a very particular view of the American dream and how there is this struggle between rational self and emotional self. I’d definitely recommend Of Mice and Men if you haven’t yet read it because of how it depicts the American dream, loneliness, and the struggle and yearning for something better.
Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. 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.