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.
I had read Steinbeck in both high school and university–though to say I actually “read” him in high school would be a mistake. I had to read The Grapes of Wrath and write a paper about it. I found the book to be so boring that I couldn’t even make it past the first few pages without falling asleep. When university came, I had to read Of Mice and Men for one of my courses. Feeling a little leery about reading more Steinbeck, I was reassured by its short length.
I picked it up recently because of its volume and portability. It was a quick read, but with so many messages within. In fact, it was quite a depressing read, but the way that Steinbeck puts his stories together, it’s hard not to be taken with the beautiful descriptions and the flowing dialogue.
One of the themes of this book is most definitely innocence. We see it in Lenny and we see it in the old dog. With Lenny’s innocence, it’s easy to enjoy the banter and friendship between him and George. The imagery that Steinbeck conjures is so great that the whole story will stick with you. The comparison between Lenny and the old dog are both tragic and horrifying. Just like the old dog having to rely on his master to get through each day, Lenny has to rely on George. He can’t be blamed for the crimes that he does, yet others just can’t see it that way.
This really is a book that should be read more in schools–it’s a real eye-opener. Touching, sad, and timeless, Of Mice and Men is a classic that should be read in every generation.
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