Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. 1993. First published in 1937.
Genre: Fiction. American literature. Classic literature.
Pages: 112 printed pages.
Audience: Readers of young adult through adult. Readers of American literature.
Link for the book @ Amazon.
Further links on John Steinbeck.
- The 15 Best John Steinbeck Books Everyone Should Read, from Reedsy Discovery.
- The Steinbeck Institute.
- Nobel Prize.
- Book Analysis. This site is heavy with pop-ups and ads.
The time period is the Great Depression, the 1930s.
Two men are traveling together to work at a new job as laborers on a farm. They are in California, on the valley side of the Salinas River.
The men are George and Lennie. George is a small man. Lennie is a large man.
They stop beside a green pool to take a drink. They are hot from the walk. They’d rode a bus to a certain point and must walk the rest of the way.
While beside the green pool they have a conversation that they have had other times. So many times, George is tired of it.
George reminds Lennie often of staying quiet at the jobs. Don’t say anything. Stay out of trouble. If he gets in trouble, George will find Lennie.
Trouble seems to find Lennie.
It is never fully explained, but Lennie has an intellectual disability (I think.) George, at some point in the past, became a caregiver of Lennie. This caregiving role is stressful.
George feels responsible for Lennie. He looks after him.
At the new job, trouble erupts.
I first read Of Mice and Men in the 10th grade. When I began reading it yesterday, I remembered a little about the storyline.
It is a novella. A short story. A sad story. A story that makes an impact. It is a story that I had to remind myself that these people don’t think like me, and they don’t live in the society and culture I live in. For example, animal abuse is never okay. To abuse another person because of their skin tone or intellectual ability or income level is never okay.
And a big question that is gnawing at me. What can be done in response to a person (the daughter-in-law of the boss) who is sexually suggestive, lonely, and will not stop bothering the working men in the bunkhouse? My first thought is “Run Forest, Run!” However, these men need the job. They need to work. The situation is precarious.
As an adult, I understand so much more about this story. I picked up on things (aha moments.) For example, Curley is the adult son of the boss of the farm. However, throughout the story his main task is looking for his wife. He walks into the bunkhouse, “have you seen my wife?” The situation is pitiful. Is his wife bored? Lonely? Does she have unmet needs or expectations? Why did she marry Curley? Doesn’t she have farm wife things to do? Taking care of a farm is hard work. Being a farm wife is hard work.
Another question I have: George knows Lennie is strong and can hurt someone or kill them. Why did he command Lennie to respond with violence? Did George regret this action? Is this why the book ended as it did?
Lennie at some point, knows good from bad. What is going on with him that he knows the bad only after it happens?
Of Mice and Men is a book that encourages discussion. But as a kid, I don’t remember conversation in class about the story except from the teacher.
I love, love, love, the setting of scenes which includes more than just descriptions for the reader’s sake, it is the setting of the tone and mood or a pulling away from the dire situation to a place of calmness (for example pages 92-93.) Steinbeck’s descriptions, even of a barn is brilliant.
It is a story with strong inward and outward conflicts.
Some themes in the story: dreams, self-control, grief, justice, injustice, hope, tolerance, deception, shame, sacrifice, suffering, and judgment.