Of Mice and Men

ISBN: 0553209450
ISBN 13: 9780553209457
By: John Steinbeck

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About this book

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.

Reader's Thoughts

Andy

It's the way Steinbeck describes things that gets me."Crooks, the negro stable buck, had his bunk in the harness room; a little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn. On one side of the little room there was a square four-paned window, and on the other, a narrow plank door leading into the barn. Crooks' bunk was a long box filled with straw, on which his blankets were flung. On the wall by the window there were pegs on which hung broken harness in process of being mended; strips of new leather; and under the window itself a little bench for leather-working tools, curved knives and needles and balls of linen thread, and a small hand riveter. On pegs were also pieces of harness, a split collar with the horsehair stuffing sticking out, a broken hame, and a trace chain with its leather covering split. Crooks had his apple box over his bunk, and in it a range of medicine bottles, both for himself and for the horses. There were cans of saddle soap and a drippy can of tar with its paint brush sticking over the edge. And scattered about the floor were a number of personal possessions; for, being alone, Crooks could leave his things about, ad being a stable buck and a cripple, he was more permanent than the other men, and he had accumulated more possessions than he could carry on his back."None of this is relevant to the story, and yet a middle chapter opens up with this vivid scene. Steinbeck succeeds because the characters he paints in your head are exact. The first time I saw the movie that was made out of this story, it was just as I had envisioned it. Though the story great itself, the reason I will come back to this book is for the little things, the very things that have made me love Steinbeck so much. I first read Of Mice And Men my sophomore year of high school, when it was a required reading in Mrs. Beeler's class. I recall disliking almost all required school readings up to this point (though admittedly I had skipped out on the summer reading project of "The Grapes Of Wrath"). When this book was assigned, I knew it was different. I blew through it, reading it in a day or two, even though I wasn't supposed to. For once there was a school book that I enjoyed. And all the credit in the world to my teacher, who chose other good books the rest of the year. So it's been 6-7 years since I've read this, and now, reading it for the second time, it's just as memorable as I remember. The story sticks with you, the imagery sticks. The characters are among Steinbeck's best, painted in such a crystal clear vision of the time.It's a near perfect short story, and one that I will surely revisit throughout my life.

Paul

The title of this novel is only 50% accurate, a very poor effort. Yes, it’s about men, but there’s little or nothing about mice in these pages. Mice enthusiasts will come away disappointed. This got me thinking about other novel titles. You would have to say that such books as The Slap, The Help, The Great Gatsby, Gangsta Granny, Mrs Dalloway and Hamlet have very good titles because they are all about a slap, some help, a Gatsby who was really great, a no good granny, a woman who was married to a guy called Dalloway and a Hamlet. I have no problem with those titles. But you may be poring over the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird for a long fruitless evening to find any mockingbirds coming to any harm at all. Indeed, to coin a phrase, no mockingbirds were harmed during the making of that book. So I rate that title only 5% accurate. And some titles seem to have a word missing, such as Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four. Four what? It doesn’t say. Perhaps he completed the book and left the title to the very last minute and died as he was writing it down. Same thing with The Crimson Petal and the White. White what? Wallpaper? Hat? Cat? Mouse? Mockingbird? Could be The Crimson Petal and the White Gangsta Granny for all we know. A poor title. And what about The Dharma Bums? I think a Cigarette or You Out is clearly missing from that title. Another grossly misleading title is Women in Love . I can’t be the only reader who was expecting some strong girl on girl action from DH Lawrence but I would have been better off fast-forwarding to the middle part of Mulholland Drive. Now that’s what I call Women in Love. DH, take note. Another badly chosen title is Hitler’s Niece - yes, it is 100% accurate, but at first glance it can look like Hitler’s Nice, and surely that is going to put off a lot of potential readers (except for the readers you really don’t want). And what about Call it Sleep? – call what sleep? The Catcher in the Rye, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Flaubert’s Parrot, The Camomile Lawn – sometimes obscure titles can be solved if you understand that the author is referring to Death, so, the Catcher is Death, the Postman is Death, the lawn is Death and the Parrot is Death. Of course, I may have got that wrong. It’s something I read somewhere and it just stuck in my mind. Some other titles I would give low ratings to :The Turn of the Screw completely baffled me – I know that “screw” is what inmates call prison officers, so I was expecting a story about a concert put on by the staff of a large correctional institution. It was nothing like that. The Little Prince according to my system does rate 100% but I still think The Little Faux-naif Idiot would have been better.The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – actually, I rate this as 90% accurate – there are two guys who are named Kavalier and Clay, and they do have adventures, but they aren’t amazing. A Clockwork Orange – this must be a metaphor for “I have given up thinking of a title for my novel”No Name – like A Clockwork Orange this must be where the author couldn’t think of any title so in this case he left it without one, like the Byrds’ album Untitled, or () by Sigur Ros, or several paintings by De Kooning and those other abstract expressionist types; but to call a novel No Name is self-defeating, because No Name then becomes its name – epic fail, Mr Collins.The Violent Bear it Away - this is another example of a word missing - possibly "took" or "dragged", I expect that's the sort of thing a violent bear would do I’m surprised the publisher did not catch this error.

Nathan

"A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. It don't make no difference who the guy is, long as he's with ya'. I tell ya', a guy gets too lonely, and he gets sick." I first read Of Mice and Men at an age when I was learning to read. Not phonetically, but critically. This novel taught me what good literature could be, and it is one of a handful of novels that I measure all other novels by. As a result, I have turned into someone who can read five to ten nonfiction books in a month but read only one or two fiction books in any given year. This is what good literature should be. The essence of the story - loneliness and man's desperate need for friendship - is a story that never ages, never tires, and only seems trite to those too self-centered to ever realize how lonely they really are. Yes, it is sad and almost dooming in places. But it is also touching, true and timeless. The quote at the start of this review is as potent now as it was then; and its sentiment is timeless enough that it even showed up in 2006 on TV's Lost, word-for-word, as part of banter between two essential characters. "Don't you read?" Ben asked Sawyer. Even on an Island in the middle of nowhere, with others out to kidnap you and magic monsters made of trees and nightmares trying to kill you, reading Of Mice and Men is still important in a functional society.NC

Ellie

Of Mice and Men is truly beautiful piece of literature that seems so simple, yet so incredibly complex. Set during the American Great Depression in the 1930's, it is the story of two friends, George and Lennie, who wander from town to town looking for work to earn money to buy their own land. The one snag in this plan is Lennie, a strong giant of a man with the mind of a young child who, although full of good intentions, finds himself getting into trouble at every stop. Lennie is unable to think for himself and relies completely on the guidance of George to get him through everyday life. The ending is so swift yet so incredibly moving, that I cried while reading the last few pages. (view spoiler)[My heart broke for George at the end of the novel. I really felt sorry for him – he lost everything, his friend and his hope and his dream for the future. And Lennie, it was sad that he died but at least it was someone who cared about him and someone who was trying to help him who killed him. It would have been much worse if Curley or Carlson had killed him because they wouldn't have let him die so happy without him knowing what was going to happen to him. (hide spoiler)]This will be one book that I will always remember reading. Five stars! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Andrew Kubasek

There are few books which reduce me to emotional breakdown, but this is one of them. Revealing the darker side of compassion, Steinbeck tells the story of two friends and what happens when one of them "does a bad thing." Has this novel become over-taught in high schools? Definitely - and people's perception of the novel suffers because of it. People have to want to read this book because nobody wants such a harsh, violent story placed upon them as an obligation to read.This is a very different "American Dream" story than what most people think of (which is usually "The Great Gatsby"). It is about turn-of-the-century working men, who live week-to-week and month-to-month, always building better lives in their heads than can ever be built by their work. It about trying to get ahead, but always having a handicap - brutality (Lennie), being crippled (Candy), being unwanted (Crooks), or having to take care of someone else (George). It is about young men and their dreams, and old men and their dogs, and the dream that all Americans carry of running away and living off the fat of the land.

Jeniffer Almonte

"Of Mice and Men" is so widely read since it's required at most schools. But I hope that doesn't mean we take it for granted. On this re-reading one of the elements I gained was the character of Crooks, the clever black stable hand languishing with loneliness. I also saw Curley's wife in a different light-- one that understood how her loneliness guided her relationship with the men. And there's Candy, lonely for his smelly old dog, wanting to be part of George and Lennie's piece of paradise, wanting to go to the circus or a baseball game if he ever did feel like it.At that time that I read this when I was 11, I guess none of them made much of an impression. I saw only Lennie and the innocence of his dreams. And I thought that was the point. On this second reading, I realized that almost everyone had innocent dreams and maybe THAT was the point. Because George too, has innocent dreams, even though he should know better (having manufactured those dreams for Lennie's sake). Lennie is the way that he is because of his mental disability. But really, he's the way that he is because he is human. The desire for companionship, the innocent optimism, the potential for destruction, those things are human. They are just all bigger in him than usual. This is such a powerful little book, with dialogue that truly sings. A masterpiece. And an absolute treat to re-read!

Shayantani Das

“Trouble with mice is you always kill 'em. ” Breathtaking prose, touching characters and a heart breaking ending. Who said only lengthy novel can make an impact?

Embraced_evils

** spoiler alert ** Usually when my father and I actually have conversations, it tends to revolve around some sort of argument. At times, even if I agree with him, I’d pick up the opposite side of the given argument just for arguments sake. When we agree we fall silent, and our relationship is based for the most part on silence the chance to argue is usually too good to pass up. When I was younger I’d end up in tears, frustrated that he couldn’t look beyond his own view points…in retrospect I suppose I could have said the same for myself. I didn’t let up enough to ever consider his side. We both just sort of took this cocky and aggressive tone, he was just better at playing it out…he still is, I suppose it has to do with the difference in age. No matter how thoughtful an argument might have been, or a question, or a thought, anything I posed to question him that he in turn could give no answer to, he’d settle simply by saying I didn’t have the experience or age to understand. I haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to catch up, and that somehow I’ll never stop being a child in his eyes…hell I can’t stop being a child in my own eyes. It’s different with him though, someday I’d like to be right by his standards.Any way, while I was reading Of Mice and Men I couldn’t stop thinking of an argument my father and I had when I was very young. We were talking about the bible and my decision whether or not to read it. He didn’t try to lead me in any direction but he wanted me to understand one thing. Reading the bible he said was like a “double edged sword”. His theory (not his exclusively, obviously) was that if one read the bible and understood it then the standards for getting into heaven were harder. I think the equation went something like this:1. ignorance = innocence2. innocence always gets into heaven, because you can forgive innocence. I asked if that meant people who’ve never read the bible got into heaven. My father answered that they did, because it wasn’t their fault they had never been ‘shown’ the way. But that only meant there was more pressure for the people who had ‘seen’ the way because then they made a conscience choice to walk down that path, or take another way. The weight of this whole idea was ignored for a long time on my part; I remember scoffing at my father. It seemed ridiculous, the possibility of bad people getting into heaven just because they never knew better. This was back when I was a far more judgmental person. Though I can’t really deny that in my heart, the idea of God being so forgiving was a relief. I liked the view my father held, but I didn’t want to agree with it.Reading Of Mice and Men sort of brought that argument back to my mind. My father’s theory has evolved into a belief all on its own changed completely but with the same genuine heart. People aren’t bad; people are products of events, of situations. I wouldn’t say people are a 100% of their past, because in the living instant an individual has the ability to choose and has true undeniable free will over memories and expectations of the future. But if a person lives a very hard life, the possibilities of that individual repeating past mistakes is higher. Regardless…that was sort of off the subject.I think Lennie is the incarnation of everything wonderful and painful that makes up innocence. And not the sweet sort of innocence that people seem to wish to portray as a good quality. It’s the sort of innocence that’s rooted in ignorance. Lennie’s innocence is rooted in a mental disorder however, but it doesn’t really change the perspective for me. Mentally he’s a child, and children are innocent. When Lennie died I thought about that a lot. Though this book didn’t in any way deal with the question of religion or god, or anything close to it, I couldn’t help but know that Lennie would go to heaven. Really it was an odd thing to think about after reading such a powerful and emotional piece. My favorite character however would have to be Curley’s Wife. All the characters in this story had such an important roll, meaningful and diving deep into their psyche. All but Curley’s Wife, whose soul purpose in this story was to die, and prove that lust in the end undoes itself. Curley’s wife, who in my opinion represented nothing but lustfulness in a pool of odd but incredibly deep characters, is the most honest reflection of reality found in this book. “Curley’s wife lay with a half-covering of yellow hay. And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was very pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young.” (93)It’s those little pearls of awareness thrown in her direction that made me love her. “the ache for attention”, who doesn’t know that feeling? And the idea that the only way to get rid of that ache, or the discontent and the meanness (sometimes done purposely sometimes done in ignorance) can only be beat with death. And having this representation of lust (passion for life) being killed by the representation of innocence (who generally is not at all that different from lust, or passion, the difference being only in the ‘plannings’) is painful. Where a passion for life called for planning and deliberation, for learning how to use the body and the mind…for a pure and simple ache to be known and seen was ended so quickly by innocence who just took what it wanted. And on a completely different note that’s borderline ranting…I really enjoyed the story, and I am glad I decided to read the book again since I didn’t have much of a recollection from high school, but Jesus Christ what is up with the huge bunny at the end? I understand that it was a manifestation of Lennies mind, but GOD…a giant bunny? It seemed so cartoonish here at the climax of this emotional story.

Lou

Oustanding short heart warming storySome facts about the book, author and the movies..Of Mice and Men was adapted for the screen three times, the first in 1939, two years after the publication of the novel. This adaptation of Of Mice and Men stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, Burgess Meredith as George, and was directed by Lewis Milestone.It was nominated for four Oscars.[16]In 1981 it was made into a TV movie, starring Randy Quaid as Lennie, and Robert Blake as George, and was directed by Reza Badiyi.Another theatrical film version was made in 1992, directed by Gary Sinise, who was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Sinise also played George in the film, and the role of Lennie was played by John Malkovich. For this adaptation, both men reprised their roles from the 1980 Steppenwolf Theatre Company production.John Steinbeck loved the movie and said that Henry Fonda as Tom Joad made him "believe my own words".Prior to filming, producer Darryl F. Zanuck sent undercover investigators out to the migrant camps to see if John Steinbeck had been exaggerating about the squalor and unfair treatment meted out there. He was horrified to discover that, if anything, Steinbeck had actually downplayed what went on in the camps.The novel's original ending was far too controversial to be even considered for a film in 1940. It involved Rose-of-Sharon Rivers (Dorris Bowdon) giving birth to a stillborn baby and then offering her milk-filled breasts to a starving man, dying in a barn.Darryl F. Zanuck paid $100,000 for the rights to John Steinbeck's novel - a staggering amount of money at the time. Steinbeck only allowed the rights to be sold under the proviso that the filmmakers should show the material due reverence and treat the project responsibly.Some images.. The Author Steinbeck

Kristen

I have hated Steinbeck since the tender age of 15 when I was forced to choke down Grapes of Wrath. I was then forced to sit through the movie version of Grapes of Wrath, and was re-assigned to book to read by a crazy teacher I had at the age of 17. I liked it no better on the second go round, however at least by then I was able to pick out the "Christ Figure" that my teachers had always babbled about.Because of this terrible set of experiences I had sworn off of Steinbeck for the rest of my life. If you see a copy of Grapes of Wrath on fire, you know that I'm probably near by. So when I started reading the list "1001 books to read before you die" I was glad that I could already check off Grapes of Wrath and not touch it again - but to my dismay, there were other books by Steinbeck on the list. I admit I panicked... there was no WAY I was going to torture myself like that again. Every word of that last attempt had been a struggle.Then I noticed that one of the books was "Of Mice and Men." I had seen the play several times and the movie, and to be honest - they weren't that bad. So during a carride to ATL under questionable circumstances, I read this 107 page book from beginning to end. Now I'm sure there was a Christ figure in there somewhere, and I know that there was a lot of "deep meaning" and "symbolism enough to choke a badger" but I happily ignored all of it. I am excited to say that I read through the book - found it didn't change me, my thought process, or my lifestyle, and was able to move on. Short Summary - George and his retarded pal Lenny are day workers who travel from farm to farm trying to earn a living. Lenny is huge, with the mind of a child, and George is small and quick witted. George keeps Lenny entertained with stories about how one day they will of their own land and work it themselves. George has told the story enough that even he's starting to believe it. Things go bad at their current job when a trampy woman hits on Lenny. That's about it.Lots of themes, racism, tragedy, the way men treat one another, the lifestyle of the migrant worker in the 30's, the treatment of the mentally handicapped, etc. In the end, Steinbeck does a better job of not bashing the reader over the skull with his themes, and he managed to contain his desire to describe every grain of sand. I figure most people can make it through 107 pages of Steinbeck.

Claire S

A fascinating thing about this which I hadn't been aware of from my previous exposure to it is that is was one of Steinbecks's format/genre experiments. In this work, Steinbeck created a new genre: the play/novelette. '"The work I am doing now," he wrote to his agents in April 1936, "is neither a novel nor a play but it is a kind of playable novel. Written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands. It wouldn't be like other plays since it does not follow the formal acts but uses the chapters for curtains. Descriptions can be used for stage directions... Plays are hard to read so this will make both a novel and play as it stands."Anticipating postmodernists, Steinbeck was to declare wtih greater and greater frequency in the late 1930s and '40s that the novel was dead, whereas theater was "waking up," was fresh and challenging.'And in fact, he sent it to his publishers in late summer of 1936; it was published on February 25, 1937 (for $2 per copy); was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection in March; was performed as written by Theater Union of San Francisco with an opening on May 21, 1937; then performed as a modified version at Music Box Theater in New York opening November 23, 1937; and released as a film in 1939. It was very controversial, banned in Australia in 1940; one of the most frequently banned books by school board over the years.'"The first few pages so nauseated me," wrote the reviewer for 'The Catholic World,' "That I couldn't bear to keep it in my room over night."' "Morbid and degenerate" content was why another showing of it was condemned.And the reason for all the hoo-ha? The truth of it. The hopelessness and loneliness of the group of people Steinbeck gives life to - the landless white male agricultural workers of the 1930's. Also, he used actual dialect which was still new back then. Included in the dialect is racist language in use back then, as his characters would not have been honest without it. Probably some bannings were due simply to the use of the 'n' word, although most programs that use it now include context for that which is a response to it that contains the intended respect while also containing discussion that can be so useful to unlearning racism. Another interesting content item about race is a momentary scene in which a white woman brings to the attention of a black man her ability to get him lynched. It's brutal, and then it's over and the action continues and it fades into unimportance - all of which serves as a reminder of our shared history festering with racism; and how far we as a country have come. (i'm adding that scene to quotes for this book).It's a very quick read for all that, and very enjoyable actually just for the intensity of description. This felt to me like one of those quick-action films, only the super-short scenes are ones you create in your own mind, as written by Steinbeck. Somehow he packs in vivid visual content and well-drawn characters in an almost poetically pithy writing style. Highly recommend.

Martha

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry . . .Well, I can't believe I missed reading "Of Mice and Men" in high school. My kids even said they read this as freshmen. This past weekend I was looking for a quick read to help my goal status of the 2012 Reading Challenge, and looked up "Of Mice and Men". I achieved an additional book toward my challenge, but the reward of the read was so much more. This small book gave quite a punch.Right from the start, Steinbeck's landscape descriptions of California's Central Valley, close to Soledad are so vivid you can't help but feel the leaves crunching beneath your feet. The deep green pool of the winding Salinas River, the dry crisp leaves from the sycamore tree thick on the ground and the lizard "skittering" through them, the water snake with its head up like a periscope, the rabbits sitting on the sandy bank in the evening, the heron "pounding the air with its wings", and the ashes pile in front of the great sycamore from others traveling through this spot will forever be embedded in my mind.This story takes place in only three days. It is during the depression, 1930, on a California ranch. Steinbeck slowly and methodically builds up the characters of George and Lennie, two migrant farm workers looking to start a new job at a ranch near Soledad. George is a small, compact, quick-moving fellow with well-defined features and savvy. He dreams of buying his own piece of land someday, to be his own boss. Lennie on the other hand, is a very large, slow-moving man, who is also very slow mentally. He dreams alongside George about the property they hope to attain someday. After Lennie's Aunt Clara died, George knew he would have to take care of Lennie. The friendship and "kinship" of George and Lennie are the most touching part of this book. Conversations between George and Lennie are repetitive all the way through, but you come to understand the significance of this as the story progresses.This novella is full of themes such as: friendship, hopes and dreams, aloneness, innocence, violence, and prejudice. For such a small piece of work, Steinbeck outright covered each subject thoroughly and completely.I never was exposed to the storyline of this book before, so I went in "fresh". As the New York Times stated on the back of my copy, "A thriller, a gripping tale . . . that you will not set down until it is finished". This was my experience exactly! What a dramatic thriller it is, and I am so glad to have experienced it. Definitely a FIVE STAR!!

Kemper

I needed a quick read because I stupidly forgot that the library would be closed yesterday for Veteran's Day. I'd exhausted my current supply, and I needed a short term fix to hold me until I could get some new product today. So I grabbed Of Mice and Men off the bookshelf last night.And I'm glad I did because I'd somehow remembered that this was a depressing book. How wrong I was! Oh, sure there were some tense moments like when you think Lennie will accidently hurt Curley's wife in the barn. What a relief when George and Candy come in at the last minute and stop anything bad from happening! And isn't it nice that the scare changes both Curley and his wife so that they have a much better marriage and new appreciation for each other.Plus, it leads to the great moment when Curley is so grateful that he fronts George, Lennie and Candy the money to finally buy the ranch of their dreams. Oh, and that last scene with George and Candy on the porch of their new home while Lennie tends the rabbits brought a tear to my eye.What's that you say? I got the ending wrong? No, I'm quite certain this is what happened. No! Be quiet! I can't hear you! LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA

♥ Innocent Lamb ~ Forever Reading ♥ - AKA Smarties

I'm one of those people who reads classics even when its not necessary reading at school... I actually really loved this book. It's sad, but this is me after reading it:

Larry Bassett

There are a lot of movies available online for free. There are two movie versions of Of Mice and Men online: one released in 1939 and another in 1992. I have just recently fallen into watching movie adaptations of books I am reading or listening to. I like it. So here I have an audio book and a pair of movies. The 1939 movie (with Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr.) was intriguing to me since the book was first published in 1937. The book is having its 75th anniversary this year. The movie made most contemporaneously with the publication of the book easily captures the time period since it was actually made during that period. It effortlessly displays the 1930s of the book. If you are a fan of vintage films and classic books, you will enjoy the combination.Gary Sinise is the excellent narrator of the audio book. Gary Sinise directed the 1992 movie version of Of Mice and Men and played the role of George. This is another book that has online SparkNotes at http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/micemen/ if you find these helps useful.George and Lennie have a plan, a dream, and it keeps them going in an otherwise routine life. Their dream is so appealing that others want to join them in that dream. It gives the men something to live for. Lennie loves to have George tell the story of the place they will have with a house and alfalfa and rabbits and “live off the fat of the land.” Men grasping for a better future. Of Mice and Men is a simple story of rootless men moving from farm job to farm job near Salinas, California. Steinbeck excels with his descriptions of people and places: the countryside, the bunkhouse, the odd collection of men and Curley’s wife. Crooks, the lone black man on the ranch, talks with Lennie about how men need each other and they always have dreams that are never realized. Lots of lonely people in this story.Hearing the story of the gentle giant and his life with George brought a shiver of recollection. His world came crashing in on him as he watched his dream seem to be coming true just as it does with every reading of this book that is woven into the American psyche. Lennie and George have each other but that evidently is not enough. “Tell how it’s gonna be,” said Lennie to George. And I am not sure if the lump in my throat is from the conclusion of the story or from the nostalgia of my past.Five stars for the audio version done so well.

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