Of Mice and Men

ISBN: 0553240749
ISBN 13: 9780553240740
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

Danger

The title of this book is a bit of a misnomer. There are barely any mice in this novel. I was expecting some sort of The Mouse and the Motorcycle shenanigans, and instead I got a touching and heartbreaking tale of friendship in 1930's rural California. I'm like, fuck this shit. I think the mice should have fought the men. Like, the men are bigger, but there are a lot more mice. I'm left wondering who would win in a fight, Lenny - or - 4000 dormice? These are the types of questions classic literature should address. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to tend my alfalfa. Who's shadow is that behind me? Oh, George, it's just you. Hey, what do you have that gun for? George...?

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.

Kirstine

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.”Are you a mouse or man?At first glance that saying is very straight forward. Of course you want to be a man, because that means you can take action, you can face consequences, you can stand up for yourself, for others, for what is right. You are not weak-willed or weak-minded; you are strong.But men are also assholes. I’m now talking about mankind, not the gender ‘man’ (don’t get your panties in a twist). We’re all fucking useless parasites latched on to this planet for dear life, claiming earth we have no actual right to own, using up every bit of precious resource we’re offered. Some of us are those resources being used, with nothing to show for it. Some of us have to walk that road alone. What is a mouse? A tiny creature that allegedly scares women. It’s a cute mammal, a fluffy herbivore. It doesn't kill, it’s not in its nature, yet it has survived until now and it fights for that survival every day. Now the question is a bit more difficult. What would you rather be? Mouse or man? What does it take to be either?In this particular saying, the most significant difference between mouse and man (other than a conscious mind) is strength. Strength in all its variations and complexities. Why do we value it so much? Is it worth anything if you don’t know what to do with it?Lennie has physical strength, but a weak (innocent) mind, while his companion has a weaker physique, but a stronger mind. They’re each other’s companions so as not to get lonely, but also, I believe, because they complement each other. It’s obvious that Steinbeck valued strength of the mind higher than anything physical, and that an excess of strength (in any way) with no restraint will end badly for anyone. However, a simple mind is not a bad thing either, it doesn’t make you a bad person, it simply means you will have a harder time getting by on your own. George could get by fine without Lennie (as he sometimes states himself, perhaps even better) but Lennie would be lost without George. And the act of taking care of someone and having someone rely on you, someone who needs you, it makes you a kinder human being. Perhaps it makes sense the title’s in plural. It's a tragic, but humbling read, that in a mere 100 pages lays bare many of the trials of humanity. There are so many things I adore about this book, so many things I keep discovering and falling in love with. It breaks your heart, it really does, but it is also very affirming. No matter who you are, or where on the scale of mice and men you fall, never forget to be kind.

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.

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.

Thomas

"Of Mice and Men" is about two ranch hands traveling together in the Dust Bowl age trying to find work. George is the planner, and is always thinking about the future and how to look out for Lennie although he doesn't always show it. Lennie is limited because of his mental retardation, but nonetheless although strong is pretty much harmless. Together these two travel together and well... it's a short story, so not much I can say without spoiling it. =)I liked this book. I'm writing this review BEFORE my class has analyzed the book and what not, so maybe that's why I enjoyed it a little more than others that had to read it for school. The storytelling was nice, quick and simple with vivid imagery to help move the few boring parts along. The best part of this book was definetly the theme hands down, it was a bit depressing at the end but I got a kick out of the message so... it was pretty good for a book I had to read for school.

Mike (the Paladin)

I know...classic, movies, been around for years, greatly respected author, etc., etc., etc. But, nihilism leaves me cold...Enjoy if it's you...but (and I've used this quote before) this book typifies "life is hard and then you die". Who cares how well the story is written that gets you there.The very quality of the writing here made the experience worse for me. It has been brought to my attention of late that Steinbeck was a gifted writer. It's true he was, and the message in the story he relates here carries that much more weight. I suppose the bottom line is, I live in the world where pain happens, a lot. I don't really need it here. So, I leave my rating as it is because my experience here remains a 1 star experience. So, as I said for you who love this book, and I know some...I'm happy for you, I don't and I can't really recommend it.

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?

Douglas

** spoiler alert ** You won't get any complaint from me that this book is skillfully written, in it's vivid descriptions of settings, detailed descriptions of characters, and realistic dialogue. However, I believe this book has a bad message, and the bad message is about how it's ok to put the weak, infirm and dependent to death. It started with the discussion of Candy's aged dog. The book gave the impression that the dog's age made him no good to even himself, the "quality of life" argument that has been advanced to support euthanizing the elderly, weak and infirm. After discussing Candy's dog, the argument proceded to Candy himself, where he longs to be euthanized when he can no longer work. Finally, we come to George's murder of the retarded Lennie, which is completely justified by Slim, the voice of the one sympathetic character in the book. I believe that George was looking for an opportunity to divest himself of Lennie, and that opportunity presented itself when Lennie killed Curley's wife. It was also mentioned that if Lennie was institutionalized, it would be worse than death. I realized there are conflicting opinions about the moral nature of George, but I don't believe he was a good character. As I was writing this review, I recalled Proverbs 31:8-9 "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Of Mice And Men describes a world where the advocates for euthanizing the weak and infirm prevail.

Raeden Zen

A Tragic Novella of Companionship and Destroyed Dreams“Lennie still stared at the doorway where she had been. ‘Gosh, she was purty.’ He smiled admiringly. George looked quickly down at him and then he took him by an ear and shook him. ‘Listen to me, you crazy bastard,’ he said fiercely. ‘Don’t you even take a look … I don’t care what she says and what she does. I seen ‘em poison before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be.’”“Of Mice and Men” begins with two men walking along the Salinas River and ends with two men walking along the Salinas River and in between we are transported to a distant world dominated by the Great Depression, by two migrant workers whose American Dream has been repeatedly shattered by the economic downfall. It is a world where mental illness had not yet been understood and is Shakespearean in mood: From the initial steps along the river and the first words uttered by George to Lenny and the foreshadowing that follows at the farm, we know the story ends badly. We can see Lenny’s big hands and George’s lips flapping, warning while they imagined better times, of living off the land where Lenny can tend his rabbits and George can farm in peace with Candy and Crooks.The bottom line: “Of Mice and Men” isn’t always an easy read. Its language is of an era that is foreign to many Americans, racist at times, harsh or filled with vile slang at others (see above). But with limited pages of a novella, Mr. Steinbeck finely draws the characters that populate this world in such a way that you can’t help but be transported to their lives, to their struggle. You’ll hate Curley and his wife and you’ll sympathize with the rest, especially Lennie Small and George Milton as they descend to an inevitably depressing conclusion.

Fewlas

Steinbeck ha questa immensa capacità di inquadrare con precisione poetica i destini umani che ti lascia ogni volta in uno stato di completa ammirazione.Come in “Vicolo Cannery”, anche in “Uomini e topi” la vicenda viene incastonata in un paesaggio reso ottimamente da pennellate di vividi colori, e viene scandita dal sorgere e dal calare del sole. La parabola discendente di Lennie e George si misura dall’altezza dei riflessi del sole sulle pareti delle stalle e sulle montagne, quasi fosse un ciclo vitale. E, in effetti, lo è. In molti accostano questa novella ai morality plays inglesi di epoca medievale: ogni personaggio dovrebbe incarnare un vizio oppure una virtù, mettendo poi in scena delle vicende che solitamente portavano al trionfo del bene. In un certo senso è vero, visto anche che Steinbeck inizialmente aveva pensato a “Uomini e topi” come ad un dramma da intitolare ”Something that happened”; un dramma che doveva solo mostrare (non giudicare o commentare) e che doveva girare il paese per mettere in scena l’americanissima perdita dell’innocenza, la cruda discesa agli inferi di quella gente povera il cui unico vero possedimento era un sogno nel cassetto. Fu Ricketts, l’amico biologo di Steinbeck che ispirò la figura del Dottore in “Vicolo Cannery”, a suggerire a Steinbeck questo tipo di scrittura di intento cronachistico. Fu Steinbeck con il suo talento a renderla una perla di rara bellezza. La sua voce narrante non irrompe mai direttamente nella vicenda ma, nel riportarci gli avvenimenti, non si limita ad una cruda e distaccata cronaca: ne è un perfetto esempio l’espediente narrativo dell’anticipazione, affidato tante volte in questo romanzo allo stridere delle catene dei cavalli nella stalla, al loro quasi imbizzarrirsi in prossimità degli eventi che andranno a sconvolgere l’azione. Espediente che tanto ricorda lo shakespereano chiamare in causa la natura ed il suo sconvolgimento nei momenti in cui si cambiano i destini umani.La parabola di Steinbeck non finisce bene come facevano i morality plays ma, indubbiamente, è molto più efficace. Perché in quel piccolo pezzetto di mondo egli riesce non solo a raccontare la storia di una manciata di uomini, ma ad inserirci anche la sorte di ogni umano destino.

♥ 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:

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!!

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

Bonnie

Ok, first of all, you're probably wondering how I made it through 12 years of good ol' American public school and 4+ years of college without reading this book. Let me explain...no there is too much, let me sum up. I signed up for AP English my senior year of high school. After a few classes I realized that my current case of senioritis would really not allow for such extensive reading and reporting as the AP curriculum required. So, I did the responsible thing, and promptly transferred out of AP and into regular English (also known as remedial English). Once there I sat back, relaxed and studied the good-looking soccer player 2 rows ahead and passed notes to my friend Jenny. We read a grand total of one (that's right, ONE...as in 1, uno, a single) book the entire year; To Kill a Mockingbird. It took a good semester to read the thing and then another one to watch the movie, of course. So, there you have it. Now I have to make up for lost time in order to feign intelligence within my various social circles. A fabulously simple tale about friendship and brotherhood but also misunderstanding, jealousy and hatred. A classic, of course.

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