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

♥ 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:

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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"]>

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

Taylor K.

Goddamn it, Steinbeck. You incredible, wonderful, magnificent writer, you.With Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck continues to hit me in a way that no other writer has (at least not yet). He has this talent for finding the achilles' heel of humanity and slicing it open in a way that will leave me in a crumpled heap on the floor, begging him to do it over and over again.One of the things that floors me about Steinbeck is how deftly he can do this in a short time. Of Mice and Men packs a wallop in 118 pages that many books three times the length never come close to.The story of Lennie and George, two migrant workers with a dream of saving up money from their farm gigs to purchase land and become homesteaders, gets to the heart of the things that make us human: loneliness, dreams/hope, and the things we do to help or hurt each other, as motivated by those things. Just as every character suffers in their own way, every character dreams in their own way. (For example, it's George that truly aspires to ownership (No Gods No Masters), where Lennie simply wants something to care for (rabbits, particularly).)These dreams and fears create a complex bond between Lennie and George, which surprises the other workers in Of Mice and Men, citing that many men simply don't trust each other enough to travel together. Lennie, while a strong worker, needs George to help get him gigs, as he's mentally slow and scares and intimidates people. Meanwhile, George often muses that he could probably be more successful without Lennie - and yet, his desire to take care of Lennie is part of what motivates him to save money to buy land, whereas the other workers simply throw it all at gambling, hookers, and booze. Power is the third motivating force - just as everyone holds their own desires and their own fears, almost everyone in Of Mice and Men holds some kind of power, be it physical or mental, which they display over one another in turn. This mingling of hopes, fears, and power creates an intricate web bringing the characters on the farm together in touching and heart-breaking ways. No one person is responsible for the events that unfold, because everyone is flawed. No one person is a hero or a villain, because they are all capable of good and of evil.As gifted as Steinbeck is with prose and with character building, he's equally deft at setting mood and tone. You can emotionally sense what's coming as much as you can from any plot tools that tip towards foreshadowing. What guts me in a not-so positive way is that there seems to be so little in the way of hope to draw from Of Mice and Men. It's hard to tell if Steinbeck is presenting a sad reality, a cautionary tale, or both. There's this well-circulated quote from his journal around the time of writing this, however, that feels important in this context (and is apparently used in an introduction to the book in other versions):"In every bit of honest writing in the world … there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. there is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other."This certainly feels to be one of the messages we can draw from Of Mice and Men, as well as so many of Steinbeck's works as a whole. In a handful of scenes, the characters confess their loneliness and their hopes to each other, and realize both how little they know of each other, but also how much they have in common. What's truly tragic here is how those fears repeat themselves, and prevent them from finding answers or solutions.What holds me back from giving this the big five is that once again Steinbeck uses women to represent temptation and little else. I don't get the impression that he hates women, per se, but I do need more from his women characters. I need to see that he can write women as more than meddling temptresses. Maybe finally picking up Grapes of Wrath will do that for me? I hope?I never read Of Mice and Men in school as so many do, and I'm a bit glad for it, because I didn't appreciate most of the works I was introduced to through high-school. While I like to think that I could've appreciated Steinbeck at any age, I was easily turned off from a good number of writers during that time. The thought that I could've been turned off from Steinbeck, who's easily in my writer top three now (maybe even at the very very tippy top, if he writes better women in other works) makes me realize that some of them are probably due second chances. All of us need one, at times.

Ludovica

E' stato breve ma intenso. E sarò breve anch'io. Anche se sicuramente non così intensa. Uomini e topi è un grande quadretto di una piccola società, e questo non perché lo scenario descritto è semplicemente semplice, ma perché è talmente essenziale da diventare determinante. Uno sfondo rurale che fa da paraurti per le grida dell'autore dettate con toni pacati riesce senza ostentazioni ad accentuare il senso di completezza narrativa che si acquisisce alla fine della lettura, e questo non tanto perché si coprono svariati argomenti o lo si fa in modo esauriente ma perché la completezza deriva e si forma nell'animo di chi capisce. E' un'autorivelazione che esplode dalle viscere ed implode nel dramma per portare alla creazione di una sottocategoria di sfero parmenideo che non è più pura e semplice fusione del sé ma è autentica assimilazione del concreto.Di cosa parla il libro. Oltre alle banalità che potete tranquillamente trovare in quarta di copertina come la trama, la data di pubblicazione e notizie sull'autore, senza scomodare troppo il mio cervello appassito di ragazza-sfatta-che-ha-appena-sostenuto-un-esame potrei quindi fondamentalmente dire che i personaggi non sono ordinariamente descritti, ma che sono portatori di quel carico pesante e estremamente ostile che è la propria presenza e che da sé e senz'altro che sé si riversa nelle parole e nelle condizioni delle loro stesse situazioni di vita. Un accorgimento che, inutile dire, ho trovato estremamente efficace per via della sua assenza di fastosi artifici.Ci sarebbero tante altre cose che vorrei dire, ma poi cosa rimarrebbe di tutte queste parole? E allora diciamolo, subito e finalmente, che è un romanzo semplice, d'effetto, interessante, toccante, saggio, con personaggi da amare e un finale da impietosire.Imperdibile.

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...?

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