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

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.

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.

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.

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

Alexia

Blatant symbolism makes the reader able to discern exactly what is going to happen and what means what from the get-go. There is no surprise or character development, just the descent into the inevitable.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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