Of Mice and Men

ISBN: 0142000671
ISBN 13: 9780142000670
By: John Steinbeck

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Classic Classics Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Historical Fiction Literature Read For School School To Read

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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?

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...?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Shannon

i hated this book.steinbeck is crap.children should not be forced to read it.ok, i really just don't like steinbeck's aesthetic. i dislike the killing of innocent animals, the dehumanization of the mentally retarded--and don't try to tell me that lenny isn't marginalized here. the book is depressing and directionless, and not in the ironic waiting-for-godot sort of way. the descriptions are flat, emotionless, and dessicated.however, curly's wife is awesome. she's just so bizarre and pathetic, so out of place. i love her.

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